Family & Companions
This celebrated American playwright utilized his background as a medical corpsman during the Vietnam War to pen three plays about that period: "Sticks and Bones" (Off-Broadway, 1971, Broadway 1972), "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel" (Off-Broadway 1971) and "Streamers" (Off-Broadway 1976). David Rabe won a Tony for "Sticks and Bones" and "Pavlo Hummel" became a more recognized piece when Al Pacino starred in a 1977 Broadway revival. "Streamers," about life in an army barracks at the outset of the Vietnam War, found a wider audience in Robert Altman's 1983 film version which Rabe scripted.
Although his hometown of Dubuque is possibly the least homogenous city in America, Rabe in his plays delves deeply into basic human motivations that cut across universal lines. In addition to his Vietnam "trilogy," he wrote "In the Boom Boom Room" (1973-74), which centered on a go-go dancer, and "Hurlyburly" (1984), about lost chances in Hollywood and the bloated notion of creativity. He made his stage directorial debut with his own play "Those the River Keeps" in 1994.
Rabe's screen work has been sporadic, but has often yielded critically-praised material. He served as executive producer and scripter on "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can" (1982), about a show business executive coping with her addiction to pills, which starred his wife Jill Clayburgh. He covered familiar ground with "Casualties of War" (1989), about a US patrol in Vietnam and its brutal treatment of a local girl. After an absence of many years, Rabe received screen credit alongside Robert Towne and David Rayfiel on Sydney Pollack's film version of the John Grisham novel "The Firm" (1993). In 1998, after many years of false starts, his script for "Hurlyburly" made it before the cameras with a cast led by Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey and Meg Ryan and the following year saw the filming of "In the Boom Boom Room," with Patricia Arquette in the role of the stripper.
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Served in the US Army
"Sticks and Bones", a play about a Vietnam veteran and the first of a loose triology dealing with the war, premiered in Villanova, Pennsylvania
"Sticks and Bones" produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival; later moves to Broadway
"The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel" premiered in NYC at The New York Shakespeare Festival
"Streamers", the third play in his Vietnam triology produced at Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, Connecticut; moved to Off-Broadway
Was executive producer, wrote screenplay for "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can"
Wrote screenplay for Robert Altman's film version of "Streamers"
"Hurlyburly" had world premiere in Chicago at Goodman Theatre
Scripted "Casualties of War"
Co-wrote screen adaptation of "The Firm"
Made stage directorial debut with "Those the River Keeps"
Wrote screen adaptation of "Hurlyburly"
Premiered "The Dog Problem", a new play produced Off-Broadway