Edited by Keith Newlin and Frederic E. Rusch

The Collected Plays of 
Theodore Dreiser

Although Theodore Dreiser achieved prominence as a novelist and short story writer, he also experimented with dramatic form. From 1913 to 1920, Dreiser wrote some of Americaís first symbolist and expressionist plays. His one-act plays are often filled with mysticism and his characters often rely on "supernatural" and spiritual forces to guide their decisions and behaviors. Such theatre troupes as the Washington Square Players and the Provincetown Players staged his probingly realistic dramas, and for this they met with much critical controversy. Dreiserís one-act plays were often considered experimental and many critics disagreed with Dreiserís views. By the more conservative, Dreiserís four-act play was regarded as shockingly lurid; by others it was regarded an exciting representation of deviant behavior. His impressive dramatic ability is renowned, as are his methods of depicting character psychology to create added dimension to his plays. Dreiserís plays and expressionist views have had an enormous impact on playwrights who followed after him, including Thornton Wilder. Even though he is not particularly well known for his plays, his impact on the dramatic form will never be forgotten.

This edition is a newly-edited collection of Dreiserís twelve complete plays, which originally appeared in Plays of the Natural and Supernatural (1916), The Hand of the Potter (1918), Hey Rub a Dub Dub (1920), as well as one previously unpublished play (The Voice). It also includes a comprehensive historical and critical introduction, detailed textual commentary, and informative appendices.


Keith Newlin, associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, teaches courses in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century American literature and drama. His research focuses upon the formation of turn-of-the-century avant-garde drama, the companies that staged the plays, and especially novelists who were attracted by the footlights. He is the co-editor of Dreiser Studies, an international scholarly journal, and has published essays about Dreiserís plays (as well as Jack Londonís and Hamlin Garlandís). His Selected Letters of Hamlin Garland appeared in 1998 from the University of Nebraska Press. Newlin has also published Hamlin Garland: A Bibliography, With a Checklist of Unpublished Letters, available from Whitston Publishing Company.

Frederic E. Rusch, professor of English at Indiana State University, is a co-founder of the International Theodore Dreiser Society and co-author of Theodore Dreiser: A Primary Bibliography and Reference Guide, the standard reference book on works by and about Dreiser. He has recently retired from Dreiser Studies, after serving the journal in various capacities, including Editor, for over 25 years. In addition to compiling an annual checklist of works by and about Dreiser that appeared in issues of Dreiser Studies and its predecessor, The Dreiser Newsletter, he has published two articles about The Hand of the Potter, in which he identifies Dreiserís source of the play as a 1912 murder in New York City and examines some of the variants in prepublication versions of the text.

The Collected Plays of Theodore Dreiser
Whitston Publishing Company
1717 Central Avenue, Suite 201
Albany, NY 12205
Phone (518) 452-1900
Fax (518) 452-1777
May 2000
ISBN 0-87875-510-1