This Is Our Youth

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This Is Our Youth
Michael Cera (6840267202).jpg
Michael Cera in a March 2012 production staged at the Sydney Opera House
Written byKenneth Lonergan
CharactersDennis, Warren, Jessica
Date premieredOctober 26, 1996 (1996-10-26)
Place premieredIntar Theatre, New York City

This Is Our Youth is a play by American dramatist and screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan. It premiered Off-Broadway in 1996 and since been produced all over the world, including the West End, Broadway and Sydney.


A portable television and comic books are props on the floor of a set from This Is Our Youth at Sydney Opera House

The play takes place in Dennis Ziegler's family's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in March 1982.

Dennis's friend Warren Straub, a dejected 19-year-old, has just been kicked out of his house and stolen $15,000 from his abusive lingerie tycoon father. Dennis, the more wily and domineering of the two, spends some of the money on cocaine, hoping to sell it to a friend for much more. Jessica Goldman, an "anxiously insightful" fashion student, arrives, and Warren hopes that he can use the money to entice her into bed.

The play explores timeless issues of adolescence and maturity, as well as the Reagan Era in which it is set: the characters feel adrift in 1980s-style materialism.

Production history[edit]

This Is Our Youth premiered as a one-act titled Betrayal by Everyone in 1993 at the Met in a festival of short plays.[1]

Originally produced by The New Group, the play opened Off-Broadway at the Intar Theatre on October 26, 1996 and closed on November 24, 1996 after 22 performances. Directed by Mark Brokaw, the cast featured Josh Hamilton as Dennis, Mark Ruffalo as Warren, and Missy Yager as Jessica.[2] It again played Off-Broadway in a Second Stage revival at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, from November 3, 1998 to May 2, 1999, with the original cast, except for Mark Rosenthal as Dennis.[3] It transferred to the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.

The US West Coast premier took place in October, 2000 at the B Street Theater in Sacramento, California, produced by co-founding brothers Buck and Timothy Busfield. The play starred Peter Humer, Andrew Benator and Jessica Goldman and was directed by Amy Resnick.[4]

In the West End, it played at the Garrick Theatre from 2 March 2002 to 15 March 2003. The opening cast was Jake Gyllenhaal, Hayden Christensen, and Anna Paquin.[5] Notable replacements included Matt Damon, Casey Affleck and Kieran Culkin. The production was produced by Phil Cameron for Background, Clare Lawrence and Anna Waterhouse for Out of the Blue (for and on behalf of Back to Blue Limited).

A non-equity production directed by Serge Seiden was presented by Studio Theatre 2ndStage in Washington, DC from May 16 to June 30, 2002. The cast included Karl Miller, Jon Bernthal, and Amy Montminy.[6]

The Australian premiere was produced by Black Swan Theatre Company and Echelon Productions at The Store Room, Melbourne in 2002. It starred Ditch Davey, Tim Wright and Amanda Levy.

In 2003, Woody Harrelson directed a production of This Is Our Youth for the Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with Fabrizio Filippo, Marya Delver and Marcello Cabezas in the cast.[7]

The play premiered on Broadway at the Cort Theatre in previews beginning August 18, 2014 and opening September 11, 2014 for a 20-week run (through January 4, 2015). Directed by Anna D. Shapiro and produced by Steppenwolf, the cast starred Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson.[8][9] Prior to Broadway, this production ran at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, with the same director and cast, from June 10 to July 27, 2014.[10] Also prior to Broadway, Cera and Culkin, who co-starred in 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, had been in talks to stage a revival in New York during 2010;[11] they later headlined a run at the Sydney Opera House in March 2012.[12]


Note: Below are the principal casts of major productions[13].

Role Off-Broadway West End Broadway/

Sydney Opera House

02/03/02 to 20/04/02 25/04/02 to 15/06/02 13/11/02 to 11/01/03 16/01/03 to 15/03/03
Warren Mark Ruffalo Jake Gyllenhaal Casey Affleck Kieran Culkin Freddie Prinze Jr Michael Cera
Dennis Josh Hamilton Hayden Christensen Matt Damon Colin Hanks Chris Klein Kieran Culkin
Jessica Missy Yager Anna Paquin Summer Phoenix Alison Lohman Heather Burns Tavi Gevinson


Writing in The New York Times, critic Peter Marks called the play (in 1996) "a revealing and offbeat dissection of its world," adding, "It is not easy to find love and humor in the middle of nowhere. But with the skill of a first-rate creative team, even nowhere can be someplace special."[2] Reviewing the 1998 production two years later, Marks wrote, "'This Is Our Youth' is back, and not a moment too soon. In a season in which some of the wise men of the theater have been trying to force-feed insipid fare like 'Stupid Kids' and 'Footloose' to young audiences, it's sheer relief to celebrate the return of a rambunctious and witty play about wayward teen-agers and post-adolescents that doesn't turn youthful travails into plastic rap." Marks cited the play's "indelible impression," the playwright's "unfailing antennae," writing, "'This Is Our Youth'-- by turns caustic, cruel and compassionate -- is the real real world."[14] This Is Our Youth ranked 21st in Andy Propst's list of the greatest plays ever written[15] and 12th in the 2018 New York Times critics' list of the best American plays of the past 25 years.[16]


  1. ^ "This Is Our Youth Study Guide - Introduction - Kenneth Lonergan". Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  2. ^ a b Marks, Peter (October 31, 1996). "Heading for Hopeless, but Not Gone Yet". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "This is Our Youth" Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed September 11, 2014.
  4. ^ "Youth culture - Theater Reviews - Arts&Culture". Sacramento News & Review. October 5, 2000. Retrieved 11 June 2018 – via
  5. ^ "'This Is Our Youth' to Play London with Paquin". January 28, 2002. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  6. ^ Horwitz, Jane (2002-06-04). "Studio's Double Load Of Kenneth Lonergan". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  7. ^ Ouzounian, Richard (September 15, 2003). "A supercharged stage trio; Three Toronto actors team up to star in This Is Our Youth Director Woody Harrelson helps add Hollywood sizzle". Toronto Star.
  8. ^ "This is Our Youth: Overview". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 July 2014 – via
  9. ^ Hetrick, Adam (September 11, 2014). "'This Is Our Youth', With Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson, Opens on Broadway Tonight".
  10. ^ "Listing". Steppenwolf Theatre. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  11. ^ headgeek. "Capone tangles with SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD star Michael Cera and director Edgar Wright!!!". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  12. ^ Cummings, Pip (25 February 2012). "Interview: Michael Cera". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  13. ^ "This is Our Youth in London, stage play by Kenneth Lonergan starring Chris Klein, Freddie Prinze Jr and Heather Burns - theatre information and tickets". Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  14. ^ Peter Marks, "Folkways of Spoiled, Dissolute West Side Teen-Agers," The New York Times, November 4, 1998.
  15. ^ "50 Best Plays of All Time: Comedies, Tragedies and Dramas Ranked". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  16. ^ "The Great Work Continues: The 25 Best American Plays Since 'Angels in America'". The New York Times. 2018-05-31. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-17.

External links[edit]