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Arthur Kopit Biography

(1937– )

American dramatist, born in New York, educated at Harvard. He won his reputation with a student play, Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet, and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1961). Written in the idiom of European theatre of the Absurd, Oh Dad is at once imitative and parodic of fashionable avant-garde theatre of the 1960s, and features a woman who keeps her husband's corpse in a wardrobe and dominates her son. Of Kopit's many other plays, the most highly regarded are Indians (1968), concerning white American imperialism, which fuses the narratives of the erasure of the North American Indian tribes from their ancestral home-lands with America's involvement in Vietnam (see Vietnam Writing), and Wings (1978), a poetic drama about a woman recovering from a stroke, whose fractured world is revealed through her interior monologue. A writer of considerable versatility in a variety of theatrical idioms, Kopit's work shows many European influences, especially those of Brecht and Pirandello. In 1982 he wrote the book for a musical, Nine, based on Federico Fellini's film 8½, and adapted from the Italian by Mario Fratti, and in 1984 wrote a new translation of Ibsen's Ghosts. Several of his plays have been made into films, most notably Oh Dad (1967) with Rosalind Russell and Jonathan Winters, and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976), based on Indians, and made by Robert Altman.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Knole Kent to Mary Lavin Biography