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Paul Green's The House of Connelly & Johnny johnson,
Erwin Piscator's case of clyde griffiths
Foreword by Judith Malina and William Ivey long and Essays by Marsha Warren, Margaret Bauer, & Tim Carter
The Group Theatre's first play, THE HOUSE OF CONNELLY, Paul Green's poetic tale of the dueling South, past and present, was heralded by critics and audiences alike when it debuted in 1931. Will Connelly, the wayward heir to the once famous Connelly estate falls for the tenant farmer's daughter. Does she love him or is she just after the family name? This epic tale of past versus the future and family secrets is as timely now as it was 80 years ago! Following in the steps of his Pulitzer Prize winning In Abraham's Bosom, this is another example of Green's groundbreaking writing which gave African-Americans legitimate leading roles in a Broadway show - typical of his legendary social awareness.
JOHNNY JOHNSON, Green's 2nd play for the Group, is a shockingly potent comedy that shows us the folly of blind patriotism and war. Johnny, championed as an artist who celebrates peace, gets swept into the war, and finds a way to solve it - through conversation. He is considered a traitor and a mental patient for wanting to solve the war without killing. Presented as a staged reading directed by Estelle Parsons in 2011, the show still packs a wallop. You will laugh, you will cry; you will never forget Johnny.
The first time ever in print - Erwin Piscator's CASE OF CLYDE GRIFFITHS retells the popular true story depicted in Theodore Dreiser's best selling novel An American Tragedy (and later basis of the Elizabeth Taylor/Monty Clift classic film A Place in the Sun). Not only does Piscator tell the story, he focuses on the sociological ramifications of the tale. This is the closest the Group ever came to producing an abstract play. Presented a year before Thornton Wilder's Our Town,due to the tremendous similarities in storytelling, it's hard to imagine Wilder wasn't heavily influenced by Piscator's unique way of theatrical technique.
Robert ARdrey's Thunder Rock & Casey JoneS,
Nellise Childs' Weep For the virgins
Foreword by WENDY SMITH and Essays by Daniel Ardrey, Frank redfield & Allie Mulholland
John howard lawson's Success Story & gentlewoman,
Claire & PAul sifton's 1931-
Foreword by Estelle Parsons and Essays by George Bartenieff, Jeff lawson & Allie Mulholland
1931- was the Group's second prodUCTion, and though tremendously received by the mezzanine crowd, it was dismissed by critics and shortly closed. It would become one of the Group's biggest commercial failures, though after a public reading in 2010, the ReGroup believes it is more resonate now than it was 80 yrs ago. 1931- is the story of a young man, Adam, who loses his job early in the play and is confidant that a man of his ability can quickly find a new job. As adept as he may be, there is no guarantee of employment, and we watch as Adam slowly succumbs to his environment until he is left with one choice...
John Howard Lawson, who will hopefully reclaim his spot on the list of top 10 American playwrights, was the first playwright to contribute two plays for The Group Theatre. He was a role model for Clifford Odets, and his writing style is clearly evident when reading the great works of Odets. The first of Lawson's Group play was Success Story in 1932. It is a tale of an up-and-coming advertising associate Solomon Ginsberg, during and after the stock market crash. A clear predecessor to Odets'Golden Boy and even the television series Mad Men, the play questions exactly what qualifies 'success'. It would run 121 performances and be turned into a filmed titled Success at Any Price starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
His second Group play, Gentlewoman opened on Broadway only two days after his play The Pure in Heart. Though it would only last a few weeks, it became an important play in American Theatre History. Gentlewoman is concerned with socialite, Mrs. Gwyn Ballantine, who falls for the "inspired Bohemian" Rudy Flannigan. When Mrs. Ballantine finds out that her husband is guilty of Bernie Madoff type business deals, she is tempted to pursue her desires for the younger poet. Though she finally has met her ideal mate, can she give up her sophisticated lifestyle in exchange for love? The play has historical significance as Stella Adler, who originated the role of Gwyn, became so disillusioned with acting due to her frustration with the role; she sought out the help of legendary teacher Konstantin Stanislavsky. Through her studies with him, Ms. Adler brought her own interpretation of his method back to the United States, and it deeply divided the Group Theatre. Eventually, it would lead to her parting from the Group and forming her own very successful school.
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