Beginnings (5)


Theresa Rebeck holds two master’s degrees from Brandeis University: an MA in English and American literature as well as an MFA in Dramatic Writing.  She received her PhD from Brandeis in English and American literature with her dissertation on Victorian melodrama.  The title of her dissertation is “Your cries are in vain: a theory of the melodramatic heroine” (1989).

Rebeck’s papers include some materials related to examination of 19th century plays, such as John Oxenford’s The Two Orphans (1874) in preparation for her dissertation, but also include notes and drafts of Rebeck’s adaptations of other plays as she studied dramatic structure and characters.  These academic efforts enlighten the careful plot construction and thoughtful roles and dialog in Rebeck’s playwriting.

Rebeck was quoted in American Theatre (October 2005): “I’m interested in work that is subversively accessible and yet intellectually and psychologically complex, and rewarding to a deeper understanding of theatrical storytelling and human psychology.  The people who achieve that are Charles Dickens, Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock.  I’m not saying I’m in their company, but that’s who I have my sights on.”

 This undated typescript is Theresa Rebeck’s draft adaptation of a 1920 science fiction play by Czech writer Karel Čapek, R.U.R. Rossum’s Universal Robots: a collective drama in a comic prologue and three acts, from a 1988 translation by Claudia Novack-Jones.  In addition to Rebeck’s edited script, the archive includes her notes analyzing all aspects of the play.