Street Scene of 1929: by Elmer Leopold Rice (1892->1967)

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico / Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.]; 530-898-6824 [FAX]
e-mail: / home page:

2 April 2002 [1]

The production is over; it ran March 6->10, 2002. This web page is now complete. Web references to additional "visuals" can be found at the end of the "Street Scene Visuals" below. To go directly to the "Street Scene Visuals" please click here.

[This page printed from

"The rumblings of elevated trains and resonding whistles of New York City are the backdrop for Street Scene, a tragic comedy written by Pulitzer Prize winner Elmer Rice and directed by Randy Wonzong, Department of Theatre Arts. A slice of life from a poor neighborhood, Street Scene focuses on the very human reactions of a neighborhood in the wake of a tragic incident. The play also catches the varying moods of daily life in this bustling metropolis." March 6-10, 2002. From: Kaleidoscope: CSU, Chico Arts Events 2001-2002 Season, page 21.

FINAL 1963

Poster: Designed by Ninva Bedjan.

PROGRAM NOTES by Randy Wonzong

By the time Elmer Rice began writing Street Scene in 1928, American playwrights had already been experimenting in a new style of drama which was later to be known as Social Realism. It presented a new way of describing the American experience: tough, gritty plays that looked at the lives of ordinary people as they labored to survive in an America where it seemed increasingly difficult for honest and hard working folks to succeed in a system where big money, selfish politicians, and greedy corporations ruled. And though Rice certainly does include social themes in this play, his focus is much more on the experiences of first generation immigrant families who find themselves trapped in a run-down slum neighborhood of New York City. In fact, his day-in-the-life approach to this tenement full of working class people and his focus on their struggles to get on with their lives and along with each other is really the heart of the play. Yes, there is a capitalistic society lurking just off-stage, eager to exploit their labor and deny their dreams; but the personal dramas (and melodramas) of the characters in Street Scene capture our attention and illuminate the play. Rice shows us a lot: love, hope, friendship, valor, hatred, even infidelity. Some of his characters with their racist and anti-Semitic attitudes are probably impossible to like, but from its casual, slow-paced opening to the clash of wills that brings down the final curtain, Rice's play never strays far from the truth about this slice of the American experience.


"The nineteenth century was probably the most revolutionary in all history, not because of its numerous political upheavals, but because of the rise of industrialism. The factory system supplanted agrarianism; the entrepreneurs supplanted the landed gentry; urban centers mushroomed; the artisan was swallowed up by the anonymous proletariat. Mass production of 'cheap and nasty' articles altered habits and living standards; the search for new sources of raw materials and new markets led to the annexation and exploitation of 'backward' regions [stress added]." Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), pages 142-143.

"There was an accompanying revolution in the physical, natural and political sciences. The new order called for new inquiries into man's relation to his natural and social environment. Two explosive theories, Marxism and Darwinism, revolutionized the thinking of mankind, as the machine had revolutionized his mode of life. (Freudianism was to play its part, too, but that came later.)" Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), pages 142-143.

"The findings of evolutionary biology discredited the cosmology and chronology of the Bible. A thinking person could no longer believe that man had been specially created by an anthropomorphic deity, or that his earthly sojourn was a mere preparation for an eternity of celestial bliss. Likewise, examination of human history in the light of economic determinism destroyed any lingering belief in the divine right of a hereditary ruling class. The concept of a static, stratified society gave way to the more dynamic belief that man has the capacity to ameliorate his own lot and to create a society in which want and disease are reduced to a minimum, the causes of war eliminated and all men made free and equal. That was what the idealists envisioned--universal peace, universal education, universal suffrage [stress added]. Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), pages 142-143.

Some "Industrial Giants" of the times were: Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), Meyer Guggenheim (1808-1905), Leland Stanford (1824-1893), Henry Flagler (1830-1913), Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), John P. Morgan (1837-1913), John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), Henry C. Frick (1849-1919), Henry Huntington (1850-1927), Henry F. DuPont (1880-1969), and J. Paul Getty (1892-1976).


"In 1914 a playwright who was to bulk large in the twenties won success with his first play; he was Elmer Rice and his play, On Trial, was a clever melodrama of flashbacks [stress added]." Kenneth Macgowan, 1959, Famous American Plays of the 1920s (NY: Laurel/Dell 1988 paperback edition), Introduction, pp. 7-28, page 11.

"Born 1892 [as Elmer Leopold Reizenstein] in New York City. Was a lawyer and used his experience in his works. His first courtroom drama, On Trial (1914), was notable for its use of flashbacks. Won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929 for Street Scene, and went on to produce 24 plays on Broadway. His success diminished when he began producing more political works. He wrote about the Depression in We the People (1933) and about the Reichstag trial in Judgment Day (1934). Died 1967 [stress & italics added]." From: [Elmer Rice]

"For sheer longevity and unflagging productivity Elmer Rice indeed deserved the designation of dean of American playwrights." Frank Durham, 1970, Elmer Rice (NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.), page 138.

"This study of Elmer Rice attempts the impossible: to serve as a Procrustean bed for a giant; to crowd half a century of drama into a slim volume. Until his death in 1967 Elmer Rice boasted the longest active playwriting career in the American theater, one stretching from 1914 to 1963. He wrote at least fifty plays.... [stress added]." Frank Durham, 1970, Elmer Rice (NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.), page 7.

"The American theater indubitably has been a little healthier and American society a little better because a youngster named Elmer Leopold Reizenstein one day decided to give up the practise of law and make the stage his career." Anthony F. R. Palmieri, 1980, Elmer Rice: A Playwright's Vision of America (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), page 198.

"Elmer Rice (1892-[1967]) began his career in 1914 with On Trial, a courtroom drama noted primarily for its introduction in America of the 'flashback' to show earlier incidents and for its dependence on the revolving stage to move the action from the present into the past. But today Rice is remembered primarily for two works, The Adding Machine [1923] and Street Scene." Oscar G. Brockett and Robert R. Findlay, 1973, A History of European and American Theatre and Drama Since 1870 (NJ: Prentice-Hall), page 517.  

"On August 19, 1914, Elmer Rice burst upon the theatrical world with all the suddenness of a streaking meteor, but with none of its brevity. He was sarcely out of his teens, and his light would shine more or less brightly for theater-lovers for half a century. What started that fire was his box office hit On Trial." Anthony F. R. Palmieri, 1980, Elmer Rice: A Playwright's Vision of America (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), page 1. 


"In 1653, a small settlement known as New Amsterdam, located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, was granted legal status by Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherland, as an incorporated city. Thus began the municipal history of the present city of New York--a city whose population has swelled over the centuries on an unparalled scale, and a city whose inhabitants have come from an unprecedented number of racial and ethnic groups [stress added]." Ira Rosenwaike, 1972, Population History of New York City (Syracuse: Syracuse University), page xv. 

"Certain writers have become associated with particular areas, rural and urban, which always influence their books: Thomas Hardy with Wessex, Arnold Bennet with the English Pottery District, Ben Hecht with Chicago, Mary E.W. Freeman with New England, Arthur Schnitzler with prewar Vienna. Elmer Rice is the interpreter of New York. His Novel Imperial City (1937) is the most complete picture of the metropolis ever attempted, and there have been many attempts. Of the numerous plays about New York, Rice's Street Scene is probably the most convincing [stress added]." Joseph Mersand [editor], 1961, Three Dramas Of American Reaslism, (NY: Washington Square Press 1966 edition), page 113.

