Native Son (play)
First edition 1941
|Date premiered||March 24, 1941|
St. James Theatre|
New York City, New York
Native Son is a 1941 Broadway drama written by Paul Green and Richard Wright based on Wright's novel Native Son. It was produced by Orson Welles and John Houseman with Bern Bernard as associate producer and directed by Welles with scenic design by John Morcom. It ran for 114 performances from March 24, 1941 to June 28, 1941 at the St. James Theatre.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2017)
Differences in plot
Richard Wright and Paul Green edited Native Son's plot to fit the time constraints of a play more easily. Certain parts are edited or cut completely. In the novel, the daughter of Bigger Thomas's employers, Mary, has a communist boyfriend, Jan, who Bigger tries to blame Mary's murder on. Bigger even tries to collect ransom for Mary's supposedly missing body. He also becomes the Dalton's chauffeur only after a failed robbery attempt of a white man's store. In the drama, these details are erased. It becomes simpler and more objective--Bigger becomes the Dalton's chauffeur because of a social worker. He kills Mary by accident, as in the book, but is shortly found after a manhunt through Chicago.
- Canada Lee as Bigger Thomas
- Frances Bavier as Peggy
- Everett Sloane as Britten
- Philip Bourneuf as Buckley, District Attorney
- Ray Collins as Paul Max, defense attorney
- John Berry as a reporter
- Helen Martin as Vera Thomas
- Evelyn Ellis as Hannah Thomas
- Joseph Pevneya as Jan Erlone
- Erskine Sanford as Mr. Dalton
- C. M. "Bootsie" Davis as Earnie Jones
- Eileen Burns as Miss Emmett
- Anne Burr as Mary Dalton
- Nell Harrison as Mrs. Dalton
- Jacqueline Ghant Andre as a neighbor
- William Malone as Judge
- Rena Mitchell as Clara
- J. Flashe Riley as Jack
- Wardell Saunders as Gus Mitchell
- Rodester Timmons as G. H. Rankin
- Lloyd Warren as Buddy Thomas
- Don Roberts
- Stephen Roberts
- Paul Stewart
- George Zorn
Critics greeted Native Son's 1941 premiere warmly, especially praising Canada Lee's turn as Bigger Thomas. Said Rosamond Gilder in Theatre and Arts, May 1941: " Much of what is important in the novel but is lost in the play -the profound subjective exposure of the Negro's unconscious motivations- is restored by the actor's performance. Bigger's smouldering resentment against the world as he has always known it; his unreflecting violence breaking out even more easily against the things he loves -his mother, his friends, his girl- than against the things he hates; his profound frustration stemming from the denial of his right to live;".  The New York Times said it was "powerful" and "exciting".  Time called it "the strongest play of the season". 
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Wood, Bret (1990). Orson Welles: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26538-0.
- Gilder, Rosamond (May 1941). "Theatre Arts" – via Wellesnet Theater.
- Atkinson, Brooks (1941-03-25). "Stage: 'Native Son'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
- "New Plays in Manhattan". Time Magazine. April 7, 1941 – via Wellesnet.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Native Son (play).|
- Native Son at the Internet Broadway Database
- Native Son — Playbill beginning April 13, 1941
- "Native Son: Best-Selling Novel is Turned into Tense Drama Strikingly Staged by Orson Welles" Life, April 7, 1941, pp. 94–96
- Major Dramatic Works: Native Son, 1940–1980 in the Paul Green Papers, #3693, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Actual Stage Timing, Court Room Scene from the Mercury Theatre Production of Native Son (1941). Orson Welles on the Air, 1938–1946, Indiana University Bloomington. Orson Welles reads the role of Paul Max.
|This article on a play from the 1940s is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|