Bury the Dead

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Bury the Dead
Written byIrwin Shaw
Date premieredApril 18, 1936 (1936-04-18)
Place premieredEthel Barrymore Theatre, New York City
Original languageEnglish
SubjectWorld War I
GenreExpressionist agit-prop
Setting"The second year of the war that begins tomorrow."

Bury the Dead (1936) is an expressionist and anti-war drama by the American playwright Irwin Shaw. It dramatizes the refusal of six dead soldiers during an unspecified war—who represent a cross-section of American society—to be buried. Each rises from a mass nameless grave to express his anguish, the futility of war, and his refusal to become part of the "glorious past". First the Captain and the Generals tell them it is their duty to be buried, but they refuse. Even a Priest and a Rabbi try to convince them to no avail. Newspapers refuse to print the story in fear it will hurt the war effort. Finally they bring in the women who have survived them, wives, sister and even mother. None succeed in the end. It was first staged in New York City in 1936 to great acclaim.


  • Private Driscoll
  • Private Morgan
  • Private Levy
  • Private Webster
  • Private Schelling
  • Private Dean
  • Joan Burke
  • Bess Schelling
  • Martha Webster
  • Julia Blake
  • Katherine Driscoll
  • Elizabeth Dean
  • Three Generals
  • Captain
  • Sergeant
  • Four Soldiers on Burial Detail
  • Priest
  • Rabbi
  • Doctor
  • Reporter
  • Editor
  • Two Whores
  • Three Business Men'

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