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Posted March 26, 2003
Anderson¿s 1935 verse tragedy, Winterset, which won him the first New York Drama Critics¿ Circle Award, is based on the infamous murder case of the 1920s when the Italian anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were arrested for the alleged murder of a paymaster and a guard during a robbery in Massachusetts and were convicted and electrocuted despite the insubstantial evidence against them. Winterset was Anderson¿s second attempt at dramatizing the Sacco and Vanzetti case, the first being his prose drama, Gods of the Lightning (1928) which he wrote with Harold Hickerson and which dealt with almost the same story in a realistic and propagandistic mode. Winterset was written eight years after the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. By this time Anderson did not wish to write merely a protest drama, as he did in Gods of the Lightning, but one that would transcend the prevalent realistic mode in drama and achieve a certain grandeur unheard of in modern American dramatic scene. At this time Anderson wished that American theater would go beyond the point of ¿journalistic social comment¿ and, occasionally, attain the ¿upper air of poetic tragedy¿. He finally decided to write most of Winterset in blank verse because, to him, prose signified ¿the language of information and poetry the language of emotion¿. In one of his essays, Anderson writes that he believes ¿with the early Bernard Shaw that the theatre is essentially a cathedral of the spirit, devoted to the exaltation of men'. As the story unfolds in Winterset, one learns that after the execution of Bartolomeo Romagna, who is modelled after Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a professor writes an article about a possible witness for the defence who was never called to testify at the trial. As a result of this, three men come to New York looking for the key witness, Garth. They all come to New York on a quest: either to expose the truth or to suppress it. The whole plot of the play centers on a detective-like quest and the process of discovering the truth of a murder in which the investigators are drawn to the solving of a mysterious crime and the discovery of the true murderer.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.