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The drama of life unfolding: The life and work of Steve Tesich

Michael Allan Rothmayer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation examines the life and work of writer Steve Tesich (1942–1996). Tesich, perhaps best known as the Academy Award-winning screen writer of the 1979 film Breaking Away, was also the author of eleven plays, two musicals and two published novels as well as five other produced screenplays. Included in the dissertation is a brief biography of Tesich's life beginning with his childhood in Yugoslavia, tracing his immigration to America and concluding with his career as a writer. Arranged in a rough chronological order by writing genre, Chapter two covers Tesich's early work in theatre beginning with his unpublished 1969 play The Predators and concluding with Division Street (1980). Chapter three illuminates Tesich's work on the musicals Gorky (1975) and King of Hearts (1978). Chapter five deals with Tesich's last four plays beginning with The Speed of Darkness (1989) and concluding with Arts and Leisure (1996). Primary emphasis is given to Tesich's theatre work in Chapters two, three and five. Each includes detailed analyses of plot, character, and Tesich's use of language as well as recurring themes and the extensive use of autobiographical references in his writing. Chapter four provides an overview of his produced screenplays beginning with Breaking Away (1979) and concluding with Eleni (1985). Chapter six focuses on Tesich's two published novels Summer Crossing (1982) and Karoo (1998). Chapter seven touches on Tesich's other writings (i.e. song lyrics, essays, unpublished novels and screenplays). An Appendix to the dissertation offers extensive plot outlines for each of the plays and musicals arranged in alphabetical order by show title. ^

Subject Area

Biography|Theater|Literature, American|Cinema

Recommended Citation

Rothmayer, Michael Allan, "The drama of life unfolding: The life and work of Steve Tesich" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3045533.