Sticks and Bones

By David Rabe


Sticks and Bones is a 1971 play by David Rabe. The black comedy focuses on David, a blind Vietnam War veteran who finds himself unable to come to terms with his actions on the battlefield and alienated from his family because they neither can accept his disability nor understand his wartime experience. Rabe explores the conflicted feelings of many civilians during the era by parodying the ideal American family as it was portrayed on the television sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Beneath the perfect facade of the playwright’s fictional Nelson family are layers of prejudice, bigotry, and self-hatred that are peeled away slowly as they interact with their physically and emotionally damaged son and brother.




Sticks and Bones was the second play in Rabe’s Vietnam trilogy, following The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and preceding Streamers. A veteran himself, he wrote it while a graduate student at Villanova University, where it was staged in 1969. The off-Broadway production, directed by Jeff Bleckner, opened on November 7, 1971 at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, where it ran for 121 performances. The cast included David Selby as David, Tom Aldredge as Ozzie, Elizabeth Wilson as Harriet, Cliff DeYoung as Rick, and Charles Siebert as Father Donald.

Critical reaction and audience response were positive, and Papp decided to move the play uptown. With Drew Snyder replacing Selby but the rest of the cast intact, the Broadway production opened on March 1, 1972 at the John Golden Theatre, where it ran for 246 performances.

In 1973, David Rabe wrote the teleplay for and Robert Downey Sr. directed a CBS television movie based on Rabe’s play. The cast included DeYoung as David, Aldredge as Ozzie, and Anne Jackson as Harriet. The subject matter was so controversial half of the network’s affiliates refused to broadcast the film.[1]




Type & Version
Nov 07, 1971– Feb 20, 1972 Play, Original
Public Theatre, New York, NY
Mar 01, 1972 – Oct 01, 1972 Play, Original
John Golden Theatre, New York, NY
Nov 06, 2014 – Dec 14, 2014 Play, Revival
Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre, NYC

Trailer from 2014 – The New Group Production



2014 Credits


Richard Chamberlain
Nadia Gan
Holly Hunter
Morocco Omari
Bill Pullman
Ben Schnetzer
Raviv Ullman



The New Group, Producer
Scott Elliott, Founding Artistic Director
David Rabe, Playwright
Michael Bodeen, Original Music
Rob Milburn, Original Music
Scott Elliott, Director
Derek McLane, Set Designer
Susan Hilferty, Costume Designer
Peter Kaczorowski, Lighting Designer
Michael Bodeen, Sound Designer
Rob Milburn, Sound Designer
Olivia Sebesky, Projections Designer
Olivia Sebesky, Video Design

1972 Broadway Credits


Tom Aldredge Ozzie
The Family
Cliff De Young Rick
The Family
Hector Elias The Sgt. Major
Asa Gim The Girl
Charles Siebert The Priest
Drew Snyder David
The Family
Elizabeth Wilson Harriet
The Family




Produced by The New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, Producer)

Associate Producer: Bernard Gersten
Written by David Rabe
Featuring the song “Baby When I Find You” with music by Galt MacDermot with lyrics by David Rabe
Directed by Jeff Bleckner
Scenic Design by Santo Loquasto
Costume Design by Theoni V. Aldredge
Lighting Design by Ian Calderon
Slides Photographed by Joseph Linsalata
Assistant to Mr. Loquasto: Marjorie Kellogg
General Manager: Eugene Wolsk and Emanuel Azenberg
Company Manager: Michael Brandman
Production Stage Manager: David Eidenberg
Assistant Stage Mgr: Tom Gardner


1971 Off Broadway


Name Role
Tom Aldredge Ozzie
Cliff DeYoung Rick
Hector Elias The Sgt. Major
Asa Gim The Girl
David Selby David
Charles Siebert The Priest
Elizabeth Wilson Harriet




Joseph Papp, Producer
The Public Theater, Producer
Bernard Gersten, Associate Producer
David Rabe, Playwright
Galt MacDermot, Music
David Rabe, Lyricist
Jeff Bleckner, Director
Santo Loquasto, Set Designer
Theoni V. Aldredge, Costume Designer
Ian Calderon, Lighting Designer
Merle Debuskey, Press Representative
Bob Ullman, Press Representative
David Eidenberg, Stage Manager


Awards and Nominations



  • 1972 Tony Award for Best Play
  • 1972 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (Elizabeth Wilson)
  • 1972 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play (Tom Aldredge)
  • 1972 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play (Jeff Bleckner)
  • 1972 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design (Santo Loquasto)
  • 1972 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play
  • 1972 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play (Jeff Bleckner)
  • 1972 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play (Tom Aldredge)



The play was parodied by Christopher Durang in his 1977 play The Vietnamization of New Jersey.



1. Sticks and Bones at the British Film Institute website


External Links


  • Sticks and Bones at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Sticks and Bones at the Internet off-Broadway Database
  • Sticks and Bones (film) at the Internet Movie Database






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Sticks and Bones

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