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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.
After returning from military service in Vietnam, he attended college at Villanova. He received his master's degree in theater from Villanova in 1968. Rabe used his experience in Vietnam as the basis for his first three works entitled "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel", "Sticks and Bones", and "Streamers." "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel," the winner of the 1971 OBIE Award for Distinguished Play, depicts the pain of the horrors of war and the nearness of death.
"Sticks and Bones," a play dealing with a blind Vietnam veteran's return to his insensitive home, earned him the Tony Award for best play and a special Critics' Circle citation for best play in 1972. The play also received the Tony Award for best performance by a leading actor, Tom Aldredge, who was nominated in 1972. In 1973 the play was adapted for television but was delayed for months after affiliate stations of CBS refused to show its emotionally overwhelming subject matter. When it was finally broadcast in August, 1973 more than ninety stations still declined to show it. (3) Al Pacino won for his performance in "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel" in 1977. (4) In 1977, Streamers won the Drama Desk Award, the Critics' Award, and was made into a movie directed by Robert Altman. (5)
Among Rabe’s other plays are "Hurlyburly" and "Those the River Keeps," two dramas about the disillusionment in Hollywood. "Hurlyburly," nominated for a 1998 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best New Play of 1997 season, was later made into a major motion picture starring Sean Penn and Meg Ryan. Rabe's accomplishments include screenplays for "I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can;" "Casualties of War," another work based on the realities of the Vietnam war; the screenplay for John Grisham’s novel "The Firm."(6) He was also the screen writer for "State of Grace" (1990) and "The Burning" (1981). (7)
After success writing plays and screenplays, Rabe turned to novels. His works include Recital of the Dog (1993), a work of black humour; Dinosaurs on the Roof (2008); and Girl by the Road at Night (2009). A Primitive Heart (2005) is a collection of his short stories. (8)
1. Lahr, John. "David Rabe's America," The New Yorker, November 24, 2008, Online: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2008/11/24/081124crbo_books_lahr
2. McMahon, Kay and Tigges, John. "David Rabe," from They Came From Dubuque by John Tigges, Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, p. 119
3. Hogstrom, Erik, "Leading Lights of State and Screen-David Rabe," The Arts in the Tri-States, Telegraph Herald, May 23, 2019, p. 8
4. "David Rabe," Biography-IMDb. Online: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0704792/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
5. David William Rabe," Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Online: http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Rabe__David.html
7. David Rabe-Filmography, Fandango. Online: http://www.fandango.com/davidrabe/filmography/p107329
8. "David Rabe," Encyclopedia Britannica, Online: https://www.britannica.com/biography/David-Rabe