Selected from: "New York City," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. "One of the world's leading commercial, financial, and cultural centers, New York City is subdivided into five boroughs that are coextensive with five counties of New York State. In descending order of area, the boroughs are Queens (Queens County), Brooklyn (Kings County), Staten Island (Richmond County), the Bronx (Bronx County), and Manhattan (New York County). ...Among the distinct neighborhoods that make up Manhattan are those known for their ethnic composition, such as Chinatown, where Chinese immigrants began to settle in the 1850s; Little Italy, home to many Italians and Italian-Americans; and Harlem, now predominantly black and Hispanic, famed as the center of the Harlem Renaissance, an African American literary and artistic movement in the 1920s. ... New York Bay area was inhabited for centuries by Native Americans of the Algonquian and Iroquois groups. The first European to visit the area was Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian navigator in the service of France, who landed here in 1524. ... The community continued to grow, but its great period of expansion occurred after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825. The canal, which linked the Hudson River to Lake Erie, opened the great markets of the west, and New York became a major center of commodity exchange, banking, marine insurance, and manufacturing. Immigrants, particularly Irish, German, Jewish, and Italian, began to arrive in large numbers. Between 1820 and 1840, the city's population more than doubled; by 1850 it had doubled again. ... By the late 19th century immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, as well as from China, were flooding into New York City. Growth was further advanced by the great age of bridge construction. ... [stress added].

"Following the creation of the greater city of New York in 1898 all of the elements necessary for population expansion came into place. These included a large land area (three hundred square miles), a massive cheap labor supply which could man new industries and construct new housing, and the rapid-transit facilities to move the labor force from home to place of work and back again, a substantial rate of natural increase, and a seemingly unlimited free flow of immigrants from abroad. The latter was perhaps the critical factor for it was Europe and not America that was the principal supplier of newcomers to the city [stress added]." Ira Rosenwaike, 1972, Population History of New York City (Syracuse: Syracuse University), page 90.

"Within the brief span of less than a generation the ethnic composition of the metropolis altered radically. Before the second quarter of the twentieth century had begun, persons of Jewish and Italian background had become numerically superior to those of Irish and German descent [stress added]." Ira Rosenwaike, 1972, Population History of New York City (Syracuse: Syracuse University), page 110.

"This was the small world of my early childhood. It was unlike the world of today. The tempo, the rhythm were different; so were the many standards and attitudes. ... One gets to be the way one us, I suppose, by the operation of everything that happens from the moment of conception: the combination of parental genes; nurture and parental behavior; education and environment; the influence of elders and contemporaries; fortunate or unfortunate accidents. No one can evaluate these complex and divergent agencies, particularly with respect to himself. Yet everyone can, to some extent, recognize factors that have contributed to his development [stress added]." Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), page 19.

"The period 1870 to 1920 was a dynamic time of change in the United States. It was marked by massive European immigration and major population shifts between regions of the country, including migration from rural to urban centers that led to the dramatic growth of cities. During these fifty years, the nation's urban population increased from a total of less than ten million to more than fifty million people. Blue-collar and white-collar working people alike benefited from an increase in personal income and leisure time. Tourism developed as an American pastime, annual vacations became a national habit, and city dwellers began taking half-holidays on Saturday. Public amusements appealed to growing numbers of people from many walks of life [stress added]." from:

Estimated New York City population of 1930 was 6,930,446.
Ira Rosenwaike, 1972, Population History of New York City (Syracuse: Syracuse University), page 188.
New York State population in 1930 was 12,588,066;
New York State population in 1920 was 10,385,227

USA population of 1930 was 123,202,624
USA population of 1920 was 106,021,537

NOTE: California population in 1930} 5,677,251
NOTE: California population in 1920} 3,426,861
Also see: William A. McGeveran, Jr. [Editor], 2001, The World Almanac and Book of Facts (NJ: World Almanac Books), pages 370-371. 

Street Scene} Written and directed by Elmer Rice, opened January 10, 1929, at the Playhouse, New York City.

"Another of his major works is Street Scene, now a little dated but originally hailed as a pioneer in the Naturalistic technique. With deceptive skill, its surface impression is one of Naturalistic inclusiveness; but in fact it is one of the most ingeniously orchestrated plays in the American theatre. For, with only a few lapses, Rice was in complete control of his medium [stress added]." Frank Durham, 1970, Elmer Rice (NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.), page 139.


"I have taken an active part in combating anti-Semitism in many of its ugly manifestations, but it has been my good fortune never to have been personally affected by it. In my school days everybody was a sheenie, a wop, a nigger, a Chink, a Polack, or a mick. The standard response was 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.' (What really bothered me was being twitted about my red hair [stress added])." Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), pages 164-165.

from: "Rice, Elmer Leopold," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved: "Rice, Elmer Leopold (1892-1967), American dramatist, born in New York City, and educated in law at New York University. Instead of practicing law, he began his career as a playwright with On Trial (1914), the first American play to use the flashback technique, important also in literature and motion pictures. Rice experimented with dramatic form. The Adding Machine, his expressionistic fantasy satirizing the dehumanizing effects of machines, was produced in 1923. Frequently, themes in his works stemmed from his identification with the underprivileged. His Street Scene (1929), a realistic drama that focused on the New York City slums, received the 1929 Pulitzer Prize in drama and in 1947 was made into an opera by the American poet Langston Hughes [1902-1967] and the German-born American composer Kurt Weill [1900-1950]. In the 1930s, Rice was New York regional director of the Federal Theatre Project. Included among Rice's other plays are Counsellor-at-Law (1931), We, the People (1933), A New Life (1943), and Dream Girl (1945). He also wrote novels, essays, and the autobiography Minority Report (1963) [stress and italics added]."

Selected from: "Pulitzer Prizes," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. "Pulitzer Prizes, series of 21 awards for outstanding achievements in drama, letters, music, and journalism. They were established by the will of Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World. They have been awarded annually since 1917 by Columbia University on recommendation of The Pulitzer Prize Board."

"It is perhaps typical of the American tradition that one of our most notable benafactors of education and letters was once an uneducated and unlettered immigrant. Joseph Pulitzer [1847-1911], born in Hungary in 1847, came to these shores at the age of seventeen to fight with the Union Army in the Civil War [1861-1865]. When the war ended, he was forced to work as a labourer in St. Louis. Yet within fifteen years of this inauspicious start, Pulitzer had created a newspaper empire second to none in the nation. ... Before he died in 1911, Pulitzer left a half-million dollars each to the New York Philharmonic Society and the metropolitan Museum of Art, but the major share of his fortune of $2,000,000 went toward the establishment of a graduate school of journalism at Columbia University. It was with part of this money that the Annual Pulitzer awards were created in 1917. The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded every May 10 to the American men and women who have achieved distinction in literature, music, and journalism. ... [including] a distinguished play dealing with American life, representing in marked fashion the educational power of the stage [stress added]." Leo Hamalian and Edmond L. Volpe [Editors], 1961, Pulitzer Prize Reader (NY: Popular Library, 1964 paperback edition), page 8.

FOR CONTEXT, the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for Drama went to Eugene O'Neill [1888-1953] for Strange Interlude and the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for drama went to Marc Connely for The Green Pastures; incidentally, Eugene O'Neill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936.



Herbert C. Hoover [1874-1964], Republican, elected 31st US President; Hirohito [1901-1989] becomes the Emperor of Japan; D[avid]. H[erbert]. Lawrence [1885-1930] publishes Lady Chatterly's Love; Thornton Wilder [1897-1975] publishes The Bridge of San Luis Rey; George Bernard Shaw [1856-1950] publishes The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism; Walter Elias Disney produces the first Mickey Mouse films; American Anthropologist Franz Boas [1858-1942] publishes Anthropology and Modern Life, refuting the Fascist theory of "master" race; Alexander Fleming [1881-1954] discovers penicillin; John Logie Baird [1888-1946] demonstrates color television; the Will Rogers [1879-1935] radio broadcast is heard in all 48 United States; George Gershwin [1898-1937] conducts An American In Paris at Carnegie Hall in New York City; Three-Penny Opera (by Bertolt Brecht [1898-1956] and Kurt Weil [1900-1950] opens in Berlin; Chinese and Japanese soldiers are at war in China; Amelia Earhart [1898-1937] is first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean; the dirigible Graf Zeppelin makes its first flight across the Atlantic Ocean; General Motors stock increases in value $89,000,000 [eighty-nine million] in one day (March 3, 1928): largest increase in US Stock exchange history; the 97th Mayor of New York City, Jimmy Walker [1881-1946], ordered 20 "speakeasies" raided in New York City after 21 people died from alcohol poisoning in a sinlge day [with the passage of the US 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 (outlawing the sale of alcohol) alcohol poisoning deaths skyrocket: 518 by October of 1928); and the Radio Corporation of America stock value declines by $83,000,000 [eighty-three-million] in a single day (December 8, 1928). (All stress added and only certain information selected from: Bernard Grun, 1991, The Timetables of History (NY: Simon & Schuster), pages 494-499; as well as Clifton Daniel, 1987, Chronicle of the 20th Century (Mount Kisco, NY} Chronicle Publications), pages 354-377.)

