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Jack Gelber Biography

(1932–2003), The Connection, The Apple, Square in the Eye, The Cuban Thing, Sleep, Barbary Shore, Farmyard

American dramatist, born in Chicago, educated at the University of Illinois. Gelber is chiefly famous for his play about drug addiction, The Connection (1959), produced by the Living Theatre in 1959 when it ran for over 700 performances. His other plays are The Apple (1961), Square in the Eye (1965), The Cuban Thing (1968), Sleep (1972), Barbary Shore (adapted from Norman Mailer's novel) (1973), Farmyard (1975), Rehearsal (1976), and Starters (1980). Gelber is clearly influenced by Pirandello, Brecht, and Samuel Beckett, most obviously in the way his plays experiment with the relationship between audience and performers within the context of the illusionist scenario of theatrical space. Thus in The Connection, the title refers not only to the user and pusher of the drug world, but also to the actors and audience in the theatre. The experimental, disruptive, sometimes baffling world of Gelber's plays makes no concession to the orthodoxies of the theatrical event, as in his use of Brechtian alienation techniques, and his persistent questioning of the distinction between fiction and reality.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Richard Furness Biography to Robert Murray Gilchrist Biography