5 Men; 2 Women

To his horror, the middle-aged Captain Gulliver finds himself marooned, dying of hunger and thirst in “The Country of The Young”–a world of youth so mistrustful of age that anyone approaching thirty is ritually dispatched. Here, he encounters an ersatz aristocracy and servant class who are both appalled by and attracted to what they see in him. By virtue of age alone, he represents everything they hate–the old men immortalized in their books who have sent younger men off to war; old men who frustrate and thwart the young in order to keep themselves in power. Yet he appeals to their latent humanity and their need to do something other than just play at childish games. Through his cunning and wisdom, Gulliver manages to gain the trust of one of his female captors and enlist the help of a talented servant-class carpenter. Together they make a narrow escape, the two young islanders looking forward to the promise of a new world in which people may someday see their children grow into manhood and womanhood and hold their grandchildren on their knees.

Conceived in the 1960s, amid a youthful population who had discovered for the first time its social and political clout, Youth might well have been Wilder’s satirical meditation on the excesses of America. More than just a jab at a particular decade and the foibles of utopian idealism of young people everywhere, however, Youth demonstrates Wilder’s ever-generous spirit, his life-long belief in community and the value of the contributions every individual can make.

A Note on Publication:
Youth was first published in 1997 by TCG in The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, edited by Donald Gallup and Tappan Wilder. It is also included in Collected Plays & Writings on Theater edited by J. D. McClatchy, published by The Library of America in 2007.