Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?
|Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?|
|Written by||Don Petersen|
|Characters||Bickham, Fullendorf, Conrad|
|Date premiered||February 25, 1969|
|Place premiered||Belasco Theatre, New York City|
|Setting||A rehabilitation center for juvenille narcotics addicts located on an island in a river bordering on a large industrial city. Present time.|
The title of the play is explained by the character Fullendorf, who said, "Does a tiger wear a necktie? It ain't for us to go straight. We're like the tigers. We always chucked on raw meat. We was raised on it, and we like it."
An English teacher tries to make a difference in his students' lives. He encounters barriers in trying to do this—the same barriers created by the system that hinders the addicts' development and keeps them coming back.
One addict, Bickham, is a tough teenager who searched for his father and found him working in a seedy barber shop. Upon meeting his son, the barber shows him a dirty photograph.
Contrasting Bickham is Conrad, an African-American addict. Conrad wants to recover and marry his love, Linda. During the play, his character leaves the rehabilitation group to live with his sister, who is also an addict.
Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? was directed by Michael Schultz in his Broadway debut after years of professional work with the Negro Ensemble Company, and was produced by Huntington Hartford, an heir to the A&P supermarket empire.
The play enjoyed a 2002 revival at the Looking Glass Theatre in New York, where it was directed by Michael LoPorto. It is a regular on the community and school theater circuit and in acting classes.
The play helped launch the career of Al Pacino, who won a Tony Award for Best Dramatic Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Bickham. Jack Kroll in Newsweek said that Pacino had "the choreography of a hood, with a poetic soul."
In addition to Pacino, Hal Holbrook played Mr. Winters, the teacher who cared enough to reach his students. Lauren Jones received a 1969 Tony nomination for playing Linda. Michael Brandon played Prince, and Conrad was portrayed by Roger Robinson.
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