American Roulette


Thomas McCormack

Published by Dramatists Play Service

2 Male 1 Female

A black man named Sam has come for an interview. The firm is unspecified, described only as "the most powerful firm there is"

Two very privileged-looking whites, Charles and Hillary, carry out the interview. They tell him that the only qualification needed is desire to be in the firm

The interview amounts to a series of tests designed to trick Sam: Hillary tries to seduce him, Charles gives him a fake IQ test, they ignore him, they try to frighten him, Charles taunts him about his

Sam sees they are not taking him seriously but nevertheless he responds flawlessly, and it looks as though they will have to take him into the firm

At last Charles pressures Sam into a kind of cowboys-and-Indians game; they shoot at each other with blanks. "American roulette!" Charles shouts gleefully, and just then Sam's gun fires a real bullet and Charles is killed

Hillary then seizes a gun and kills Sam. The candidate is rejected, Hillary announces, because he does not show sufficient desire to be in the firm

Selected for production of the Playwrights Unit, in New York City, this remarkably original and perceptive work details a tense, contemporary American crisis

Alternately hilarious and chilling in its incisive examination of a black job-seeker being "interviewed" by two white personnel experts, the play moves swiftly, and inexorably, to an explosive unforgettable climax

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