Burning Bright

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Burning Bright is an experimental play/novella by John Steinbeck

The original text

A play written in novel format. "Rather than providing only the dialogue and brief stage directions as would be expected in a play, Steinbeck fleshes out the scenes with details of both the characters and the environment"[1]. The play's name comes from The Tyger, William Blake's famous poem about the wonder of the creation. The programme of the 1962 South African production at the Alexander Theatre describes the play as a "modern morality play, a parable told through four symbolic characters: husband, wife, friend and intruder", in which Steinbeck, like Blake, "pondered on man's finiteness in a boundless universe and found his answer in the creative richness of love: in man's capacity for good". The play moves through three backgrounds namely a circus, a farm and on board a ship.

The play was first staged by Rodgers and Hammerstein in New Haven and Boston in 1950, directed by Guthrie McClintic. It was later turned into an opera by American composer Frank Lewin.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1962: The Reps staged a production of the play in 1962 with Israeli Albert Ninio directing Gordon Mulholland. The cast consisted of Gordon Mulholland (Joe Saul), Simon Swindell (Friend Ed), Marijke Haakman (Mordeen) and Michael McGovern (Victor). Decor by Roy Cooke. Stage Manager: Norman Kelly-Harde. Asst. Stage Manager: Garth Scott.



Alexander Theatre programme of January 1962, No. 156.

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