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Broadway poster by Paul Davis
Written byDavid Rabe
Sgt. Rooney
Clark, M.P.
Hinson, M.P.
M.P. Officer
Sgt. Cokes
Date premieredApril 21, 1976
Place premieredMitzi E. Newhouse Theater
Original languageEnglish
Settinga Virginia army base

Streamers is a play by David Rabe.

Plot synopsis

The last in his Vietnam War trilogy that began with The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and Sticks and Bones, [1] it focuses on the interactions and personal conflicts of a group of soldiers preparing to ship out to fight in the Southeast Asian conflict in 1965. Among them are middle class African American Roger, upper class Manhattanite Richie, who is struggling with his sexual orientation, conservative Wisconsin country boy Billy, and fearful loose cannon Carlyle, a streetwise Black man. In charge of their barracks are abrasive alcoholic Sgt. Cokes, who already has served overseas, and aggressive Sgt. Rooney, who is anxious to get into combat.


The title is a reference to parachutes that fail to open.[1] Streamers originally was a one-act play entitled Knives Rabe completed in the late 1960s prior to writing the first two-thirds of his trilogy. While working as a journalist in New Haven, Connecticut, he expanded it into a full-length play. Under the direction of Mike Nichols, it premiered at the Long Wharf Theatre on January 30, 1976.[2] The cast included Herbert Jefferson, Jr. as Roger, Peter Evans as Richie, John Heard as Billy, Joe Fields as Carlyle, Dolph Sweet as Cokes, and Kenneth McMillan as Rooney.[3]


Streamers premiered at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut in 1976. The play transferred to the Off-Broadway Lincoln Center Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater opening on April 21, 1976, and closing on June 5, 1977 after 478 performances. The cast included Terry Alexander as Roger, Paul Rudd as Billy and Dorian Harewood as Carlyle, with Evans, Sweet, and McMillian reprising their Long Wharf roles.[4] Later in the run Mark Metcalf replaced Rudd as Billy.


Streamers was revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company. The play opened at the Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre on October 17, 2008 in previews, officially on November 11, in a limited engagement to January 11, 2009.[5] This production was based on the one presented by the Huntington Theatre in 2007.[1][6][7]

It was directed by Scott Ellis. The cast included J.D. Williams as Roger, Hale Appleman as Richie, Brad Fleischer as Billy, Atoh Essandoh as Carlyle, Larry Clarke as Sgt. Cokes, and John Sharian as Sgt. Rooney.[5]

Awards and nominations

Source: Playbill Vault[8]


Film adaptation

Main article: Streamers (film)

In 1983, Rabe adapted his play for a feature film directed by Robert Altman and produced by Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau (The Thin Red Line). The cast included David Alan Grier as Roger, Mitchell Lichtenstein as Richie, Matthew Modine as Billy, Michael Wright as Carlyle, George Dzundza as Cokes, and Guy Boyd as Rooney. The movie was awarded a Golden Lion for its entire ensemble cast at the Venice Film Festival. The film was released on DVD via Shout! Factory in January, 2010.


  1. ^ a b c Saltzman, Simon. "Review. Streamers ",, November 6, 2008
  2. ^ " Streamers Long Wharf",, accessed May 14, 2015
  3. ^ Rabe, David. Streamers, Streamers:A Drama in Two Acts, Samuel French, Inc., 1977, ISBN 057364019X, pp. 3-4.
  4. ^ Streamers,, accessed May 14, 2015
  5. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. " 'Streamers', Rabe's Vietnam Play About Soldiers in Turmoil, Begins in NYC Oct. 17",, October 17, 2008
  6. ^ " Streamer at Huntington Theatre" Archived 2015-04-18 at the Wayback Machine,, accessed May 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Cast Set for Scott Ellis Staging of David Rabe's 'Streamers' at Huntington",, October 11, 2007.
  8. ^ Streamers,, accessed May 14, 2015