john guare
John Guare


Spring 2009

“I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people.  Six degrees of separation.  Between us and everybody else on this planet.  The President of the United States.  A gondolier in Venice. . . . It’s not just big names.  It’s anyone.  A native in a rain forest.  A Tierra del Fuegan.  An Eskimo.  I am bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people.  It’s a profound thought.”

 Ouisa, in John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation (p. 45)


Welcome to the website of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the-Semester Project. This semester, we will read John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation.  The message communicated in the play, that we are all connected to each other in some way, gives us all the opportunity to consider our great potential as human beings.  Although the immediate source of inspiration for his main character, Paul Poitier, was David Hampton, the real-life confidence man who lied to many people about his identity and stole money from them, John Guare wrote a drama that makes us realize not only what can be unsettling about our behavior towards one another but also how we can transcend the most regrettable circumstances and become responsible for one another.  If this outcome were not true, the play would not have had so much appeal since it was first produced on the stage of the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in 1990 and celebrities like actor Kevin Bacon, whose six-degrees-of-separation game encourages people to make charitable contributions to philanthropic causes, would not have sought to make the catchy six-degrees-of-separation phrase and concept their own.

As you read the play and participate in the many activities that have been planned to make the reading experience as rewarding as possible for you, you will become more and more aware of the playwright’s clever juxtaposition of extremes.  For example, painted on the canvas of the rich and elegant New York art world are visions of poverty-stricken Apartheid-ruled South Africa; embedded in the portrayal of the opulent Upper East Side lifestyle are constant reminders of people struggling to make ends meet; within a dialogue that seeks reverence for the truth, lying to oneself and others is rampant.  That inevitably in the course of this reading journey you will be forced to grapple with issues dealing with your own identity and value system is all too clear.

For guidance in reading the play, go to Study Guide.”

To participate in an on-line conversation forum with students, faculty, and staff members, go to Discussion Board.”

For articles and interviews that may prove to be worthy “supplements” to the reading of the play, go to “Resources.”

To see the schedule of activities, go to Calendar of Events.”