Theatre of E. E. Cummings
The complete collection of E. E. Cummings’s writing for the stage, from the most inventive poet of the twentieth century.
The Theatre of E. E. Cummings collects in their entirety Cummings’s long out-of-print theatrical works: the plays HIM (1927), Anthropos (1930), and Santa Claus (1946), and the ballet treatment Tom (1935). In HIM, a creatively blocked artist and his lover, Me, struggle to bridge the impasse in their relationship and in his art. In Anthropos, a Platonic parable, three “infrahumans” brainstorm slogans while a man sketches on a cave wall; and in Santa Claus, Death and Saint Nick exchange identities. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is reimagined as dance, transforming the novel into a symbolic attack against Evil itself. Cummings’s prodigious creativity is on display in each of these works, which are ultimately about the place of the artist outside of society. “DON’T TRY TO UNDERSTAND IT, LET IT TRY TO UNDERSTAND YOU,” Cummings famously wrote about his intentions for the stage. Thoughtful and witty, Cummings’s dramas are an integral part of his canon.
E. E. Cummings (1894–1962) was among the most influential, widely read, and revered modernist poets. He was also a playwright, a painter, and a writer of prose. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he studied at Harvard University and, during World War I, served with an ambulance corps in France. He spent three months in a French detention camp and subsequently wrote The Enormous Room, a highly acclaimed criticism of World War I. After the war, Cummings returned to the States and published his first collection of poetry, Tulips & Chimneys, which was characterized by his innovative style: pushing the boundaries of language and form while discussing love, nature, and war with sensuousness and glee. He spent the rest of his life painting, writing poetry, and enjoying widespread popularity and success.
George J. Firmage edited many works by Cummings, including Erotic Poems; Complete Poems, 1904– 1962; and Fairy Tales.
Norman Friedman is an emeritus professor of English at Queens College.
Pub Date: 2013
Size: 5.75 x 8.75 inches