Author Archives: Howard Stein

Dr. Howard Stein on Why Playwrights Must Experiment with the Audience

[Author's Note: This is a portion of a speech I gave to the Southeast Theatre Conference in 2000.]

In Robert Aulett’s play, Alberta Radiance, Alberta speaks the opening like, “I have this human life to live, and I don’t know what to do with it.”  The operative word is human, as in “the human condition,” “the human predicament” or “the human comedy.”  When we utter such expressions, we assume the listener knows what we mean, but in my 78 years of living, I have never heard anyone explain what that “human” condition, predicament, comedy or life is.

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The Heart of this Nation

My brother, Frank, will be ninety in December. He was a math teacher in high school for ten years and a teacher of rhetoric, speech, and theatre in college for thirty years. He lives in a nursing facility in Florida, where with the help of nurses, nurses’ aids, doctors, and the kindness of strangers his mind is active despite a frail body.

I, his baby brother age seventy-six, am his power-of-attorney and speak to him as often as I possibly can.

Yesterday I spoke to him early in the day, and he was completely dispirited.

“Babe,” he said, “I can’t bare it any more. That horrible incident in Oregon crushes me. Would you do me a favor? Would you write something that I have been preaching for decades now?”

“I’ll do anything I can for you,” I answered.

“Maybe you could send it to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times or The Saturday Review?,” he said.

“The Saturday Review is not likely, Frank,” I said without explaining. “But I will send whatever you say to The Times.”

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