Ronald Ribman

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Ronald Ribman
Ronald Ribman
Ronald Ribman
Born (1932-05-28) May 28, 1932 (age 87)
New York City
Occupationpoet, playwright, author
CitizenshipUnited States
Period20th and 21st centuries
Notable worksThe Poison Tree, Cold Storage, The Journey of the Fifth Horse
Notable awardsObie Award, Emmy Nomination, Hull-Warriner Award, Rockefeller Foundation Fellow
SpouseAlice Rosen
ChildrenJames and Elana

Ronald Burt Ribman (born May 28, 1932) is an American author, poet and playwright.[1]


Ribman was born in Sydenham Hospital in New York City to Samuel M. Ribman, a lawyer, and Rosa (Lerner) Ribman. He attended public school in Brooklyn, and graduated P.S. 188 in 1944. Ribman attended Mark Twain Jr. High School, graduating in 1947, and Abraham Lincoln H.S., graduating in 1950. Ribman is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1954, his master's degree in 1958, and his Ph.D. in 1962. In August 1967, he married Alice Rosen, a registered nurse. The Ribmans have two children, James and Elana.

Ribman served in the United States Army from 1954 to 1956. Following his military service, Ribman worked as a coal broker for the J.E. Ribman Coal Co of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from 1956 to 1957. Ribman was an assistant professor of English Literature at Otterbein College from 1962 to 1963, and left academia to focus on his plays in 1964 to the present.


Ribman's poetry first appeared in literary magazines as The Beloit Poetry Journal and The Colorado Quarterly. Ribman's first commercial publication was an article, co-authored with his father, in the April 1964 issue of Harper's Magazine, titled "The Poor Man in the Scales," a study of the problems faced by indigent defendants in the federal courts.[2] Ribman's most famous early play, "The Journey of the Fifth Horse" based on Ivan Turgenev's short story "The Diary of a Superfluous Man," won an Obie Award and starred a young Dustin Hoffman in the role of Zoditch.[3]


• Infinite Absence, April 2016


  • Harry, Noon and Night, The American Place Theatre, 1965. (Subsequently produced off-Broadway at The Pocket Theater)
  • The Journey of the Fifth Horse, The American Place Theatre, 1966.
  • The Ceremony of Innocence, The American Place Theatre, 1967.
  • Passing Through From Exotic Places, Sheridan Square Playhouse, 1969.
  • Fingernails Blue As Flowers, The American Place Theatre, 1971.
  • A Break in the Skin, Yale Repertory Company, 1972. (Subsequently produced at The Actor's Studio, 1972.)
  • The Poison Tree, The Playhouse in the Park, Philadelphia, PA. and Westport Playhouse, CT, 1973. (Subsequently revised and produced on Broadway at the Ambassador Theater, 1976.)
  • Cold Storage, The American Place Theatre, 1977. (Subsequently produced on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater, 1977.)
  • Buck, Playwrights Horizons/ The American Place Theatre, 1983.
  • Sweet Table at the Richelieu, The American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA., 1987.
  • The Cannibal Masque, The American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA., 1987.
  • A Serpent's Egg, The American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA., 1987.
  • The Rug Merchants of Chaos, Pasadena Playhouse, Pasadena, CA., 1991.
  • Dream of the Red Spider, The American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA., 1993.

Screenplays and television[edit]


  • Ronald Ribman Two Plays: The Journey of the Fifth Horse & Harry, Noon and Night, Little Brown, 1967.
  • The Journey of the Fifth Horse, Samuel French, 1967.
  • The Journey of the Fifth Horse, The Off Off Broadway Book, edited by Albert Poland and Bruce Mailman, Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1972.
  • The Ceremony of Innocence, Dramatists Play Service, 1968.
  • Passing Through From Exotic Places (contains three one-act plays: The Son Who Hunted Tigers in Jakarta, Sunstroke, and The Burial Of Esposito), Dramatists Play Service, 1970.
  • The Burial Of Esposito in The Best Short Plays 1971, edited by Stanley Richards, Avon, 1971.
  • Fingernails Blue As Flowers in The American Place Theatre: Plays, edited by Richard Schotter, Dell, 1973.
  • The Final War Of Olly Winter in One Act Plays For Our Times, edited by Dr. Francis Griffith, Popular Library, 1973.
  • The Journey of the Fifth Horse, Davis Poynter, 1974.
  • Cold Storage, Samuel French, 1976.
  • Cold Storage, Nelson Doubleday, 1976.
  • Five Plays By Ronald Ribman (contains Harry, Noon and Night, The Journey of the Fifth Horse, The Ceremony of Innocence, The Poison Tree, and Cold Storage), Avon, 1978.
  • Buck in New Plays USA, edited by M. Elizabeth Osborn, Theater Communications Group, 1984.
  • Sweet Table At The Richelieu in American Theater, Vol. 4, Number 4, July/August 1987.
  • The Rug Merchants of Chaos and other plays (contains Buck, Sweet Table At The Richelieu, and The Rug Merchants of Chaos), Theater Communications Group, 1992.
  • The Cannibal Masque in The Best American Short Plays 1994–1995, edited by Howard Stein and Glenn Young, Applause, 1995.
°  Shirley,Buck by Ronald Ribman in Contemporary American Monologues For Women, edited by Todd London, Theater Communications Group, 1998.

