Dramaturgy

by Anna Jones

August: Osage County

by Tracy Letts

Welcome

August: Osage County is not your average kitchen sink drama. While its characters are a family in a small town, the conflict that arises is anything but small. You will soon find that the Weston family you are about to meet perhaps has more secrets than their blunt remarks to one another initially hint at. Most of these remarks come from the Weston matriarch, Violet, whose particular brand of corrosive behavior is exacerbated by her drug addiction. The pills Violet uses in combination with her cancer of the mouth cause her to sometimes speak somewhat incomprehensibly and at times to behave in a nonsensical manner.

In addition to the struggles of Violet with her mouth cancer, it is helpful to take note of the backdrop to the story, the town of Pawhuska in which the family house is placed. Pawhuska is located in Osage County, northwest of Tulsa. The playwright, Tracy Letts, himself was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Craine) Osage County is named so because of the Osage Nation, which was established there on a reservation in 1872. The territory soon became a place for burgeoning oil prospectors to establish themselves. To this day Osage County remains a rural area with a heavy oil business and a significant Native American influence upon its culture. (Welcome to the Osage)

At the time of the play’s opening, the Weston family home has long been an empty nest for Beverly and Violet, their three daughters having moved out and begun lives of their own. As you will see the late summer heat is encroaching upon the closed off and secluded home. What remains to be seen is how much metaphorical heat those within the house will be able to take. Welcome to August: Osage County.

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