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A: Jack Gelber Pf: 1959, New York Pb: 1961 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Leach's room in an American city, 1950s C: 14m, 1fJim Dunn wants to make a documentary film based on a script called The Connection, written by his friend Jaybird. To provide authenticity, Jaybird has been living for four months with a group of heroin addicts who will perform in Jim's film. Two photographers and a four-piece jazz combo are also present. Now everyone is waiting around with Leach and his fellow junkies for the return of their supplier Cowboy with a fresh fix. Leach claims that he cannot get high any more and is only doing drugs for the business; Ernie was once a saxophonist who still imagines he can play his instrument; Sam is a likeable, uneducated black youth; and his friend Solly is something of a philosopher. They converse desultorily and the musicians play, while they continue to wait. At last Cowboy arrives, bringing with him Sister Salvation who has helped him dodge the police. She hopes to reform these young men, although she is not quite sure from what. One by one, the junkies go into the toilet (visible on stage) to inject themselves. Jaybird decides he must try to find the connection that binds these disparate people together and gives himself a fix. When Leach takes an overdose, the musicians leave, but Leach recovers from his coma. Jim feels that there is just not enough action or narrative in his film and wishes he had brought along some women. However, Jaybird now understands ‘the connection’.

A: Jack Gelber Pf: 1959, New York Pb: 1961 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Leach's room in an American city, 1950s C: 14m, 1f

Hailed by the critic Kenneth Tynan as ‘The most exciting new play that off-Broadway has produced since the war’, The Connection introduced a new and disturbing realism to American theatre, laying the foundation for writers like Shepard and Mamet. Making few concessions to plot or coherent dialogue, Gelber offered instead brash live music and a shocking portrayal of heroin addicts first craving then injecting their chemical dream.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) — Theatre.

Reference entries

Jack Gelber (1932—2003)

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