The Connection (play)

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The Connection is a 1959 play by Jack Gelber. It was first produced by the Living Theatre, directed by Living Theatre co-founder Judith Malina, and designed by co-founder Julian Beck. The play has a play-within-a-play format, with characters Jim Dunn as the "producer" and Jaybird as the "writer". They are attempting to stage a production about the underbelly of society using "real" addicts. Some of the addicts are jazz musicians. They all (except for the "producer", "writer", and two "photographers") have one thing in common: they are waiting around for their drug dealer, their "connection". The dialogue of the characters is interspersed with performances of jazz. The music was composed by jazz pianist Freddie Redd.

Production credits[edit]

Written by Jack Gelber
Directed by Judith Malina
Designed by Julian Beck
Original Cast:
Jim Dunn - Leonard Hicks
Jaybird - Ira Lewis
Leach - Warren Finnerty
Solly - Jerome Raphel
Sam - John McCurry
Ernie - Garry Goodrow
1st Musician - Freddie Redd (composer, piano)
4th Musician - Michael Mattos (bass)
First Photographer - Louis McKenzie
Second Photographer - Jamil Zakkai
2nd Musician - Jackie McLean (alto saxophone)
3rd Musician - Larry Ritchie (drums)
Harry - Henry Proach
Sister Salvation - Barbara Winchester
Cowboy - Carl Lee
Man in audience - Martin Sheen (uncredited)

Awards and honors[edit]

1959-1960 Village Voice Obie Awards[edit]

1959-1960 Vernon Rice Awards[edit]

  • Vernon Rice Award for outstanding achievement in the off-broadway theatre - Jack Gelber


  • Gran Prix for Best Play at the Theatre des Nacions, Paris, 1960

Related Works[edit]

Film adaptation


Other Productions

  • London, 1960
  • Los Angeles, 1961
  • European Tour 1962: Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands
  • New York, 1981 w/Morgan Freeman as Cowboy
  • Chicago, 1992 the inaugural production of A Red Orchid Theatre, featuring Michael Shannon and Guy Van Swearingen
  • New York, 2009 50th Anniversary Production at the Living Theatre, directed by Judith Malina, music director Rene McLean
  • Seattle, 2011 Sight by Sound productions directed by Gavin Reub in The Little Theater


  • Kenneth Tynan, preface, The Connection, Grove Press, 1960
  • Lionel Abel, Partisan Review, Winter, 1960 - "What adds to the play's power is that the characters are so like other people, though in such a different situation from most people."
  • Ira Gitler, Liner notes to BN 4027

External links[edit]