The Skin of Our Teeth
A Play (1942)
"For an American dramatist, all roads lead back to Thornton Wilder...THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH was a remarkable gift to an America entrenched in catastrophe, a tribute to the trait of human endurance."
--Paula Vogel, Foreword, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH
Completed by the author less than a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH (1942) broke from established theatrical conventions and walked off with the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Combining farce, burlesque, and satire, and elements of the comic strip, Thornton Wilder depicts an Everyman Family as it narrowly escapes one end-of-the-world disaster after another, from the Ice Age to flood to war.
Meet George and Maggie Antrobus of Excelsior, New Jersey, a suburban, commuter-town couple (married for 5,000 years), who bear more than a casual resemblance to that first husband and wife, Adam and Eve: the two Antrobus children, Gladys (perfect in every way, of course) and Henry (who likes to throw rocks and was formerly known as Cain); and their garrulous maid, Sabina (the eternal seductress), who takes it upon herself to break out of character and interrupt the course of the drama at every opportunity ("I don't understand a word of this play!")
Whether he is inventing the alphabet or merely saving the world from apocalypse, George and his redoubtable family somehow manage to survive--by the skin of their teeth.
The play known as the "Skin" has had made many celebrated productions in this country and abroad, including an English -speaking world tour staring Helen Hayes among others. With Elizabeth Ashley as Sabina--known in the trade as one of the of most demanding roles in American drama--Skin bowed in 1976 at the Kennedy Center's lead drama for the nation's Bi-centennial celebration.