We Bombed in New Haven – Joseph Heller (1967)

We Bombed in New Haven is a 1967 play by Joseph Heller. An anti-war black comedy, it is thematically linked in part to Heller’s famous novel Catch-22. The play opened on Broadway at the Ambassador Theatre on October 16, 1968, and closed on December 29, 1968, after 85 performances. The play is heavily metatheatrical, being not only staged at but also set at the Ambassador Theatre, the actors playing actors appearing in a play at the Ambassador. This play-within-a-play concerns a strategic bombing squadron; the squadron commander frequently steps out of character to reassure the audience that they are only watching a play. This conceit is carried to the point where the actors themselves exhibit confusion over whether they really are actors playing airmen, or actual airmen. For instance, in the second act, Henderson (played by Ron Leibman) is scheduled to be killed – he knows this, being familiar with the script, and is not worried; but then later, a corporal is killed on a mission and Henderson is unable to find him offstage. Henderson worries that the corporal really has been killed, and that perhaps the ‘play’ is reality. This ‘phantasmagoric world in which actors might not know where the grease paint ended and the blood began’, where the audience is led to believe in both levels of reality as the borders blend and blur in manner reminiscent of the works of Luigi Pirandello, is used by Heller to satirize and excoriate the moral blindness that leads people to treat war as spectacle, equating the real death and suffering of war with the deaths of actors in war movies. … Prior to its Broadway opening, the play was premiered in New Haven by the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1967 starring Stacy Keach, Estelle Parsons, and Ron Leibman (who went with the play to Broadway). In the original Broadway production, players included Ron Leibman, Anthony Holland, Jason Robards, Diana Sands and William Roerick. Although its eleven-week run was respectable, the play is generally considered to have not been a success, but a Broadway revival was staged in 1972 at the Circle in the Square Theatre, featuring Steven Keats and James Doerr, and the play has been occasionally staged at various venues throughout the rest of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. …”
NY Times – Heller’s ‘We Bombed in New Haven’ Opens By CLIVE BARNES (October 17, 1968)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s