Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare
Improvisation 28 (second version), 1912, by Vasily Kandinsky
--based on the true story of a confidence man who bluffed his way into Manhattan high society by claiming to be the son of a famous actor.
Other works by Guare include Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971), Rich and Famous (1974), The Landscape of the Body (1977), Bosoms and Neglect (1979), and Six Degrees of Separation (1990) which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, and an Olivier Best Play Award. (Source: Theatre Database)
A review from Daily Info, Oxford on a recent production of the play.
A review from the Brothers Judd..
In the 1950's, Ithiel de Sola Pool) and Manfred Kochen IBM) set out to prove the theory mathematically. Although they were able to phrase the question (given a set N of people, what is the probability that each member of N is connected to another member via k1, k2, k3...kn links?), after twenty years they were still unable to solve the problem to their own satisfaction.
In 1967, American sociologist Stanley Milgram (see Small world phenomenon) devised a new way to test the theory, which he called "the small-world problem." He randomly selected people in the American Midwest to send packages to a stranger located in Massachusetts, several thousand miles away. The senders knew the recipient's name, occupation, and general location. They were instructed to send the package to a person they knew on a first-name basis who they thought was most likely, out of all their friends, to know the target personally. That person would do the same, and so on, until the package was personally delivered to its target recipient.
Although the participants expected the chain to include at least a hundred intermediaries, it only took (on average) between five and seven intermediaries to get each package delivered. Milgram's findings were published in Psychology Today and inspired the phrase six degrees of separation. Playwright John Guare popularized the phrase when he chose it as the title for his 1990 play. Although Milgram's findings were discounted after it was discovered that he based his conclusion on a very small number of packages, six degrees of separation became an accepted notion in pop culture after Brett C. Tjaden published a computer game on the University of Virginia's Web site based on the small-world problem. Tjaden used the Internet Movie Database to document connections between different actors. Time Magazine called his site, The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia , one of the "Ten Best Web Sites of 1996."
Theory explanation announced by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
(1993) screenplay by the playwright John Guare; directed by Fred Schepisi
|Stockard Channing||....||Ouisa Kittredge|
|Donald Sutherland||....||John Flanders ('Flan') Kittredge|
|Ian McKellen||....||Geoffrey Miller|
|Mary Beth Hurt||....||Kitty|
|Richard Masur||....||Dr. Fine|
|Anthony Michael Hall||....||Trent Conway|
A review of the film in the Washington Post