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The Group Theater Discussion with Harold Clurman, Bobby Lewis, Lee Strasberg

Year: 1967, 28 mins
Code: CAT-Grou

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Three distinguished theater producer-directors recapture the heady days of the famous Group Theater and discuss its origins, successes, failures, and eventual decline. Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg and Bobby Lewis - all actively involved in American theater production, as well as criticism and history - were among the young pioneers who gave life to one of the country's great experiments in the theater during the 1930s. Clurman and Strasberg, with Cheryl Crawford, were the Group's original founders. Many photographs from the period recall their efforts and collaborators, which included Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, Clifford Odets, Franchot Tone and John Garfield.

The Group Theater was active from 1931 to 1940. It came in with the Depression and went out with the World War. It was intended as a forum for plays that would make a political difference in a world that seemed to be sliding backwards. It was intended as a new start in the choosing, casting and presentation of plays. It was a way of exploring acting techniques and of forging a cohesive group of talent that would work together and stay together. And it was intended to be socially conscious and have an effect on American society. To some extent it achieved all these aims. But as Mr. Clurman points out at the end of this vital discussion, its also labored against itself by not having a thoroughly thought out program and the finances to keep it going.

Among the Group Theater's most memorable successes were "Awake and Sing" (1935), "Waiting for Lefty" (1935), "Johnny Johnson" (1936), "Golden Boy" (1937), and "My Heart's in the Highlands" (1937). The Group Theater was the first to present the work of Clifford Odets and Marc Blitzstein. Mr. Clurman has written about The Group Theater in his book "The Fervent Years."

Harold Edgar Clurman was an American theatre director and drama critic, "one of the most influential in the United States". He was most notable as one of the three founders of New York City's Group Theatre.

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