McTeague: A Tale of San Francisco

Neal Bell, adapted from the novel by Frank Norris

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Neal Bell’s adaptation of Frank Norris’s novel tells the story of a couple’s courtship and marriage, and their subsequent descent into poverty, violence, and finally murder as the result of jealousy and greed.

Production Info

Cast: 9 total (4 female, 5 male)
Full Length Drama (about 150 minutes)
Multiple Sets
Period Costumes
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Press Quotes

“Frank Norris’s novel McTeague is a panorama of the US at the turn of the century: cowboys, gold mines, the immigrant experience, the advent of electricity and the movies. At the core is a gruesome cautionary tale, aptly retitled Greed by Erich Von Stroheim when he made a nine-hour film of it in 1923 … In adapting it anew … Neal Bell’s script [tells] a story of downward mobility, about a miner turned dentist (sans diploma) who winds up defrocked and doomed in an abandoned mine.” —William A Henry III, Time

“Bell weaves a thick, dark tapestry of themes from MCTEAGUE’s epic of incidents. Socially, the focus is on the helplessness of a rough simpleton in a rapidly urbanizing and professionalizing America — and on the determination of immigrants and bootstrap-tuggers to cling to the middle class rather than fall into the Victorian abyss of want. Psychologically, it’s on the metamorphosis of McTeague’s innocent ignorance into murderous rage — and Trina’s sensible shift into masochistic self-denial. Morally, it’s on the life-choking consequences of treating money as an end in itself rather than a means toward fulfilling human needs. Each of these levels resonates through the adaptation’s writing.” —Scott Rosenberg, San Francisco Examiner

About the Author


  • Neal Bell

    Neal Bell's plays, including SPATTER PATTERN (Edgar Award), MONSTER, TWO SMALL BODIES, RAW YOUTH, COLD SWEAT, READY FOR THE RIVER, SLEEPING DOGS, RAGGED DICK, ON THE BUM, and SOMEWHERE IN THE PACIFIC, have appeared at Playwrights Horizons and Classic Stage Company in New York, and at regional theaters including Berkeley Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, and Actors Theater of Louisville, where his ten-minute play OUT THE WINDOW was a co-winner of the 1990 Heideman Award. Mr. Bell has been a playwright-in-residence at the Yale School of Drama, and has taught playwriting at New York University, Playwrights Horizons Theater School, and the 42nd Street Collective. He is currently a member of the Theater Department faculty at Duke University. A recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment and the Guggenheim Foundation, Mr. Bell was awarded an Obie Award in 1992 for sustained achievement in playwriting.

  • Frank Norris

    Frank Norris (1870-1902) was an author whose major works include McTeague (1899), The Octopus (1901), and The Pit (1903). Norris was born in Chicago but moved west with his family and attended the University of California in 1890. Intent on a literary career, he accepted a job with the San Francisco Chronicle in 1895 and traveled to South Africa to cover the Boer War. As a novelist, Norris explored the impact of emerging economic forces on the individual. He was among a group of turn-of-the-century writers who rebelled against the "overcivilized" conditions of late-nineteenth-century America and the "feminized" literature that these conditions produced. In his works, the harsher realities of "real life" are exposed and often celebrated as sources of insight into the more authentic and vital character of human existence.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 3/26/2017
Pages 140
ISBN 9780881457063

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by Berkeley Repertory Theater, CA

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
McTeague: A Tale of San Francisco is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC