pullman car hiawatha
5 women, 12 men, and various other actors to represent a town, a field, another town, three hours of the clock, and Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and the Earth
This one-act comedy, set in a Pullman car on a train traveling from New York to Chicago in December, 1930, introduces techniques Wilder would use in future three-act plays: The stage is virtually bare, with only a balcony or bridge and two flights of stairs, and the play is narrated by a Stage Manager. One of the characters speaks words that foreshadow Emily’s words in Our Town. The play includes a character representing Grover’s Corners, Ohio-a forerunner of Our Town‘s Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The cast includes the hours of the day, the weather, the planets, and supernatural beings. Conventional time is suspended, and the only true measures of existence are life and death. Pullman Car takes us on a metaphorical journey by train through the American landscape, a diverse band of travelers encapsulated in a Pullman car hurtle through time, space and a range of emotions.
The play’s first licensed production took place March 19, 1932, at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
A note on publication:
Pullman Car Hiawatha was one of the six one-act plays published in The Long Christmas Dinner and Other Plays in One Act (New York: Coward-McCann, 1931). It was reprinted in The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, published by TCG, edited by Donald Gallup and Tappan Wilder; and in Collected Plays & Writings on Theater edited by J. D. McClatchy, published by The Library of America in 2007.
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