Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication


This study documents, describes, examines, and orders Paul Shyre's contribution to the field of oral performance of literature. The study sets as parameters the professional presentation of non-dramatic literature, that is, literature not written for dramatic performance. Shyre's contribution includes fourteen adaptations of this type. During the period from 1954-1966 Shyre adapted the works of Edgar Allen Poe into a performance entitle The Theatre of Mr. Poe, followed by two adaptations based on the autobiographical novels of Sean O'Casey, I Knock at the Door and Pictures in the Hallway. After adaptations of compiled scripts, I Hear America Singing and U.S.A., a collaboration with John Dos Passos, Shyre returned to a third adaptation from the works of O'Casey, Drums Under the Windows. Yeats and Company and A Whitman Portrait were adaptations Shyre was commissioned to do at the close of this period. All of the early presentations fall into the class of things we often call "group performances" of non-dramatic literature. The second period from 1967-1981 begins with Shrye's most successful one-person show, Will Rogers' U.S.A., followed by a compiled script entitled The President is Dead, based on the Lincoln assassination. Another compiled script, New York, New York, was taken from poetry, prose, and musical lyrics based on the theme of New York City. The next two adaptations, Paris Was Yesterday and An Unpleasant Evening with H. L. Mencken, were one-person shows adapted from writings of journalists Janet Flanner and H. L. Mencken, respectively. Ah, Men, a compiled script based on writings of numerous men, closes out this period. These fourteen adaptations comprise the largest individual contribution to the professional performance of non-dramatic literature during the period 1966-1981.