Skip to main content
Show Overview

Awake and Sing! Story

Generally considered Clifford Odets' finest play, Awake and Sing! was originally performed by the notable Group Theater on Broadway in 1935. By turns starkly dramatic and vividly comic, it is the story of the Bergers, a lower-middle-class, three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Depression. Odets, who described his play as “a struggle for life amid petty conditions,” captures the frenetic, pressured existence in this crowded dwelling with robust authenticity. The Berger family members and their boarder, Moe Axelrod, all long for a better world for themselves. True to life in his depiction of the extreme economic hardships confronted by working-class immigrant families [IMG:L]during the Depression, Odets documents their travails and their hopes, concluding Awake and Sing! on an optimistic if ambiguous note. Awake and Sing! recalls that this country has been perceived as a source of opportunity for immigrants who re-root themselves in its cities and towns with an enduring belief in the American dream. Odets' characters are, in essence, the parents, grandparents, and children who sought refuge and forged new, sometimes better lives here. Such families—from Korea or Mexico or Pakistan or from just about anywhere around the globe—continue to make their way here every day.
Back to Top