Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Potts, Norman B.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Theatre Arts


Wilson; Lanford; 1937-


In April of 1980 the Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded to Lanford Wilson for his play Talley's Folly. But even prior to this recognition, Wilson's plays had received a variety of awards and had been produced by groups both on and off-Broadway. Several of the plays were filmed for special television presentation; one, Hot 1 Baltimore, was made into a prime time television series; and many are produced by community and school theatre groups throughout the country. The quality of Lanford Wilson's plays has been frequently compared by critics to a diverse group of other playwrights, both American and foreign. These comparisons raise the question of whether Lanford Wilson is more than an imitator. The purpose of this critical analysis is to discuss whether or not Lanford Wilson has contributed significantly to contemporary American theatre. The analysis will be divided into three areas. The first area is the character categories created by Wilson. Wilson's characters go beyond mere stereotypes because they have independence from stereotyped actions and responses. Although many of them are losers, they are not condemned by the playwright to remain that way. The second area of the study is the contribution made by the skillful development and portrayal of certain recurring themes. Ultimately, these themes all reinforce one dominant theme, the disintegration of the American way of life. Wilson avoids banality by providing a means of avoiding ultimate failure. That means is for each individual to look to the past for meaning. The third area of the analysis is an examination of Wilson's versatility as a writer. He has experimented with dramatic form, creating plays which represent a wide range of dramatic styles. Wilson also is a gifted writer as we'll as dramatist. Many of his plays incorporate the poetic elements of rhythm and imagery which has led to their frequent comparison to music.


Includes bibliograhpical references.


137 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type