And Note the following from August 21, 1928:
"Joseph Schenk, President of United Artists, says that 'people will not want talking pictures long.' He says he makes such films only to satisfy the passing interests. Schenk admits that certain sound effects, such as a rapping when an actor knocks on a door, are agreeable. However, his faith in silence is noted...." Clifton Daniel, 1987, Chronicle of the 20th Century (Mount Kisco, NY} Chronicle Publications), page 360.


The English Actress Lily Langtree dies (1854-1929); first "Academy Awards" in Hollywood; Albert Einstein [1879-1955] develops his Unified Field Theory; The St. Valentine's Day "Massacre" occurs in Chicago, Illinois (February 14); US Army planes fly to Naco, Arizona, in anticipation of problems with Mexican rebels in Naco, Mexico (1929); Immigration Act goes into effect in the USA and immigration quotas to be based on the population of 1920; Leon Trotsky [pseudonym for Lev Davidovich Bronstein} 1879-1940] expelled from the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR); Albert B. Fall [1861-1944], US Secretary of the Interior (under 30th US President Calvin Coolidge [1872-1933] covicted of bribery in "Teapot Dome Scandal" and fined $100,000 (amount of bribe) and sentenced to one year in prison; Universal Air Lines shows the first in-flight movie (ten-reeler) on scheduled flight from Minneapolis to Chicago; Transcontinental Air Transport begins first cross-country service in the USA which requires two days and two nights of virtually continuous travel from New York City to Los Angeles; the dirigible Graf Zeppelin completes an around-the-world trip (with 16 passengers and a crew of 37) in 21 days, 7 hours, and 26 minutes; Ernest Hemmingway [1899-1961] publishes A Farewell to Arms; Bertrand Russell [1872-1970] publishes Marriage and Morals; Astronomer Edwin Hubble [1889-1953] measures "red shifts" in nebulae; construction begins on the Empire State Building in New York City; interest rate in the USA at 15% (April); and on October 24, 1929, "Black Thursday" occurs in New York City: the New York Stock Exchange collapses and US securities lose $26,000,000,000 [twenty-six billion] in value and it was written that the "world economic crisis" begins; Variety headline for October 30, 1929 was WALL ST. LAYS AN EGG. (All stress added and only certain information selected from: Bernard Grun, 1991, The Timetables of History (NY: Simon & Schuster), pages 494-499; as well as Clifton Daniel, 1987, Chronicle of the 20th Century (Mount Kisco, NY} Chronicle Publications), pages 354-377.)

Please note, unfortunately, the following from August 31, 1929:

"Arabs revolt as result of dispute with Jews."
Clifton Daniel, 1987, Chronicle of the 20th Century (Mount Kisco, NY} Chronicle Publications), page 374.

Some Other Productions that were running at the same time in New York City (according to the New York Times of January 13, 1929) were: Show Boat (premièred December 27, 1927); Earl Carroll's Vanities (premièred August 6, 1928); Animal Crackers (premièred October 23, 1928); Singing Jailbirds (premièred December 4, 1928); Cyrano de Bergerac (premièred December 25, 1928); Deep Harlem (premièred January 7, 1929); Follow Thru (premièred January 9, 1929); and S.S. Glencairn (premièred January 9, 1929). Also opening on January 10, 1929 was The Yellow Jacket.


"...the play opened right on schedule on January 10, 1929. It was to be Rice's greatest hit. The opening-night audience gave it a tumultuous reception. There were so many curtain calls that the playwright lost count, and finally a chant went up that Rice had not heard since On Trial [1914]: Author! Author!" Anthony F. R. Palmieri, 1980, Elmer Rice: A Playwright's Vision of America (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), page 95.

"Although by 1929 Rice was a veteran playwright, he was much more aprehensive about the opening night of Street Scene than he had been about that of his first New York play, On Trial. ... Bur Rice need not have worried. The press was unanimously favorable, although some reviewers had reservations about certain aspects of the play [stress added]." Anthony F. R. Palmieri, 1980, Elmer Rice: A Playwright's Vision of America (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), pages 102-103.

"I stood through the [January 10, 1929] performance, at the rear of the orchestra. When the curtain rose, the audience reaction was even more marked than it had been at the previews. As the leisurely first act unfolded, interest mounted; at its end there was warm applause. I slipped backstage to give words of encouragement to the actors: hardly necessary, for they did not have to be told that the play was going well. The tumultuous second-act ending was roundly applauded. At the final curtain there were cheers. The curtain went up and down so many times that I lost count. I went backstage to tell the stage managers not to force the calls. It was a futile errand, for I found Brady rhythmically punching the curtain man in the small of the back to accelerate the rise and fall of the curtains. As the demonstration continued, there were cries of 'Author!' I did not want to appear, for I think a play should speak for itself. But, as the cries and the urginings of the actors became more insistent, I went on and said a few words in praise of the cast. The curtain came down, the house lights went up; it was over at last. The press was unanimously favorable. Some reviewers had reservations about this or that aspect of the play or of the production, but the over-all response was affirmative [stress added]." Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), page 254.


From The New York Times of January 20, 1929: "What many playwrights have desired Elmer Rice has achieved with his amazing insight in his new play entitled 'Street Scene.' He has transferred intact a segment representative New York life, preserving not only its appearance but its character, relating it not only to the city but to humanity. ... Although the cast includesd forty-five characters, in addition to innumerable passers-by, Mr. Rice does not sketch them in perfunctorily as local color. Nothing in the play is so remarkable as his skill in catching nearly every significant trait of their common and individual charatcter. ... For the most part Mr. Rice lets his characters speak for themselves in dialogue as casual as the play--pungent, idiomatic, adroit in its urban inflections. If it did not blend so unobtrusively into the mosaic of the play you might suspect Mr. Rice of having transcribed it from shorthand notes of any spontaneous street scene. In addition to being an observer and thinker, Mr. Rice is a man of the theatre. So intelligently has he cast and directed the play that the script seems more like the transcript of an impromptu performance than the initial substance of the play. Although some of the episodes smell of the theatre, 'Street Scene,' as a whole, draws its vitality from the outside. As the background to the pplay, Joe Miezener has designed one of those illuminating settings than can never be dissociated from the performance, since they serve the play accurately in mood as well as fact. At first you are struck by the extraordinary resemblance of every detail in 'Street Scene' to a hundrum quarter of New York. Presently you realize that it is no clever imitation. It is the essence of New York. In sum, it is true [stress added]." J. Atkinson Brooks, 1929, Affairs on the West Side. The New York Times, January 20, 1929, Section 8 [Sunday], page 1.


"King Vidor, director of the picture, was in complete sympathy with the spirit of the play. The picture, almost an exact replica of the play, had enough audience appeal to make it a great financial success. Goldwyn has often told me that he considers it one of his most satisfactory productions [stress added]." Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), page 276.

"Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Street Scene was purchased for the screen by producer Samuel Goldwyn in 1931. The entire story takes place on the street in front of a foreboding old New York brownstone, between one evening and the next afternoon. The individual fates of eight neighboring Manhattan families intertwine during this brief stretch of time. Special emphasis is given the Maurrant family: the philandering mother (Estelle Taylor), the drink-sodden husband (David Landau) and long-suffering daughter Rose (Sylvia Sidney). When the husband catches the wife 'in the act' with bill-collector Russell Hopton, the resulting tragedy is not shown, but reflecting in the wildly varying reactions of neighbors and passersby. Though resisting the temptation to "open up" the play, director King Vidor nonetheless injects his cinematic know-how into the proceedings, by utilizing an entirely different camera setup or angle for each individual 'take.' The cast of Street Scene includes several carry-overs from the Broadway original, including David Landau, Max Montor, Matt McHugh (brother of Frank), John Qualen, George Humbert, Tom H. Manning, and Anna Konstant (Sidebar: Shirley Kaplan, the role played by Ms. Konstant, was portrayed in the London production of Street Scene by Greer Garson). Unavailable for TV for many years due to legal tangles, Street Scene was freed up for the small screen when it lapsed into public domain in the early 1980s [stress added]." -- Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide. from:,4241,VID-V++++47300,00.html

NOTE: "[Movie] Adapted for the screen by ELMER RICE from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, this is a stark, realistic drama of New York City tenement life. The setting is one anonymous city block during a sweltering summer, where the residents--Italian and Jew, Swede and German and irish--serve as representatives of the not-very-idealized American melting pot. There is idle chitchat... idle gossip... jealousy... racism... adultery... and, suddenly but not unexpectedly, a murder. The cast is large and impressive. The direction of King Vidor, whose best films elicit a touching, humanistic quality, is textbook perfect; it's crammed with striking camera angles and richly fluid camera movement. ALFRED NEWMAN'S evocative, Gershwinesque score is considered a classic. Street Scene, which played on Broadway for 601 performances back in 1929 and 1930, is a must see [stress added]." (Anon., 1987, Jewish Heritage Video Collection #1295} Street Scene) [CSUC: D804.3/S774/1987]

"Synopsis: King Vidor described his adaptation of Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play as one of his 'experiments' like OUR DAILY BREAD and THE CROWD, films from which he did not expect huge box-office numbers. Retaining the play's unities of time and place, the film is set in a lower middle class New York neighborhood during the 1920s. It stars Sylvia Sidney as Rose Maurrant, a young woman whose parents' marriage is heading for disaster. All the neighbors are well aware that her mother (Estelle Taylor) is carrying on with bill collector Steve Sankey (Russell Hopton), but her alcoholic husband, Frank (David Landau), is still in the dark. All that changes when he returns to his apartment by surprise and catches the pair en flagrante. The fallout from this tragedy has a devastating effect on all members of the family, particularly Rose. Vidor powerfully evokes the stifling claustrophobia of young people trapped in such a neighborhood, and as he records the varying reactions of the neighbors to the incident, one feels oneself being enclosed in a prison of prying faces. Distributor: Cable Films, Hollywood Home Theatre, Image Entertainment, Inc., Kartes Video Communications, Nostalgia Family Video, VCI Home Video, Valencia Entertainment Corporation, Video Yesteryear. Release Date 10/24/00 1 hrs. 20 mins [stress and italics added]." [,3699,2328874,00.html]


"Rice's first stage effort following the war [World War II] involved the making of a musical version of his greatest hit, Street Scene. Over the years since 1929, various composers had expressed an interest in making an opera of it. Finally, Kurt Weill [1900-1950], whom the playwright admired both as a musician and as a person, suggested doing it, and Rice acquiesced. The playwright picked Langston Hughes [1902-1967] as the lyricist, and he himself wrote the libretto. Though the essential elements of the play remained the same, Rice substituted a Negro janitor for the Swede of the original in order to enable Hughes to do a blues number. When the three-week Philadelphia tryout proved a catastrophe, Weill, Hughes, and Rice kept working on improvements. Finally, with much misgiving, on January 9, 1947, the play was brought to New York. There it became, much to everyone's surprise, an immense success [148-150 performances]... It was to be four more years, 1951, before Rice had another work on Broadway [stress added]." Anthony F. R. Palmieri, 1980, Elmer Rice: A Playwright's Vision of America (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), page 170. 

"Kurt Weill [1900-1950] collaborated with playwright Elmer Rice [1892-1967] and poet Langston Hughes [1902-1967] in this musical setting of Rice's play, calling the work "An American Opera." Already an accomplished recognized operatic composer, Weill infused his American stage works with the emotional impact of European opera, simultaneously using musical language of the United States of the early and middle twentieth century. Street Scene was completed only two years before Weill's death in 1950; he brought his fully mature skills to bear in the composition of the work. Of his use of popular musical styles and jazz, Weill said 'I have never acknowledged a difference between classical music and popular music, there is only good music and bad music.' Street Scene presents a slice of life in a New York apartment house in a neighborhood of low economic status. The residents are mostly blue-collar workers and there are many European immigrants. The house is a microcosm of the American melting pot. The apartment house neighbors commiserate about the heat and gossip about selected people. The various relationships unfold: the Kaplan son loves the Maurrant daughter, Mrs. Maurrant seeks solace from her unhappy life with her abusive husband. The excitement of a high school graduation and the arrival of a newborn bring joy to the apartment house. But jealousy and rage bring tragedy. Rose and Sam are forced to change their views of the future. But despite the enormity of events depicted in this twenty-four hour street scene,' life ultimately continues just as it was before [stress added]." [The Story of Street Scene]

"Street Scene" an opera in two acts by Elmer Rice from 1946, based on his play by the same name. Lyrics were written by Langston Hughes [1902-1967]. The story is set to one day in the life of a New York apartment building where Anna Maurrant lives with her family. She is worried about her teenage daughter Rose, frustrated by her husband and she is also having an affair with the milkman. Her daughter Rose, on the other hand, is frustrated by her parents' unhappiness and aspires to better things. When Frank Maurrant learns of his wife Anna's affair with the milkman, he murders her. Rose together with her boyfriend, Sam Kaplan, then leaves the tenement behind to make a new, independent life for herself [stress added]." [Street Scene]

NOTES: some of the web pages below contain additional information.

"The immigrants are crammed into a lively slum area of New York, the heat is sweltering, and a murder is fueled by jealousy." [Street Scene Gives Views of Domestic Life]

"Synopsis: One day in the life of a New York apartment building. The story focuses on Anna Maurrant and her family. She is frustrated by her husband and worried about her teenage daughter Rose. She is also having an affair with the milkman. Rose is frustrated by her parents' unhappiness and aspires to better things. Frank Maurrant murders Anna when he learns of her affair. Rose then leaves the tenement, and her boyfriend Sam Kaplan, behind to make a new, independent life for herself." [Street Scene (1946): Kurt Weill Opera]

"This performance was about how intolerance and misunderstanding can lead to tragedy, and indeed, came upon such tragedy itself. Both administration and the organizers of the production took these complaints quite seriously, perhaps a bit too seriously. Dialogue was altered, lines were cut, and entire characters were changed, all just before the second evening performance. The cast muddled through, as best they could, and did a fine job despite the changes, but were all the changes really necessary? Are we, as a people, still that sore over things that were said decades ago, in different circumstances, to different people? Some say that racism is still around today, which makes this show that much more important. It is about tolerance and understanding, two things the production did not receive from some members of its audience [stress added]." [Street Scene Information]

"When critics of the mid-twentieth century ranked American playwrights, they often had to pause before promoting Eugene O'Neill [1888-1953] over Elmer Rice as first among his peers. Like O'Neill, Rice had an astoundingly long and productive life in the American theatre. He made and sustained his reputation with a series of hit plays and provocative experimental work which, next to the output of O'Neill, remains the most varied canon of dramatic literature produced by an American playwright. This reference book is a thorough guide to Rice's fascinating career. This book makes Rice's writings accessible to a wide audience and reveals just how extensive his works are. He was a voluminous writer of letters, articles, and diatribes as well as plays, memoirs, and novels. This sourcebook offers a chronology of his achievements, along with plot synopses and critical overviews of each produced or published play. Theatre researchers will find cast lists and an exhaustive bibliography of reviews of productions, while the listing of archival sources should be of help to those wishing to explore his canon in greater depth. The short biography illuminates Rice's involvement at all levels of cultural production, as a playwright, producer, director, teacher, and polemicist for various theatrical and political causes [stress added]." [Elmer Rice--A Research and Production Sourcebook} Advertisement from Greenwood Publishing Group for 1996 book]

"REALISM: Broadly speaking, realism is the attempt to present onstage people and events corresponding to those observable in everyday life. ... The degree of realism varies in drama, ranging from slice-of-life naturalism to heightened realism. ..." Edwin Wilson, 1988, The Theater Experience, 4th edition (McGraw-Hall), pages 448-449.

