'Curse Of The Starving Class' Is More Relevant Today Than Ever Before

'Curse Of The Starving Class' Is More Relevant Today Than Ever Before

One of the most storied playwrights ever reveals many things in his most famous work.


A theme that seemed very common in Shepard's play was the sheer bad luck and so-called "curse" of the Tate family. This Californian farm family composed of a drunk father (Weston), a son and daughter (Wesley and Emma), and an unforgiving mother (Ella) go through struggles that become more escalated as each ego begins to grow, leading to the demise of Emma, and in turn the whole family.

The "family curse" is apparent from the beginning. Wesley, the oldest and only son, has a brief conversation with the mother, Ella, over Weston's drunk episode the night before. It was one of concern, and Wesley feels "lonely" and sees Ella calling the cops, "humiliating" the family.

When Ella gives Wesley news about selling the farm to her "lawyer friend" and moving to Europe, Wesley is almost infuriated, knowing that he takes care of the livestock and horses and tends to the home more than any of the family members. Wesley is the only Tate that really does care about the home they live in, and at times, shows real concern for the family members around him.

Emma, the younger sibling and only daughter, has aspirations of moving out of the house and is the rebel of the home. She's very brash, selfish, and almost uncontrollable, just like Weston. She threatens to leave the family by taking the Horse out of town due to lack of "consideration" that the family has for her things — Wesley pissing on Emma's chicken project, for example.

Emma later in act two gets arrested for vandalizing Alibi's Club (owned by the character Ellis) because she felt the life of crime made a quick profit and was deemed "the perfect self-employment" as explained in the middle of act two, her final words before her death. Her devious ways indeed made her pay when the Packard exploded at the end of the play.

The parents, Ella and Weston, are the most responsible for the curse set upon this family. Although they are in different stages mentally, Weston being drunk for most of the play and Ella being sober, the mistakes are very similar. They both try and sell the farmland to con-men. Taylor, a lawyer, conned Weston into buying the desert land and Ella figured she had beaten Weston into selling the home and could have filled Taylor's pocket even more.

Weston was in huge debt due to his alcohol and low-end job, so making foolish deals was detrimental to the Tate family. Ellis, the owner of the Alibi Club, also made a deal with Weston, giving Ellis the deed to the farm with $1500. However, when Taylor enters the home, Ellis believes that Weston didn't stick to his word and runs away with the cash and the house deed. This leads to the death of Emma, when two of Ellis's accomplices, Slater and Emerson, bomb Weston's Packard, the car Emma was supposed to take to leave the family.

Popular Right Now

18 Broadway Songs That Will Make You Want To Choreograph Them

Get out your character shoes, it's time to dance

Ever hear a show tune and instantly want to choreograph a number to it? Ever staged an all ensemble dance number? Ever see yourself teaching choreo to the Broadway cast of "A Chorus Line?" Well then this list might be for you.

1. "La Vie Boheme" - Rent

Anyone else want to come up with staging and choreography for one of the most iconic numbers in musical theatre history?

2. "Big Fun" - Heathers the Musical

Though this musical never made it to Broadway, I know you are dancing to it anyway.

3. "Hair" - Hair

Hairography, anyone?

4. "Saturday Night In The City" - The Wedding Singer

High energy and just makes you wanna go out and show off.

5. Time Warp - Rocky Horror Picture Show

6. "Mamma Mia" - Mamma Mia

Don't all theatre kids already know the choreo for this?

7. "Bend and Snap" - Legally Blonde the Musical

"Do it, and we'll go away." Seriously, bend and snap.

8. Staying Alive - Saturday Night Fever

No explanation needed here.

9. "Footloose" - Footloose

10. "Totally F****d" - Spring Awakening

Anyone else want to jump around on stage and curse like a sailor simultaneously?

11. "Brand New Day" - The Wiz

Anyone want to put a flash mob together with this song?!

12. "Do Your Own Thing" - Bring It On: The Musical

Tumbling and musical theatre in one musical is what this show is all about. Can we put every song on this list?

13. "Dancing Through Life" - Wicked

Time for the whole cast to dance together.