Awards and fellowships[edit]

In 1975, Ribman was honored by the Rockefeller Foundation with a Playwright-In-Residence fellowship for sustained contribution to American Theater.[4]

In 1983, Ribman's play Cold Storage was chosen to be staged by Classic Theater International at the Hague, Netherlands to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the establishment of Dutch-American diplomatic relations. Subsequently a luncheon in his honor was held at the American embassy.

Critical commentary and analysis[edit]

After the American Repertory Theater's world premier of Ribman's "Sweet Table at the Richelieu,"[5] Jonathan Marks identified a central theme in Ribman's work as having "a preoccupation with the persistence of the past in the present—a recognition that we all carry with us a heavy baggage of seeds, each of which began sprouting at a different time in the past, and never stopped shooting out tendrils: a bag of memories which can never be simply dumped."[6]

External links[edit]

Bibliography and further commentary[edit]

  • Gottfried, Martin (1967). A theater divided; the postwar American stage. Boston: Little, Brown. pp. 74–75. LCCN 67028225. OCLC 923840.
  • Gottfried, Martin (1969). Opening Nights: Theater Criticism of the Sixties. New York City: G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 202–204. LCCN 72099284. OCLC 44683.
  • Weales, Gerald Clifford (1969). The jumping-off place; American drama in the 1960s. New York City: Macmillan Publishers. pp. 229–234. LCCN 69010544. OCLC 3831.
  • Brustein, Robert Sanford (1969). "Journey and Arrival of a Playwright". The third theatre. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 43–46. ISBN 0-224-61854-7. LCCN 69016612. OCLC 5623.
  • Dietz, Susan H. (1974). The Work of Ronald Ribman: The Poet As Playwright (Dissertation). University of Pennsylvania.
  • Hoffman, Daniel; Leo Braudy (1979). Harvard guide to contemporary American writing. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. pp. 422–424. ISBN 0-674-37535-1. LCCN 79010930. OCLC 4774781.
  • Berney, KA (1993) [1973]. Contemporary dramatists (5th ed.). London: St. James. ISBN 978-1-55862-185-5. LCCN 90656160. OCLC 28766027.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 7, Gale, 1977.
·Starr, Bernard (August 4, 2016) "Famed Playwright Switches Genres. Interview With Ronald Ribman About His New Novel, Infinite Absence" Huffington Post.

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Much of the information in this article comes from a submission by the subject himself and is archived on the OTRS system as ticket 2008073010036244
  2. ^ Ribman, Ronald; Samuel L. Ribman (April 1964). "The Poor Man in the Scales" (thumbnail preview). Harper's Magazine. New York City: HarperCollins. 228 (1367): 150–158. ISSN 0017-789X. OCLC 4532730. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  3. ^ "Journey of the Fifth Horse". History. The American Place Theatre. 2005. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  4. ^ "Recently Processed RF Grant Files" (PDF). Rockefeller Archive Center Newsletter. Sleepy Hollow, New York: Rockefeller Archive Center: 5. September 2005. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  5. ^ "Season Eight: 1986-87". Production History. American Repertory Theater. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  6. ^ Marks, Jonathan (February 1987). ART News. Cambridge, Massachusetts: American Repertory Theater. VII (2). Missing or empty |title= (help) reprinted in American Theater, July/August 1987. See Arthur Hagadus's comments in the same publications.