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.

Original cast[edit]

  • 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)

Production credits[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

1959–60 Village Voice Obie Awards[edit]

  • Obie Award for Best New Play
  • Obie Award for Best All-Around Production
  • Obie Award for Best Actor - Warren Finnerty

1959–60 Vernon Rice Awards[edit]

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


  • Grand 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
  • London, 1974, at Hampstead Theatre Club with Bill Wallis, John Ratzenberger, Harry Ditson, Mark Russel, Richard Moore, and Philip Hinton. Directed by Michael Rudman
  • New York, 1981, with 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]