Clifford OdetsClifford Odets, a master of social drama, came from an Eastern European, Jewish immigrant background. Raised in New York City, he became one of the original acting members of the Group Theater directed by Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, and Cheryl Crawford, which was committed to producing only native American dramas.
Odets's best-known play was Waiting for Lefty (1935), an experimental one-act drama that fervently advocated labor unionism. His Awake and Sing! , a nostalgic family drama, became another popular success, followed by Golden Boy , the story of an Italian immigrant youth who ruins his musical talent (he is a violinist) when he is seduced by the lure of money to become a boxer and injures his hands. Like Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Dreiser's An American Tragedy , the play warns against excessive ambition and materialism.