The American Clock


Writers: Arthur Miller


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Contemporary, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
america, 1930s
Cast Size
Ideal for
Ensemble Cast, High School, Large Cast, Regional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, mature adult, elderly, young adult characters


The American Clock premiered in 1980 and is set during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is loosely based on Studs Terkel’s Hard Times; An Oral History of the Great Depression. The plot centers around the Baum family, who have lost everything in the financial crash and have been forced to move from Manhattan to a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Moe Baum has declared himself bankrupt and his wife, Rose, struggles with their newfound poverty and weak social status. Their son, Lee, narrates the story, along with Arthur Robertson, a savvy businessman who survived the crash but witnessed the majority of his contemporaries fall around him. As the timeframe jumps back and forth, a large ensemble cast make up the characters who drift in and out of Lee & Arthur Robertson’s lives. Some have survived the crash but most have been wiped out by depression and are struggling to find a way forward. Miller’s thought-provoking drama depicts a hard period in America’s history that forged the way for the social change that was so desperately needed.

Lead Characters

The American Clock guide sections