TU To Present Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play 'The Time of Your Life' Feb. 10-14

Tuesday, February 16, 1999

Published on 2/16/99

A waterfront honky-tonk is a microcosm of America in the years preceding World War II in William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy-drama “The Time of Your Life,” to be presented by The University of Tulsa’s Department of Theatre Feb. 10-14.

The play is a story of several characters, including Joe the Irish American, Nick the Italian American, a Greek newsboy and a prostitute, who meet in a waterfront saloon in San Francisco where they share the trials and tribulations of their lives.

“The play is a celebration of the common people and their ability to triumph over poverty and disillusionment through love and fantasy,” says David Cook, chairman of TU’s Department of Theatre and director of the play.

When Saroyan first presented the play in New York in 1939, critics scoffed at its idealism and dismissed it as escapist entertainment, Cook says. But many of them soon began to appreciate its optimism and honest examination of American life and the dreams of its citizens, he says. The play soon won enough respect to win a Pulitzer Prize and a Drama Critics’ Circle Award.

“There was a need for optimism in the late 1930s, so the public eagerly embraced the play,” Cook says.

Saroyan shows “that we need to make the most of our lives, and have compassion for those weaker than ourselves,” Cook says.

The playwright shows how optimism and compassion in the face of adversity can be reached in the American system of democracy and freedom. To do this, he uses images of Americana throughout the play, such as the folk hero Kit Carson and a pinball machine that plays “America the Beautiful.”

Scenic and lighting designer is Curt Selby, costumer designer is Yslan Hicks, scenic artist is Niki McDonald and stage manger is Sabrina Darby. The cast includes 23 TU students.

Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 10-13 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for Tulsa area students and senior citizens, and $2 for TU students, faculty and staff. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or at the TU Box Office at Kendall Hall or by calling 631-2567. Box office hours are 12-4 p.m.