"NATURALISM: A special form of realism. The theory of naturalism came to prominence in France and other parts of Europe in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The French playwright Émile Zola [1840-1902] advocated a theater that would follow the scientific principles of the age, especially those discovered by Charles Darwin [1809-1882]. Zola was also impressed by the work of August Comte (1778-1857) and a physician named Claude Bernard (1813-1878). According to Zola's theory of naturalism, drama should look for the causes of disease in society the way a doctor looks for disease in a patient. Theater should therefore expose social infection in all its ugliness. Following Darwin, theater should show human beings as products of heredity and environment. The result would be a drama often depicting the ugy underside of life and expressing a pessimistic point of view. Also, drama was not to be carefully plotted or constructed but was to present a 'slide of life': an attempt to look at life as it is. Very few successful plays fulfilled Zola's demands. Some of the works of Strindberg [1849-1912]. Gorki [pseudonym of Alexsei Maksimovich Peshkov} 1868-1936], and others came closest to meeting the requirements of naturalism. In the contemporary period the term naturalism is generally applied to dramas that are superrealistic, that is, those that conform to observable reality in precise detail. Naturalism attempts to achieve the verisimilitude of a documentary film, to convey the impression that everything about the play--the setting, the way the characters dress, speak, and act--is exactly like everyday life [stress added]." Edwin Wilson, 1988, The Theater Experience, 4th edition (McGraw-Hall), pages 447-448.

"Street Scene (1929) naturalistic in tone and treatment. The setting shows the sidewalk, steps, and façade of a tenement building, while sound effects evoke the life of the streets themselves. The families who life in the building are introduced and gradually the problems of one become the focus of interest: the wife's unhappiness and infidelity; the husband's jealousy, which leads him to murder his wife and her lover; and, especially, the effects on the daughter. Throughout, the play creates a sense of real persons caught up in the swirl of city life. Although the characters are not basically different from those of The Adding Machine, here they are treated sympathetically and invested with a dignity which suggets that were their environment changed they might have lived a full and happy life. Street Scene is not only one of Rice's most striking works but also one of the most successful attempts in American drama to use naturalistic technique [stress added]." Oscar G. Brockett and Robert R. Findlay, 1973, A History of European and American Theatre and Drama Since 1870 (NJ: Prentice-Hall), page 518.

"Naturalism implies not only a technique but a philosophy. Since the origin of Naturalism is scientific, the Naturalist writer sees man as an animal in a world of objects. Man's personality and his motivations come from his responses, not only to "internal stresses and drives' but also to 'environmental forces.' Man has neither the full knowledge nor full control of these internal and external forces. Largely, he [and she!!] is the product and the victim of his [or her!] environment. He is the marionette, and the environment pulls the strings. Since the human being is thus not to blame for his [or her!!!!!] actions, the Naturalist writer tries to be objective, neither approving nor condemning, not overly passing judgement, but letting the evidence speak for itself [stress added]." Frank Durham, 1970, Elmer Rice (NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.), pages 60-61.

"Attitudes change slowly, but by the mid-nineteenth century enough persons were questioning the past to provide a sympathetic audience for radically new ideas. Perhaps the most fundamental new demand was that the scientific method be applied to social problems. This call was set forth most persuasively by August Comte (1798-1857) in his Positive Philosophy (5 vols., 1830-42) and Positive Polity (4 vols., 1851-54). Comte classified all knowledge according to decreasingly simplicity and generality--mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and sociology--each resting on the results of those that preceeded it. The list also indicates the order in which each became a true science in the sense of exact knowledge. Since the phenomena of social life are so complex, it seemed only natural to Comte that sociology should be the last of the sciences to develop. Furthermore, as the apex of the sciences, sociology is the study for which all the others exist, since in Comte's scheme knowledge is valued only insofar as it contributes to 'the science of society' [stress added]." Oscar G. Brockett and Robert R. Findlay, 1973, A History of European and American Theatre and Drama Since 1870 (NJ: Prentice-Hall), page 4.

PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING: In 1839, in Volume IV of his Cours de Philosophie Positive (or System of Positive Polity), Comte coined the term sociologie to serve as an equivalent to the term "social physics" (which came from both Comte and St. Simon (1760-1825). In 1852 Comte also wrote the following:

"Elle n'était point apprécable avant que ma fondation de la sociologie eut terminéla préparation encyclopédique qu'exigeait l'avénement systématique de la véritable anthropologie, àlaquelle il faut conserver son nom sacréde morals. Cette condition finale étant désormais remplie, et m'ayant déjàconduit àconstruire subjectivement la saine théorie cérébrale, le septieme et dernier degréde la grand hiérarchie abstraite devient aussi caractérise que tous les autres" (1852, Systeme de Politique Positive, Vol. II, page 437).

An 1875 translation was:

"The consequences could not be seen, until, by founding Sociology, I was able to add the last group to the Encyclopedic series of the sciences, When this was affected, it was possible to have a systematic basis for an Anthropology, or true science of Man, though this science ought ever to retain its sacred name of morals. Now that this last condition has been fulfilled, and now that it has already enabled me to construct on subjective methods a sound Cerebral Theory, the seventh and last gradation in the Grand Hierarchy of Abstract Science is a distinctively defined as any of the others [all stress added]" (1874 translation of System of Positive Polity, Vol. II, pages 356-347).

See: [Four-Field Commentary].

"Comte's ideas were reenforced and new ones added by Charles Darwin (1809-82) in his The Origin of Species (1859), often said to be the most important work of the nineteenth century. Darwin set out to explain how the varous species came into existence and how and why they changed. His explanation had two essential parts. First, he argued that all life forms have evolved from a common ancestry. This idea was not original, having often been suggested since the time of the Greeks, but Darwin, unlike his predecessors, supplied an immense amount of evidence to support his contention. Second, he argues that evolution is to be explained by a process of natural selection (the ability of a particular species to adapt to environmental circumstances, leading to the 'survival of the fittest'). Reduced to its essentials, Darwin's theory explains all biological phenomena in terms of heredity (factors transmitted to an individual at birth) and environment (those forces to which the individual is subjected after birth) [stress added]." Oscar G. Brockett and Robert R. Findlay, 1973, A History of European and American Theatre and Drama Since 1870 (NJ: Prentice-Hall), page 4.

FROM: USA Today, January 4, 1999: "The idea was simple. Sit around and pick the 1,000 most important people of the millenium. ... [#1] Johannes Gutenberg (1394?-1468) Inventor of printing.... [#5] William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 'Mirror of the millennium's soul'.... [#6] Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Laws of motion helped propel the Age of Reason.... [#7] Charles Darwin (1809-1882) Theory of Evolution [stress added]." From the book by Barbara and Brent Bowers & Agnes Hooper Gottlieb and Henry Gottlieb, 1998, 1,000 People: Ranking The Men And Women Who Shaped The Millennium.

"The birth of anthropology, its origin, its foundation, is in evolution. Anthropology, it can justly be said, is a child of evolution. It was evolution, in three senses of the term, that inspired the birth of anthropology in the nineteenth century: the technological revolution in Europe; the Enlightenment; and the idea of Progress [stress added]." Philip Carl Salzman, 2001, Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theory (Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc.), page 87.

