Broken Glass (play)

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Broken Glass
Arthur Miller's Broken Glass.jpg
Written by Arthur Miller
Date premiered 1994
Place premiered Booth Theatre
New York
Original language English
Subject American Jewish assimilation, self-hatred and the European Nazi threat
Genre Historical drama
Setting Brooklyn, 1938

Broken Glass is a 1994 play by Arthur Miller, focusing on a couple in New York City in 1938, the same time of Kristallnacht, in Nazi Germany. The play's title is derived from Kristallnacht, which is also known as the Night of Broken Glass.


  • Sylvia Gellburg
  • Phillip Gellburg, Sylvia's Husband
  • Dr. Harry Hyman, Doctor of Sylvia Gellburg
  • Margaret Hyman, Wife of Dr. Hyman
  • Harriet, Sylvia's sister
  • Stanton Case, Phillip Gellburg's employer


Phillip and Sylvia Gellburg are a Jewish married couple living in New York in the last days of November 1938. Phillip works at a Wall Street bank, where he works on foreclosing. Sylvia suddenly becomes partially paralysed from the waist down after reading about the events of Kristallnacht in the newspaper.

Dr. Harry Hyman is contacted by Phillip to try to help Sylvia recover. Dr. Hyman believes that Sylvia's paralysis is psychosomatic, and though he is not a psychiatrist, he begins to treat her according to his diagnosis. Throughout the play, Dr. Hyman learns more about the problems that Sylvia is having in her personal life, particularly in her marriage.

After an argument with his boss, Philip suffers a heart attack and is dying at his home. Phillip and Sylvia confront each other about their feelings. Before Phillip dies (although his death is never confirmed), his final words are "Sylvia, forgive me!". Upon his 'death', Sylvia is cured of her paralysis.


Broken Glass was first staged, and received its world premiere, at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, before transferring to the Booth Theatre from April 24, 1994 to June 26 of the same year, totaling 73 performances. The original production was produced by Robert Whitehead, Roger L. Stevens, Lars Schmidt, Spring Sirkin, Terri Childs, and Timothy Childs; and directed by John Tillinger. It received its British premiere at the Royal National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre on August 4, 1994.

A revival of Broken Glass starring Antony Sher was staged at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London in August/September 2011, before transferring to the Vaudeville Theatre in the West End.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1994 Tony nomination for Best Play



  • Miller, Arthur (1994). Broken Glass: A Play (First edition ed.). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-048095-1. 

External links[edit]