June 28, 2008

I'm Going To Be A Star

I'm having trouble thinking of original ideas at present. You may or may not have heard that Quincy is in critical condition down at the vet hospital and we're really not sure what's going on. He's had his blood tested and he's had IVs and pills shoved and everything else. Hopefully his prospectus has improved since last night because I'm still really worried.

In light of my lack of creativity, I felt I should still write something (since I started this blog pre-pet emergency, and was therefore not prepared for the whirlwind of puppy-lackluster emotions that followed) so here is a fun story I found on Sheila's site:

A funny story about Katherine Hepburn:

It was the 1930s. A new theatre group was being formed, a group who wanted to bring relevant plays to Broadway, plays which spoke to the angst of the time. In the 1930s, the majority of material on Broadway was fluffy high-brow comedies, the foibles of the upper-class. So, a "group" got together, headed by Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, and Cheryl Crawford, and they wanted to change all that.

The theatre which evolved out of that, the Group Theatre, only lasted a decade. But the Group is one of the most influential things to have ever happened in American theatre. Its influence cannot be over-stated. First of all, the Group Theatre gave us Clifford Odets' plays. The Group Theatre was where Elia Kazan, who went on to direct the most influential and loved films of the 20th century, first got his training. Out of the Group Theatre eventually came the most influential acting teachers of the last century: Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Bobby Lewis, Morris Carnovsky ...

The Group died because of in-fighting, and financial problems. Out of the ashes of the Group Theatre the Actors Studio was created by Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan, and obviously: the Actors Studio is directly responsible (in my view) for the elevation of film acting to an actual art form. The technique taught there created the kind of film acting which we all now take for granted. Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Ellen Burstyn, James Dean, Montgomery Clift ... all of these people came out of the Actors Studio.

But back to the Group Theatre: they were a bunch of successful people, in the middle of the Depression, who started holding meetings about how to revive the theatre, how to work as an ensemble, how to model themselves after the Moscow Art Theatre, how to be a group in a capitalist society which did not support such endeavors. Harold Clurman invited the big-wigs of the New York theatre scene to come join them, to come sit in on the meetings, to see if they would want to be a part of such an exciting and new project.

Katherine Hepburn, a 20-something Broadway actress at the time, not yet world-famous, "Philadelphia Story" still in her future, was invited to come to some of these meetings. She came. She sat. She listened. In the middle of the meeting, this young unknown actress got up and started to walk out. Harold Clurman stopped her. "Where are you going? What's going on?"

Hepburn replied, "This is all very well for you people. But I'm going to be a star, you see."

The purist Group people were horrified at this. But who has the last laugh now?

1 comment:

InsaneIdiot said...

Holy crap...I didn't know Quincy was at the vet. I hope he gets better. Keep me up to date about that.

Nice to see you on blogger now.