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“One might wonder how a story that takes place in a Hungarian haberdashery could possibly suit a 21st-century American audience, but the Mint’s production fits like a glove,”1 hailed TheaterMania of FASHIONS FOR MEN. A delightful comedy of character by Ferenc Molnár, FASHIONS tells the story of shop owner Peter Juhász, a saintly beacon of decency who only sees the good in everyone—making him easy prey for the sinners who surround him.
In the first half of the twentieth century, the Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár rose to international acclaim with his cosmopolitan fairy tales for adults. Molnár’s plays inventively blended romantic fantasy and sardonic wit; pointed social satire and polished theatricality. Best known today for the mystical folk play Liliom (1922; the basis of the classic musical Carousel) Molnár was immensely prolific as a journalist, short story writer, novelist, and the author of forty-two plays, many of which were performed widely throughout Europe and America.
LONDON WALL premiered in 1931 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, one of five plays by John Van Druten that enjoyed success in London in the early 30’s. The play was acclaimed for its deftly etched characters and richly detailed atmosphere, yet it languished in obscurity until London’s Finborough Theater successfully revived it in 2013. One year later our warmly-received production marked the play’s American premiere.
Best known today for such midcentury Broadway hits as Old Acquaintance, The Voice of the Turtle, I Remember Mama, Bell, Book and Candle, and I Am a Camera (which inspired the classic Broadway musical Cabaret), John Van Druten wrote deftly observed, character-driven plays that ranged from the realistic atmosphere of his early West End plays, to the sentimental charm of his wartime hits, to the daring allurements of his final works.
Mint Theater continued its exhaustive exploration into the work of Teresa Deevy—which began with WIFE TO JAMES WHELAN in 2010 and TEMPORAL POWERS in 2011—with a production of Deevy’s compelling drama, Katie Roche. The play’s mercurial heroine is a servant girl whose romantic ambitions reach for the heavens. “Katie Roche is the third Deevy work to be produced by the Mint in as many years. It may be the best one yet,” 1 wrote David Barbour in Lighting and Sound America.
Teresa Deevy was born in 1894 as the youngest of thirteen children in Waterford, Ireland. Though she intended to teach, Teresa contracted Meniere’s disease while at University College Dublin and lost her hearing. She went to London to study lip-reading and the theater provided her an opportunity to practice—there she discovered her calling.
In 1912, a new play by an unknown author took London by storm. Originally scheduled for only four performances at London’s Royal Court Theatre, RUTHERFORD AND SON by Githa Sowerby quickly transferred to the West End, receiving its New York premiere within the same year.
In 2003, New York audiences were introduced to D. H. Lawrence—the playwright—with a highly acclaimed production of THE DAUGHTER IN LAW. Five years later, Mint Theater returned to the same literary well with a production of Lawrence’s searing 1910 drama, THE WIDOWING OF MRS. HOLROYD
D.H. Lawrence was born in 1885 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. He is best known as the author of Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love and the notorious Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), which was considered to be obscene and was widely banned; Chatterley was not officially legal in England until 1960.
Lawrence is the author of eight full-length plays, none of which he ever saw onstage in his lifetime (including The Daughter-In-Law, produced by The Mint in 2003). Though it seems that he never shook off the black mark of rabid literary censorship, his works remain to this day celebrated studies of human passion and desperation. At the time of his death, much of the public regarded him as a pornographer rather than a literary genius; yet in Lawrence’s obituary notice, E.M. Forster cited him as “the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation.”
Ernest Hemingway wrote THE FIFTH COLUMN in 1937 while he was in Madrid working as a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War. A hot-blooded romance played out against a backdrop of treachery and intrigue during the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway’s first and only play was published a year later.
THE FIFTH COLUMN rings out with a battle-scarred truth as one would expect from Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel and Pulitzer-prize winning author of A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls and a celebrated war correspondent.
In 2007, Mint Theater Company was awarded $100,000 from The Tony Randall Theatrical Fund to support a production of Leo Tolstoy’s dramatic landmark, THE POWER OF DARKNESS. Set in a peasant village in Russia, “Tolstoy’s ruthlessly detailed, coal-black drama”1 is a heartrending and cautionary tale about the consequences of pursuing personal gain while disregarding morality and the dictates of one’s own conscience.
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is one of the most important novelists in Western literature. The breadth of his vision and the range of his accomplishments are immense.
In 2007 THE MADRAS HOUSE was seen by New York audiences for the first time since 1921. The production continued Mint’s work in championing Harley Granville Barker’s neglected drama in the U.S., after producing the American Premiere of THE VOYSEY INHERITANCE, in 1999
It would be hard to exaggerate the seminal role played by the actor, director, playwright and polemicist Harley Granville-Barker (1877-1946) in the development of 20th-century British theatre.
Known mainly for his oft-adapted work La Ronde (or Reigen), FAR AND WIDE (Das weite Land) introduced New York audiences to European playwright Arthur Schnitzler as they had never seen him before. FAR AND WIDE is a complex examination of love and sex among the decadent upper classes of early twentieth century Vienna. It opened simultaneously in nine European cities in 1911 but was never seen in New York until Jonathan Bank’s adaptation premiered at the Mint in 2003.
Arthur Schnitzler (Playwright 1862-1931) was one of the most famous of all of the great personalities in Vienna at the turn of the last century. A prolific author, Schnitzler wrote more than twenty prose works including stories, novellas and novels in addition to over twenty-five plays. From before 1900 until 1925, Schnitzler was more talked about, and his plays were more performed on the stages of Germany and Austria than any other writer. Schnitzler was both a Jew and a critic of the Austrian Monarchy, contributing to the censorship of his work in his lifetime, and by the Nazi’s after his death. His work ultimately suffered the same fate as the Viennese culture that he was describing and vanished into obscurity after Word War I. His best-known play today is probably Reigen a.k.a. La Ronde. This work was the basis for The Blue Room by David Hare, as well as the recently released film Love in the Time of Money. Audiences may also be familiar with Anatol, an early work (1893) consisting of seven scenes variously controversial, censored or banned for immorality. Neither of these plays accurately represents the breadth or depth of Schnitzler’s genius; what Benedict Nightingale describes as his “inquisitive, complex, formidably moral intelligence.”
Among the most prolific and popular writers of his day, S. N. Behrman penned glittering comedies that both celebrated and satirized New York’s smart set, poking fun at their foibles while exposing their self-doubt. Once a Broadway mainstay, Behrman’s plays were largely forgotten until the Mint’s production of NO TIME FOR COMEDY, the play’s first professional production in N.Y. since its 1939 Broadway premiere.
For a man of sophisticated wit, SN Behrman was also a man of humble upbringing. The son of Jewish immigrants, born in 1893 and raised in Worchester, Massachusetts, Behrman studied playwriting at Harvard as a member of George Pierce Baker’s illustrious Workshop 47. His talent for high comedy earned him a reputation as the American Noel Coward, though his work often displayed his deep interest in, and concern for world affairs. In 1929, his wrote his first piece for The New Yorker, where he quickly became a regular, and much beloved, contributor of essays, profiles and memoirs. Behrman also wrote a number of screenplays including Anna Karenina, The Tale of Two Cities and Ninotchka.
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