"In the late nineteenth century the popular understanding of evolution became permeated by social Darwinism, a philosopher most closely identified with Herbert Spencer [1820-1903], who was energetically adapting Darwin's theories to fit his own political views. Spencer thought females never had been inherently equal to males and could never be; subordination of women was not only natural but, in his view, desirable. [FN #31 for the author reads, in part: "For a review of the relevant literature, see especially Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955). Social Darwinism continues to be an important force in popular thinking...."]. Social Darwinism has, almost indelibly, tainted most people's understanding of evolutionary theory--certainly as it applies to human beings. Yet social Darwinism differs from Darwinism-without-adjectives in one all important way, and ignoring this distinction has been one of the most unfortunate and long-lived mistakes of science journalism. Darwinism proper is devoted to analyzing all the diverse forms of life according to the theory of natural selection. Darwinists describe competition between unequal individuals, but they place no value judgement on either the competition or its outcomes. Natural-selection theory provides a powerful way to understand the subordination of one individual, or a group of individual, by another, but it in no way attempts to condone (or condemn) subordination. By contrast, social Darwinists attempt to justify social inequality. Social Darwinism explicitly assumes that competetion leads to 'improvement' of a species; the mechanism of improvement is the unequal survival of individuals and their offspring. Applying this theory to to the human condition, social Darwinists hold that those individuals who win the competetion, who survive and thrive, must necessarily be the 'best.' Social inequalities between the sexes, or between classes or races, represent the operation of natural selection and therefore should not be tampered with, since such tampering would impede the progress of the species. It is this latter brand of Darwinism that became popularly associated with evolutionary biology. The association is incorrect, but it helps to explain why feminists have steadfastly resisted biological perspectives [stress added]." Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, 1981, 1999, The Woman That Never Evolved: With A New Preface and Bibliographical Updates (Harvard University Press), pages 12-13.

"Darwinism was pressed into service as a guarantee for the most disparate political theories. Militaristic nationalists maintained that wars between nations corresponded with Darwin's 'struggle for existence' and that the victory in this struggle must go to those states or nations which were most fitted to lead mankind onward. Conservative minds saw in the upper classes an élite which had been created by centuries of selection and on these grounds maintained that a hierarchical social structures was biologically conditioned. Socialists, using Darwin as a reference, demanded equality, which would give equal opportunity to all and thus lead to 'natural' selection. More than any of the others, the Liberals exploited Darwinian authority for their own ends. Just as human beings, they said, had evolved through free biological competition, so the best type of man would evolve through free social compensation [stress added]." Herbert Tingsten, 1965 [Viktoria Och Viktorianerna], 1972 English translation, Victorian And The Victorians: The Personalities, Politics, and Scandals of An Era (USA: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence), page 233.

"We have a veritable Hegelian contradiction. Darwinism is sexist. Darwinism is feminist. How can this be? The obvious answer is that, in some sense, Darwinism is simply a clotheshorse on which people will hang any ideology that they find comforting. You are a sexist? Darwinism will accommodate you. You are a feminist? Darwinism will accommodate you, too [stress added]." Michael Ruse, 1998, Is Darwin Sexist? (And If It Is, So What?). A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths About Science (NY: Oxford University Press), edited by Noretta Koertge (pages 119-129), page 121.

"Darwin has grown younger in recent years. He is no longer the authoritative old man with a beard substituting for God. Instead his work and life are again in contention and debate. Sociologists, microbiologists, linguists, sociobiologists, philosophers, feminists, psychologists, biographers, geneticists, novelists, poets, post-colonialists, have their say [stress added]." Gillian Beer, 2000, Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative In Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Second Edition) (Cambridge University Press), page xvii.

And as Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is reputed to have "written" in a book published in 2000: "I am so glad you have taken the time and trouble to write to me. It is one of the saddest aspects of human existence that, as soon as one passes away, it is generally assumed that the deceased has no further interest in what he or she spent a great part of life investigating. From what you tell me of the Darwin industry of scholars in your day, busy seeking out every nuance of my life and thoughts, I have to conclude that there is indeed life after death [stress added]." Gabriel Dover, 2000, Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson), page 3.



"It was out of this situation [namely, risky financial nature of theatrical productions] that the Playwrights' Theatre grew in 1938, when several leading dramatists--Maxwell Anderson [1888-1959], Elmer Rice, Sidney Howard [1891-1939]. Robert E. Sherwood [1896-1955], and S.N. Behrman [1912-1987]--banded together to produce their own plays, as well as those by other writers. In this way, not only could they preserve the integrity of their scripts, but also they could retain the profits that normally went to producers." Oscar G. Brockett and Robert R. Findlay, 1973, A History of European and American Theatre and Drama Since 1870 (NJ: Prentice-Hall), page 510.

"Based on Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Street Scene [the movie] is a lucid exploration of Jewish immigrant life in America early in this century. It examines the themes of assimilation, socialism, antisemitism, and identity." (Anon., 1987, Jewish Heritage Video Collection #1295} Street Scene) [CSUC: D804.3/S774/1987]

"For of the making of potboilers there is no end; and Elmer Rice, dedicated artists that he was, contrived his share, perhaps more than his share." Frank Durham, 1970, Elmer Rice (NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.), page 7.


"Even more essential to a man's conduct of life than his political and religious beliefs is his personal code of behavior. Here again I put the emphasis upon the personal because of my deep distrust of authoritarian moral prescriptions that are presumed to have universal applicability. ... It should be noted that my code contains no absolutes, but merely sugests choices; and that since it is entirely personal, I am not proposing it for universal adoption. Here, then, is my decalogue:


It is better to live than to die;
to love than to hate;
to create than to destroy
to do something than to do nothing;
to be truthful than to lie;
to question than to accept;
to be strong than to be weak;
to hope than to despair;
to venture than to fear;
to be free than to be bound.

However obvious and commonplace these tenets may seem, I can unhesitatingly that if, throughout my life, I had used them as touchstones for my every thought, word and deed, I would be a better man than I am [stress added[." Elmer Rice, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster), pages 467-468.

To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.



"Acting is one of the most exciting, enjoyable, and creative art forms in existence. It can also be one of the most daunting, challenging, and humbling experience anyone can face. Cultural anthropologists tell us that acting, at least in ritual form, is as old as the first humans sitting around the prehistoric campfire playing out for the gathered community the roles of demons, hunted animals, or even rain spirits [stress added]." Susan Pate, Randy Wonzong, Donna Breed, 1996, A Beginning Actor's Companion, 3rd edition (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt), page 1.
# # #



On Trial, 1919
The Adding Machine, 1923
The Passing of Chow-Chow (one act), 1925
Wake Up, Jonathan (with Hatcher Hughes), 1928
Close Harmony (with Dorothy Parker), 1929
Cock Robin (with Philip Barry), 1929
Sreet Scene, 1929 [Pulitzer Prize for Drama]
The Subway, 1929
See Naples and Die, 1930
The Left Bank, 1931
The House in Blind Alley, 1932
We The People, 1933
Three Plays Without Words (one act), 1934
The Home of the free (one act), 1934
Judgement Day, 1934
Two Plays (Between Two Worlds and Not For Children), 1935
Black Sheep, 1938
American Landscape, 1939
Two on an Island, 1940
Flight to the West, 1941
A New Life, 1944
Dream Girl, 1946
Seven Plays By Elmer Rice, 1950
The Grand Tour, 1952
The Winner, 1954
Cue for Passion, 1959


The Living Theatre, 1959.


