Lynn Riggs’ Green Grow the Lilacs and the Staging of the American Folk (Musical)


Michael J. Bell (The Registry for College and University Presidents)

In 1931, the Theater Guild presented Oklahoma’s most famous playwright, Lynn Riggs, only Broadway play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Chosen one of the ten best plays of the year, and, adapted almost unchanged by Rogers and Hammerstein in 1942 into the legendary Oklahoma!, Riggs described the work as a “folk play in Six Scenes, with Songs and ballads of the period.” This presentation will examine the play’s use of traditional folksongs, the hero’s combat, the wooer’s play, the sword fight, the play party, and the shivaree to explore Riggs’ staging of the end of Oklahoma territorial folk culture as “the substance of an Ancient Song.”

Part of 03-12 Song and Performance, Thursday, October 13, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm