THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH: Inspiration and Echoes
Where did Thornton Wilder get his inspiration? And who was, in turn, inspired by this play?
The list is impressive and surprising...
“Kushner’s ambitious metatheatrical fantasia builds on the suffering of the apocalypse to renew the world, embracing the determination and positivity of The Skin of Our Teeth as a source for theatre as a place to bear witness, rethink things and rebuild.” -Kyle Gillette, professor at Trinity College
Artists like Pablo Picasso had been shattering the convention of realism in order to expose deeper truths for years before Thornton Wilder and playwrights like him (including Gertrude Stein) brought the form-breaking style of The Skin of Our Teeth to Broadway.
“I am astonished each time I read him, at the force of his work, at the subtle blend of humor and pathos, and his masterful balancing act of abstraction and empathy. I remember anew how much I owe to him, and see in his work the roots or parallels of so many theatrical forebears and influences on my own work: Friedrich Durrenmatt, Bertolt Brecht, Samuel Beckett, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, and John Guare.
- Paula Vogel, playwright
Thornton Wilder was clearly influenced by the epic scope and stylistic audacity of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. By constructing a style that gives the audience the experience of a fractured, absurd world, both Joyce and Wilder deepen the meaning of their words.
“We see Wilder’s trace too in the brilliant repetitions and revisions...of one of the boldest American playwrights since Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks. In all her plays, especially The America Play, Parks uses metatheatre in a way Wilder would deeply appreciate.” - Kyle Gillette professor at Trinity College
The irreverent, and often absurdist, comedy of the Marx Brothers seems right at home alongside the humor and wit in The Skin of Our Teeth. Both draw deeply from the vaudeville tradition of turning comic archetypes on their head.
Remy Bumppo Field Guide @ 2018