Digital Edition: Two Short Plays by Kenneth Sawyer Goodman
The book Two Short Plays by Kenneth Sawyer Goodman breathes new life into the historic Little Theatre movement in Chicago with this digital edition of two of Goodman’s best-known plays. “The Wonder Hat” and “Back of the Yards” recall that Goodman—still well-remembered as a key figure in Chicago’s theater scene and the man for whom the Goodman Theatre was named—wrote and produced his own works before the influenza epidemic of 1918 cut short his life.
Co-written in 1916 with Ben Hecht, “The Wonder Hat” comically updates classic European commedia del arte plays. “The Wonder Hat” was Goodman’s most widely performed play, and is still his best-remembered work. Whimsical illustrations accompany this vivid play that features a hat that confers invisibility on the wearer, a pair of star-crossed lovers, and the assurance that love still conquers all. In contrast, “Back of the Yards” presents a gritty realist drama about Irish Americans in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods where a cop and a priest collaborate to save a young man at risk.
In addition to original artwork that accompanies both plays, Ioana Cornea and Benjamin Goluboff’s critical introduction uses material from the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman archives at Chicago’s Newberry Library to illustrate Goodman’s life and career, the Little Theater Movement, and Goodman’s collaboration with Hecht.