By: Orson Welles
Publication Date: 2019-08-09
Number of pages: 200
Before The Cradle Will Rock, before War of the Worlds, before Citizen Kane—there was Marching Song.
At the age of 25 Orson Welles co-wrote, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane, widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. But this was not the first achievement in the young artist’s career. A few years earlier he terrorized America with his radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. And even before he conquered the airwaves, Welles had made a name for himself in New York theatre, with his dynamic stagings of Shakespeare classics and the politically charged musical The Cradle Will Rock. But before all of these there was Marching Song—a play about abolitionist John Brown—that Welles had co-written at the age of 17. While attending the Todd School for Boys, Welles collaborated with Roger Hill, the schoolmaster at Todd, to produce this full-length drama.
Marching Song: A Play is a work by one of America’s true geniuses at an early stage of his creative growth. Steeped in historical detail, the play chronicles Brown’s fight against slavery, his raid on Harper’s Ferry, his capture, his conviction for treason, and his execution. In addition to the entire text of the play, this volume features a biographical sketch of Welles and Hill—written by Hill’s grandson—during their days together at Todd.
A fascinating dramatization of a pivotal event in American history, this play also demonstrates Welles’ burgeoning development as social commentator and an advocate for human rights, particularly on behalf of African Americans. Featuring a foreword by noted Welles biographer, Simon Callow, Marching Song: A Play is an important work by an American icon.
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