Struck Dumb

van Itallie, Jean-ClaudeChaikin, Joseph

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Jul-03-1998
  • Last revised: Dec-29-2009


Struck Dumb is a collaboratively written play based on the firsthand experience of stroke by one of the authors, Joe Chaikin. Chaikin, when about 50 years old, suffered a stroke during an operation for a faulty heart valve, which left him aphasic. Co-author van Italie, stated that this play "is a theatrical metaphor for the aphasic character's mind: his written thoughts literally come flying in at him from all sides of stage in full view of the audience." In this way an actor who is aphasic and can read, can play the role.

The main character, Adnan, is a "50ish" Arab-American living in Venice, California who has suffered a stroke. The "scenes" in the play revolve around a day in the life of Adnan beginning with "waking up," ending with "sunset," and in between with "practicing words," "my house," "the mall," and other everyday, yet extraordinary, concerns.


Prior to his stroke, Joseph Chaikin had won awards for acting and directing. An audiotape of Struck Dumb and of The War in Heaven (which Chaikin co-wrote with Sam Shepard), performed by Chaikin, is available from Raven Recording, P.O. Box 2034, Red Bank, NJ 07701.


Kaleidoscope Press is located at United Disabilities Services.

Primary Source

Kaleidoscope (Summer/Fall 1989, Issue No.19) pp.10-18



Place Published

Akron, Ohio