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Elmer Rice

Rice, Elmer, 1892–1967, American dramatist, b. New York City, LL.B. New York Law School, 1912. After the success of his first play, On Trial (1914), he turned his interests to the theater. Rice's first major contribution to the American stage was The Adding Machine (1923), an expressionistic play satirizing man in the machine age. Street Scene (1929; operatic version by Kurt Weill, 1947), one of his most compassionate works, is a realistic drama of tenement life in New York. His plays of the 1930s—including Counsellor-at-Law (1931), We, the People (1933), and Between Two Worlds (1934)—continued to express his social and political views. Although Dream Girl (1945), a romantic comedy, was a huge success, his later plays for the most part lack the power of his early works. He was also the author of novels and of essays, some of which were published as The Living Theatre (1959). During the 1930s Rice was regional director of the N.Y. Federal Theater project.

See his autobiography Minority Report (1963); A. F. Palmieri, Elmer Rice: A Playwright's Vision of America (1980).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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