On Trial (novelization of play), 1915


The Supreme Freedon, 1949
Conformity In The Arts, 1953

CAST (in order of appearance):

Mr. Abraham Kaplan
Charlie Urbanowicz
Mrs. Greta Fiorentino
Nancy Munoz
Mrs. Emma Jones
Lindsey Geib
Mrs. Olga Olsen
Naomi Iversen
Mr. Willie Maurant
Henry Venable-Naas
Mrs. Anna Maurant
JessLeanne Perry
Mr. Daniel Buchanan
Steve Remund
Mr. Frank Maurant
Justin Jeffers
Mr. George Jones
Dusty Kimura
Mr. Steve Sankey
John Tomlinson
Ms. Agnes Cushing
Marie K. Walsh
Mr. Carl Olsen
Andrew Wilson
Ms. Shirley Kaplan
Julie Cosenza
Mr. Filipo Fiorentino
Vincenzo Ressa
Ms. Alice Simpson
Ginger Hanner
Mrs. Laura Hildebrand
Nicole Sershon
Ms. Mary Hildebrand
Emily Venable-Naas
Mr. Samuel Kaplan
Beau Hirshfield
Ms. Rose Maurant
Katie Suverkrop
Mr. Harry Easter
Cody Mackey
Ms. Mae Jones
Ashley DeCarli
Mr. Dick McGann
Tim Rawson
Mr. Vincent Jones
Ryan McGuffey
Donya Walling
Turiya Dawn
Satoko Yanagi
Bryan Harrison
Cameron Drew Fife
Travis Devincenzi
Sam Trekun

Action takes place in the exterior of a "walk-up" apartment house, in a mean quarter of New York, in the summer of 1928. Produced with special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Special thanks to Matt and Stephanie Lances and Stage Coach Antiques for loaning us the baby carriages and other props. Also special thanks to Steve McAleer and Kay Grace at KCHO, Chris Baldwin at the Chico News & Review, and Heather Gamberg at The Buzz.



Randy Wonzong

Assistant Director

Patty Venable

Set Designer

Marty Gilbert

Costume Designers

Alexis Jensen and April Carmo

Makeup Designer

Samantha Mora

Lighting Designer / Master Electrician

A. Paul Davies

Sound Designer

Derek Brener

Properties Designer

Jarrod L. Rothstein

Technical Director

Peter M. Austin

Poster Designer

Ninva Bedjan


Production Manager

Michael Johnson

Faculty Costume Design Supervisor

Gail Holbrook

Faculty Lighting Design Supervisor

A. Paul Davies

HFA / School of the Arts Publicist

J. Paul DiMaggio

Stage Technician

Peter M. Austin

Scenic Artist

David Beasley

Costume Shop Foreman

Sandra Barton

Costume Shop Technician

Hattie Gomez

Properties Supervisors

Jarrod L. Rothstein, Allison H. Ward

University Box Office Manager

Alicia Abels

University Box Office Asst. Manager

Michelle Angela


Stage Manager

Allison H. Ward

Assistant Stage Manager

Heather Cowell

Light Board Operator

Monika Araya

Sound Board Operator

Julie Shafer

Stage Crew

Sesha Zinn, Gina Karpenko

Prop Crew

Nikki DiPadore, Laurel Bagley

Wardrobe Supervisor

Marget Kayes

Wardrobe Crew

Katie Harris, Jeanae Lewis, Joe Manente, Susanna Samaniego, Chizuro Matsumoto

Make-up Crew

Jarrah Myles, Kathleen Otey, John L. Cavellini, Mathew Woodworth

Costume Shop Crew

April Carmo, Julia Dalton, Diane Gans, Gabrielle Guglielmelli, Alexis Jensen, Lindsey Geib, Kazuhiro Umemoto


Kenneth McPherson, Nathan Allen, Kenneth Bourquin, Andrew Wilson, Georgina Kayes, Brian Klacke, Steve Remund, Luke Scherba


Heather Cowell, Ashley DeCarli, Jordan Elias, Steve Remund, Sean Hamilton, Chris Harper, Nathan Hislop, Dusty Kimura, Kerry Larson, Christina Massey, Chizuru Matsumoto, Vincent G. Ressa, Jesus Valencia, Andrew Wilson, Lindsey Geib, John Cavellini, Katherine Nelson, Gabrielle Guglielmelli, John Cury, Luke Scherba, Jarrett Sagouspe, Stephanie Siome, Marc Dyer, Amanda Bahnmaier, Katie Suverkrop, Satoko Yanagi


Andrew Wilson, Christina Massey, Satoko Yanagi, Kerry Larson, Ashley DeCarli, Chizuro Matsumoto, Amanda Bahnmaier, Heather Cowell

Publicity Intern

Mara L. Ritti

Publicity Photography and Ad Design

Samantha Meemken

Program Copy / Design

Allison H. Ward / Brett I. Gilbreath


To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.


From the poster Designed by Ninva Bedjan.

Scenic design by Marty Gilbert for CSU, Chico, March 6->10, 2002.

The Harlen Adams Theatre (from the stage).

Randy Wonzong (Director)
Patty Venable (Assistant Director)
Allison H. Ward (Stage Manager)
Heather Cowell (Assistant Stage Manager)

Virtually the entire Street Scene Cast (March 6->10, 2002) (Photo by Patty Venable).

Mr. Olsen, Mr. Kaplan, Mr. Jones, Mr. Fiorentino, Mrs. Maurant, Mrs. Jones, Mr. Maurrant, and Mrs. Fiorentino (Photo by Paul Kinney).

Mrs. Emma Jones (Lindsey Geib)
Mr. George Jones (Dusty Kimura)

The Family Jones: Mr. Vincent Jones (Ryan McGuffey), Mrs. Emma Jones (Lindsey Geib), Mr. George Jones (Dusty Kimura), and Ms. Mae Jones (Ashley DeCarli).

The Family Olsen: Mr. Carl Olsen (Andrew Wilson) and Mrs. Olga Olsen (Naomi Iverson).
The Family Fiorentino: Mr. Filippo Fiorentino (Vincenzo Ressa) and Mrs. Greta Fiorentino (Nancy Munoz)

The Family Maurrant: Mr. Frank Maurrant (Justin Jeffers), Mr. Henry Maurrant (Henry Venable-Naas), Ms. Rose Maurrant (Katie Suverkrop), and Mrs. Anna Maurrant (JessLeanne Perry).

The Family Kaplan: Mr. Samuel Kaplan (Beau Hirshfield), Ms. Shirley Kaplan (Julie Cosenza), and Mr. Abraham Kaplan (Charlie Urbanowicz)

The Family Hildebrand: Mrs. Laura Hildebrand (Nicole Sershon) and Laura Hildebrand (Emily Venable-Naas).

Ms. Mary Hildebrand (Emily Venable-Naas) and Mr. WIllie Maurrant (Henry Venable-Naas).

Mr. Daniel Buchanan (Steve Remund)
Ms. Alice Simpson (Ginger Hanner)

Mr. Samuel Kaplan (Beau Hirshfield) and Mr. Willie Maurant (Henry Venable-Naas)

Mr. Filippo Fiorentino (Vincenzo Ressa), Mrs. Anna Maurrant (JessLeanne Perry), and Mrs. Emma Jones (Lindsey Geib).


Mr. Willie Maurrant (Henry Venable-Naas) and Mrs. Anna Maurrant (JessLeanne Perry).
"Old Clothes Purchaser" (Donya Walling), Mrs. Laura Hildebrand (Nicole Sershon), and Ms. Agnes Cushing (Marie K. Walsh)
Ms. Mae Jones (Ashley DeCarli), Ensemble individual ( Turiya Dawn), Mrs. Greta Fiorentino (Nancy Munoz), and Ms. Agnes Cushing (Marie K. Walsh)
Ms. Agnes Cushing (Marie K. Walsh) and "Old Clothes Purchaser" (Donya Walling)

Mrs. Anna Maurrant (JessLeanne Perry)
Mrs. Anna Maurrant (JessLeanne Perry) and Mr. Steve Sankey (John Tomlinson)

"Eviction Notice (by Cameron Drew Fife) for Mrs. Hildebrand and Ms. Laura Hildebrand"
Ensemble Member (Satoko Yanagi)

Ms. Mae Jones (Ashley DeCarli) and Mr. Dick McGann (Tim Rawson).
Ms. Shirley Kaplan (Julie Cosenza)

A Street Scene.

Mr. Olsen, Mr. Kaplan, and Mr. Buchanan (Photo by Paul Kinney).

