I Am A Camera

Full-Length Play, Drama  /  4w, 3m

By John Van Druten
Adapted from The Berlin Stories of Christopher Isherwood

This subtle and rewarding drama received the Critics' Circle Award in 1952. “Mr. van Druten has made a striking, intelligent and steadily arresting play…A both uproarious and poignant dramatization.” — NY Post.

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    4w, 3m
  • Duration
    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Adaptations (Stage & Screen), Period
  • Suggested Use
    • Monologues
    • Scene work
    • Competition or audition material
  • Audience
    Target Audience
  • Winner! 1952 Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play


In the words of the Herald-Tribune, the play "looks at life in a tawdry Berlin rooming house of 1930 with a stringently photographic eye. For the most part, it concerns itself with the mercurial and irresponsible moods of a girl called Sally Bowles. When we first meet her, she is a creature of extravagant attitudes, given to parading her vices, enormously confident that she is going to take life in her stride. She is fond of describing herself as an 'extraordinary interesting person,' and she is vaguely disturbing. As we get to know her, as we watch her make frightened arrangements for an illegal operation, seize at the tinseled escape offered by a rich and worthless American playboy, attempt to rehabilitate herself and fail ludicrously, we are more and more moved, more and more caught up in the complete and almost unbearable reality of this girl. [The author has] placed a character named Mr. Isherwood on the stage…He serves both as narrator and as principal confidant to Sally Bowles. He is the camera eye of the title, attracted to Sally, yet dispassionate about her." Though Sally is the chief point of interest, the plight of the Jew in Germany in the early thirties is brought within focus in a few touching scenes.
I Am a Camera opened on Broadway at the Empire Theatre in November 1951, under the direction of its playwright John Van Druten, with scenic and lighting design by Boris Aronson and Ellen Goldsborough. It ran for 214 performances before closing in July 1952. The production was a critically acclaimed success, particularly for the Tony Award-winning performance of actress Julie Harris as Sally Bowles.
Christopher Isherwood
Fraulein Schneider
Fritz Wendel
Sally Bowles
Natalia Landauer
Clive Mortimer
Mrs. Watson-Courtneidge
  • Time Period 1940s / WWII, 1930s
  • Setting An apartment in Berlin in the 1930s.
  • Additional Features Physical Comedy
  • Duration 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Cautions
    • Alcohol
    • Mild Adult Themes


“The play crackles with electricity.” — The New York Times

“With a genuine sense of deliberate objectivity...record[s] the mood of some aspects of Berlin life at the beginning of a period that eventually wrecked the world.” — The New York Times

“Many seem to forget this wonderful poignant play.” — A Younger Theatre

“Harum-scarum freneticism is embodied in the character of night club singer Sally Bowles, Isherwood's great semi-fictional invention.” — WhatsOnStage

Licensing & Materials

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John Van Druten

John William Van Druten (June 1, 1901 – December 19, 1957) was an English playwright and theatre director. He began his career in London, and later moved to America, becoming a U.S. citizen. He was known for his plays of witty and urbane observations of contemporary life and ...
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