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Time of Your Life


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A: William Saroyan Pf: 1939, New York Pb: 1939 G: Drama in 5 acts S: San Francisco waterfront bar, Oct. 1939 C: 18m, 9fThe regulars in Nick's Pacific Street Saloon are drinking, talking, and playing the pinball machine and jukebox. Joe sits and drinks, because without alcohol life would be just ‘Minutes on the clock, not time of living’. Kitty Duval, a pretty prostitute, enters, and Joe's slow-witted friend Tom instantly adores her. Joe gives Tom $5, so that he can go with Kitty to her room. The arrival of the villainous vice-squad chief Blick spoils the easygoing atmosphere. The proprietor Nick throws him out, and hires a comedian as a dancer and a black boy Wesley as a pianist. Tom reappears to tell Joe that Kitty is weeping about her past, and Joe goes to console her. Giving her some toys, he urges Tom to love and protect her. As the day moves into evening, more customers appear. Joe finds Tom a job as a truck driver and urges him and Kitty to marry and start a new life. Blick reappears, forces the unwilling Kitty to perform a striptease, and beats up Wesley and an old trapper called Kit Carson, when they protest about his treatment of Kitty. Joe tries and fails to shoot Blick, but Carson kills Blick in the street and begins to reminisce about the time he shot a man in San Francisco.

A: William Saroyan Pf: 1939, New York Pb: 1939 G: Drama in 5 acts S: San Francisco waterfront bar, Oct. 1939 C: 18m, 9f

This is the best of Saroyan's 45 plays and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, which he rejected. With obvious echoes of The Lower Depths and anticipating The Iceman Cometh, Saroyan's play is randomly constructed, with the Tom–Kitty relationship forming the only progression in the plot (Blick's removal is almost incidental to it and possibly has not even happened). While the naturalistic setting and dialogue are in the tradition of American realist theatre, musical underscoring and the abandonment of sustained narrative look forward to new theatre forms.

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


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Authors

William Saroyan (1908—1981)


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