"Officer Handsome Harry" (Bryan Harrison)
"Nursemaids" (Donya Walling and Turiya Dawn)

Ms. Mae Jones, Mr. Abraham Kaplan, Ms. Agnes Cushing, Ms. Shirley Kaplan, Mrs. Greta Fiorentino, Mr. Daniel Buchanan, Mr. Carl Olsen, Policeman, Ms. Rose Maurrant, and Mr. Frank Maurrant (Photo by Paul Kinney).

"Abraham Kaplan" by Alexis Jensen (1-24-02); Design: Alexis Jensen & April Carmo.
"Abraham Kaplan" by Makeup Designer Samantha Mora.


Ms. April Carmo (Costume Designer)
Ms. Jarra Myles and Ms. Samantha Mora (Makeup Designer)



The College Girls: Ms. Ginger Hanner and Ms. Turiya Dawn.
Mr. Steve Sankey (John Tomlinson) and Mrs. Anna Maurrant (JessLeanne Perry).

Mr. Cody Mackey.
Ms. Heather Cowell (Assistant Stage Manager).

DECONSTRUCTION (March 10, 2002):


from: Oscar G. Brockett and Robert R. Findlay, 1973, A History of European and American Theatre and Drama Since 1870 (NJ: Prentice-Hall), page 518. (Photo by Vandamm; courtesy of the Theatre Collection, New York Public Library at Lincoln Center; Astor, Lennox, and Tilden Foundations.)

from: [Street Scene (1946)} Weill Opera] Ensemble scene, with Sam (Brian Sullivan) and Rose (Ann Jeffreys) at center, from Broadway production, 1947.

OTHER VISUAL SITES FOR STREET SCENE (March 6->10, 2002) [Please Note: since I do not have control of all of the web sites referred to in this paper, I have no idea ow long they will remain "out there."): [by Luke Scherba] [by Paul Davies]


Anon., 1987, Jewish Heritage Video Collection #1295} Street Scene) [CSUC: D804.3/S774/1987]. 

J. Atkinson, Brooks, 1929, Affairs on the West Side. The New York Times, January 20, 1929, Section 8 [Sunday], page 1.

Bowers, Barbara, Brent Bowers, Agnes Hooper Gottlieb and Henry Gottlieb, 1998, 1,000 People: Ranking The Men And Women Who Shaped The Millennium (NY: Kodansha International).

Brockett, Oscar, G., 1995, History of the Theatre, 7th edition (Allyn and Bacon).

Brockett, Oscar G. and Robert R. Findlay, 1973, A History of European and American Theatre and Drama Since 1870 (NJ: Prentice-Hall).  

Comte, Auguste, 1852, Systeme de Politique Positive, Vol. II [1874 translation of System of Positive Polity, Vol. II].

Durham, Frank, 1970, Elmer Rice (NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.)

Grose, B. Donald and O. Franklin Kenworthy, 1985, A Mirror to Life: A History Of Western Theatre (Holt, Rinehart and Winston).

Hamalian, Leo and Edmond L. Volpe [Editors], 1961, Pulitzer Prize Reader (NY: Popular Library, 1964 paperback edition).

McGeveran, William A., Jr. [Editor], 2001, The World Almanac and Book of Facts (NJ: World Almanac Books).

New York City, Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.

Palmieri, Anthony F.R., 1980, Elmer Rice: A Playwright's Vision of America (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press).

Pate, Susan, and Randy Wonzong, Donna Breed, 1996, A Beginning Actor's Companion, 3rd edition (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt).

Pulitzer Prizes, Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft CorporatioN.

Rice, Elmer, 1963, Minority Report: An Autobiography (NY: Simon & Schuster).

Rice, Elmer Leopold, Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.

Rosenwaike, Ira, 1972, Population History of New York City (Syracuse: Syracuse University).

Ruse, Michael, 1998, Is Darwin Sexist? (And If It Is, So What?). A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths About Science (NY: Oxford University Press), edited by Noretta Koertge (pages 119-129).

Carl Salzman, Philip, 2001, Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theory (Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc.).

Urbanowicz, Charles F. 1992, [Four-Field Commentary} Published in the Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association, 1992, Volume 33, Number 9, page 3.]


WWW References Cited Above: [Elmer Rice] [Street Scene Information] [Street Scene Gives Views of Domestic Life],3699,2328874,00.html [IIfilm} Street Scene Info] [Street Scene Gives Views of Domestic Life] [Street Scene (1946)} Kurt Weill Opera] [Street Scene] [The Story of Street Scene] [Elmer Rice--A Research and Production Sourcebook} Advertisement from Greenwood Publishing Group for 1996 book] [Street Scene Gives Views of Domestic Life] [Street Scene Information],4241,VID-V++++47300,00.html [American variety Stage]


MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS [The Story of Street Scene] [Langston Hughes (1902-1967): Teacher Resource File] [Langston Hughes] [The World of Kurt Weil] [Today in History]

[] [US Census Bureau]


2001a [A Few Mark Beal Specifics.] For the CSU, Chico Summer 2001 Court Theatre Memories and More (Sixth Annual Benefit Performance, June 10, 2001).

2001b [On Mark A. Beal.] For the CSU, Chico Summer 2001 Court Theatre Memories and More (Sixth Annual Benefit Performance, June 10, 2001).

2001c (Dramaturg information for the CSU, Chico Spring 2001 production of The Miss Firecracker Contest, Directed by Professor Sue Pate, April 3-8.)

2000a Reprised the role of "Reverend Dr. Harper" (Arsenic and Old Lace) for the CSU, Chico Summer 2000 Court Theatre Potpourri (Fifth Annual Benefit Performance, June 11, 2000).

2000b Dramaturg and performed as "Dr. Gaspard Jadin" & "Sewer Man" in the CSU, Chico Spring 2000 production of Jean Giradoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot (March 7-12), directed by Dr. Sue Pate. Please click here for the makeup design of Dr. Jadin and here for how it was eventually portrayed; and please click here for the rendition of "Sewer Man" and here for how it was eventually portrayed.

2000c (Chaillot Words Miscellaneous for the March 7->12 CSU, Chico Production of The Madwoman of Chaillot)

1999a Performed as "Reverend Dr. Harper" in the Fall 1999 Encore! (Chico Community Production) of Arsenic and Old Lace (November 5-14), directed by Gary Hibbs.

1999b Performed as "Ferapont Spiridonych" in the CSU, Chico Spring 1999 production of Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters, directed by Dr. Sue Pate (March 10-14); please see here for Sandra L. Barton's rendition of Ferapont and how portrayed).

1998 Performed as "Russian Intruder" in See How They Run (one of the CSU, Chico 1998 Summer Court Theatre ensemble productions), directed by Dr. Sue Pate (July 7-11).

1996a Performed as a "waiter" in La Boheme in the CSU, Chico Fall 1996 production, directed by Professor Gwen Curatilo (November 12-17).

1996b Performed as "Dr. Amos D. Keller" in Inherit The Wind in the CSU, Chico Spring 1996 production, directed by Dr. Randy Wonzong (March 12-17).


2001 [Charles Darwin: - Part Two: The Voyage (2001). ~Twenty-two Minutes. Darwin from South America, through the Galápagos Islands, and back to England.] Edited by Ms. Vilma Hernandez and Produced by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico. Available via the Internet with REAL PLAYER [

1999 [Charles Darwin: - Part One: The Voyage (1999). ~Twenty-two Minutes. Darwin sailing from England to South America.] Produced and Edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico. Available via the Internet with REAL PLAYER [

1997 [Charles Darwin: Reflections - Part One: The Beginning (1997). ~Seventeen Minutes. Darwin in England]. Produced and Edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico. Available via the Internet with REAL PLAYER [

[1] © All rights reserved. For the Spring 2002 CSU, Chico campus production (March 8->10) of Street Scene, directed by Dr. Randy Wonzong. To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

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[~11,756 words]

To go to the home page of Urbanowicz, please click here;

to the Department of Anthropology;

to the Department of Theatre Arts;

and see: as well as

to California State University, Chico.

[This page printed from]

© [Copyright 2002: All Rights Reserved] Charles F. Urbanowicz

2 April 2002 by cfu

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