Buried underground : The Subway's contribution to American theatre.


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The Subway (written 1923, performed 1929) is Elmer Rice’s lesser-known American expressionist work. The play’s lowered status amongst his dramatic work stems from its problematic production history, coupled with critical comparison to Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal (1928). Rice speaks little on the play, giving the entirety of its production history a mere three paragraphs in his autobiography, Minority Report (1963). Despite this, Rice believed the play to be a greater example of American expressionism than The Adding Machine. Further, the comparisons to Machinal are not coincidental but in fact indicate an influence on Treadwell’s play. In examining The Subway’s text, production history, and critical reception, this thesis strives to present a thorough appraisal of its theatrical relevance, rectify the obscurity surrounding the work, and consider evidence of the play’s direct influence on Treadwell’s text.



Elmer Rice. The Subway. Sophie Treadwell. Machinal. American expressionism. Expressionism. Theatre. Performing arts. Script-readers. Producers. Playwrights. Thesis. 1920s. Broadway. Cherry Lane. Arthur Hopkins. Charles Hopkins. Crosby Gaige. Modernism. Experimentalism. Theatre history. Inspiration. Influence. Adaptation. Railroads. Melodrama.