'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.

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Why Theatre Is So Important

The historical and cultural significance of keeping theater alive.

While I am not specifically involved in the theater, I attend a liberal arts college where I receive an education in a variety of subjects. My education teaches me to be knowledgeable of the theater and arts in a way where most other schools would not. I have learned the benefits of receiving a liberal arts education as well as getting out and experiencing the theater and performing arts. Here are some of the historical and cultural benefits to experiencing the theater and performing arts.

The theater and performing arts are a great way to learn about culture and the world around us. Most people who do not go out and experience theater, do not know as much about culture and the world around them. Theater has existed in the world for centuries, and should not die out or become irrelevant. Going to the theater allows people to experience culture and partake in activities that their ancestors might have once done. Going to the theater carries on the human tradition of going out and enjoying entertainment in the form of theater just as humans have been doing for centuries. Most people in today's culture watch Netflix, or rent movies, so it is extremely important to go to the theater and keep that tradition alive.

Not only does going to the theater help people to experience history just as humans have been doing for centuries. Going to the theater also allows people to learn about history and culture from whatever show it is that they may be seeing. Theater and theatrical presentations are filled with historical and cultural information from whatever time period the show is being written in. Furthermore, if a show is set in a different time period than the one it is being written in, it can also teach about the time period that the show is being set in. There is so much that the theater can teach about history and culture. From the clothing that people wore during the time period of the show, to the way people talked and acted. Shakespearean plays, for example, take place and a historical and cultural period much different than our own. Through his plays, we learn about different mannerisms, cultural norms, and how people dressed and acted at the time of his plays.

In a society that is quickly being taken over by technology, it is important to keep the history and culture of our society alive. Going to the theater and enjoying the performing arts is just one of the many ways to keep our society's culture and history alive and well in our rapidly changing world.

Cover Image Credit: Luisfpizarro

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I Was In 'The Room Where It Happens,' And It's Filled With Inspiration

Click-boom, then it happened!


Click-boom. That's the phrase that comes to mind when I think about how a short 24 hours ago I was entering Richard Rodgers Theatre to see a little-known Broadway show: "Hamilton: An American Musical."

Before I go on and on about how amazing and captivating this show really is, I do want to let anyone reading this know how fortunate and lucky I feel that I got to even see this musical in person. This is probably the hottest show to see in the world right now (not to mention that tickets are more than a little bit expensive), and to be able to receive tickets as a Christmas gift is incredible. In other words, it's safe to say my parents did more than reasonably well this year.

I've been listening to Hamilton for a good two years now, so I would call myself a fan of the show but not a die-hard one. My little sister, on the other hand, practically knows every line from listening to it for the past couple of months and she got me even more into it from that. With her Christmas wishes and endless rapping every time she plugged in her earbuds- which happens way more than you would think- we were soon on our way to see Hamilton to kick off our 2019 in the best way.

"Hamilton" is a show that is literally consisted of the entire soundtrack that you can hear on Spotify, YouTube and practically anywhere you get your music from; but what makes seeing the whole thing live is how you feel with each note and instrument strum throughout your body and you get to see the movements and facial expressions of it all in real time. This is the case for all musicals and musicians when comparing recordings to their live performances (a.k.a. they are two totally different experiences), but "Hamilton" truly has an additional feeling that goes along with this regular one- well, at least it did for me.

Once the lights dimmed and the music immediately began to sound the title track, tears literally started to spring to my eyes. For the "Hamilton" listeners that know how the first song goes, it isn't the most emotional song in the show by any means, and I admit to feeling a bit silly for crying during this song in particular. But I think this has to do with the fact that I was seeing a song that I've been listening to for a while be performed right before my eyes, and add in the building-up-to-something-insanely-crazy tone of the whole rap, I found myself thinking I would cry through the whole show.

Turns out I didn't do that (well, I cried during two actually emotional songs: "Burn" and "It's Quiet Uptown"), but I felt myself completely enthralled with the show from start to finish. Usually daily tasks and life thoughts seem to widdle their way into my stream of consciousness during a live show that wants to pull me back to reality, but last night, I was living in the 16th century for a full three hours.

Seeing this show live made me appreciate history, and Lin-Manuel Miranda's craft, even more- if that was possible. It took Miranda eight years to finish just the songs that take up the entirety of the show, and that's without getting a cast together or a theatre to pitch the show to and have them host it.

Whenever I go to a show, I also analyze the technicalities as to how much actual work went into creating the show as well as making it a live production since I am a performer myself and have done theatre since high school. "Hamilton" has been one of the few shows I strongly believe has taken such an insurmountable amount of integrity, creativity and passion; this goes for any show, of course, but this one had to culminate the entire life of one of the Founding Fathers in an accurate and concise fashion. To this I say, "Lin-Manuel Miranda, you are a lyrical genius in every sense of the word. May I take a look inside your crazy, creative mind for just one second?"

And that's the other thing- "Hamilton" has made me realize for another time that creativity is truly limitless. No idea is crazy, and anything is possible, but you need to take the time to be patient with yourself and just look at what you have and see what you need. You may have to wait years for this plan to become a real thing, but if you stay on course, there is simply nothing that can stop the greatness from becoming real. This is the case with Miranda and Alexander Hamilton, and hopefully myself one day when my name is up in lights somewhere.

So "Hamilton" is a definite must-see for anyone in my book, and hopefully it will spark something inside of more people like myself. And to any Hamil-haters out there who say the show is "overrated" or "not even that great", you are of course entitled to your opinion; but as the witty King George III sang in the show, "You're on your own."


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