Goodman, Kenneth Sawyer

(1883-1918)
   The privileged son of a Chicago lumber millionaire, Kenneth Sawyer Goodman was drawn away from his family business toward the arts. After working as a volunteer with the Art Institute of Chicago, Goodman crafted nearly 50 one-act plays, masques, and pageants at the height of the Chicago arts and literary renaissance in the decade prior to World War I. Goodman collaborated with both Ben Hecht and Thomas Wood Stevens, but he also wrote many plays on his own, including The Game of Chess (1912) and Back of the Yards (1913). With Hecht, Goodman collaborated on The Wonder Hat (1914) and The Hero of Santa Maria (1915), the last of which was produced by the Washington Square Players in 1917. His collaborations with Stevens were mostly masques and pageants. Poised to write a full-length play and working on a plan for a repertory theatre and drama school, Goodman died suddenly during the 1918 influenza epidemic while serving in the U.S. Navy. His untimely death may have cost the American theatre a significant playwright, but his passing led his grieving parents to establish Chicago's Goodman Theatre and school, a posthumous realization of their son's dream.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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