14. "Get Ready/Dancing in the Street" - Motown the Musical

This whole show is a throwback but the best blast to the past you could ask for.

15. "Revolting Children" - Matilda the Musical

These kids freaking kick ass in this number. It is insane.

16. "Money" - Cabaret

I can see it now.

17. "Don't Stop Believin'" - Rock of Ages

If New Directions can do it, we can too!

18. "Anything You Can Do" - Annie Get Your Gun

This number is basically a dance off.

Cover Image Credit: Bucks County Playhouse

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

11 Reasons Theater Scholarships Should Be More Popular Than Sports Scholarships

It's time we all recognized theater as something that requires just as much effort and skill as sports.


Before you get angry at this headline, I'm going to preface this with a fact about myself: I love sports. I myself played volleyball and tennis all throughout junior high and high school, and I am forever grateful for the lessons I learned while participating in those sports, and I will always remember the joy they brought me.

But there is another thing that has been a part of my life longer than sports, and that's theater.

I've been in love with the stage since I was five. I was constantly in shows as a young student, and I loved every second of it. And while I may not do theater anymore, I have never stopped loving it and recognizing how much work goes into every show. Theater deserves way more credit and recognition than it is currently given to it, and I believe that starts with theater scholarships. In order to raise up the next generation of artists, they need to be given the proper tools in order to succeed. Here are thirteen reasons why I believe theater scholarships should be more popular than sports scholarships.

1. Theater is more competitive than sports, maybe even more.


Sports try-outs are stressful, but I guarantee you there's nothing more stressful than competing against almost a hundred other people for a single role. At least with sports, there are multiple spots for people to try out for.

2. Athletes are not chosen for teams based on their appearance.


Sure, height is a part of the criteria for getting chosen for a team, but the main component of getting on a sports team is ability. With theater, you have to be talented enough to have the role and look the part, as well. I can't tell you how many times I've been rejected from roles because I have red hair.

3. The people who work behind the scenes are just as important as the actors themselves.


Sports teams have managers, but they tend to be more out in the open. In theater, there are stage managers, props masters, costume designers, lighting crews, and set designers. Without them, there would be no show. All their hard work should definitely be recognized.

4. Actors are just as committed to theater as athletes are to sports.


Actors have to follow a vigorous rehearsal and show schedule, as well as staying on top of their assignments, jobs, and spending time with their friends and family. Sometimes rehearsals go until midnight. This is very much like a practice schedule for athletes.

5. Theater requires actors to have many skills, not just one.


Athletes need to have all the basic athletic skills, but they usually just learn skills that are specific to their position. Actors have to be able to sing, dance, and act if they want to receive the roles they want.

6. Actors devote themselves to theater for years.


Actors don't just develop their talent overnight! It takes years and years of practice in order to become the best they can be. This means constantly attending all kinds of lessons and rehearsals in order to become one of the best of the best.

7. Memorizing lines, lyrics, cues, etc. is not easy.


Actors have to remember their lines, choreography, and cues all within a split second. This comes from hours of rehearsal and complete and total dedication to their role.

8. Theater helps people to develop a sense of drive.


If any actor wants to succeed in theater, they need to give each role their all, whether they're the lead or in the ensemble. Just like any athlete who wants a top spot on their team needs to put all the effort they can into it, actors need to put all the effort they can into becoming the best they can be.

9. Theatrical productions are a great way to give back to the young community.

So many kids look up to actors and actresses, and their stories of pursuing their dreams help kids to realize they can achieve those dreams too. Without actors and actresses to give back to the community, so many kids would be without great role models in the art world.

10. Theater is a great way to escape.


When actors perform in a show (and the audience comes to see a show), they find themselves being transported to a brand new place they've never been to before. They can find themselves in turn-of-the-century New York, Ancient Egypt, or even Oz. Sports still leave people in reality, but theater helps people forget reality for a while.

11. Theater brings so many people joy.


It's nearly impossible not to smile when you either watch or are a part of a show. Sports definitely make people (especially myself) happy, but theater has a special kind of joy that's all its own. And that definitely deserves some recognition.

Related Content

Facebook Comments