The Value of Names and Other Plays

Spanning a quarter of a century, this collection of plays demonstrates author Jeffrey Sweet’s eye for the drama of human relationships. Sweet works with sensitivity and irony to confront both personal politics and the impact of historical change. These nine works, taken together, present a playwright who extends the struggles of his small circles of characters to his audience and humanity in general.

The title work, first mounted in 1982, is a comedy-drama about the aftermath of the blacklist whose continued relevance makes it a frequently produced play today. The family drama Porch suggests larger social changes through the interaction of a small-town shopkeeper and his defiant daughter. The lauded American Enterprise, set in the Chicago of the robber barons, is a song-filled true story about a millionaire whose stubborn idealism leads to disaster. Stay Till Morning is a rueful comedy about sex and accommodation in the Florida Keys. The three plays that grew out of his fascination with the effects of World War II­—Berlin ’45, Court-Martial at Fort Devens,­ and The Action Against Sol Schumann—dramatize the ways in which that conflict transformed private fates. Each script is accompanied by an extended introduction from the playwright as well as complete performance notes.

"I read a lot of plays, but these are rare: ballsy, surprising, and, most of all, funny. . . . These plays are eminently producible and alive."—Mike Nichols

"Jeffrey Sweet is not only a gifted writer, he is a protean chronicler of our times. His characters are complex, yet identifiable; his stories are moving, and provocative. Thank god we now have all these enlightening, entertaining plays within easy reach."—Tom Fontana

“Like Shaw and Ibsen, Jeff Sweet is a moralist who uses the dramatic form to explore crucial decisions we face at critical junctures. . . Sometimes humorous, sometimes achingly painful, these are authentic people caught at a crossroad, and that makes for damn good drama.”—Marshall W. Mason, author of Creating Life on Stage