Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, David Mamet, Charles Fuller, and Marsha Norman were born and began their writing careers within ten years of one another. Thus while they are not linked as representatives of a particular movement or school, they are fellow members of a generation of writers. It is a generation that has come to prominence during a turning point in American theatre: From the mid-seventies to the present, emphasis on the written word has returned after a decade dominated by ""nonverbal"" theatre that subordinated language to the visual. Each of these five playwrights has regarded the written word as the centre of the theatrical production. The impact they have made on the theatre is reflected in their critical reception: All have received the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The contexts of race, religion, region, class and gender from which they write are very different, yet each is ""typically"" American in some way. Through interviews with Wilson, Mamet, Fuller, and Norman and critical study of works of all five, Harriott examines their disparate voice and distinctive images of America.
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