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Good for Otto, which premiered in October 2015 at the Gift Theater in Chicago, directed by Michael Patrick Thornton, is an unflinching portrayal of the world of mental illness and therapy. Drawing on material from Undoing Depression by Connecticut psychotherapist Richard O’Connor, it is a deeply moving look into the life of a number of patients trying to navigate personal trauma, including a profoundly troubled young girl, and one therapist, Dr. Michaels, who makes great efforts to help them, but is haunted by his own demons, and stymied by the financial obstacles of the American healthcare system.
Visiting Edna, which premiered in September 2016 at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, is a profound and stylistically dazzling portrayal of the bond between mother and son. As Edna, a woman in the last years of her life, faces a short future plagued by her many illnesses, from diabetes to arthritis to cancer, her son Andrew visits and they meet the emotional distance that has replaced the love they shared when he was a child. The question of how to communicate about death and their shared past is one that occupies them both as they attempt to navigate a future neither of them want to contemplate.
Taken together, the plays form a startling and thought-provoking vision of American society and cement Rabe’s place in the upper echelons of the canon of contemporary theater.
David Rabe is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. He is the author of numerous dramatic works, including Sticks and Bones, which won the Tony Award for Best Play, and The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, which won the Obie Award for distinguished playwriting. He is also the recipient of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Variety Poll Award, the National Institute and American Academy Award in Literature, and the PEN/Laura Pels Award for Master American Dramatist. He lives in Connecticut.