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“The Mint Theater Company, one of New York’s most admired Off-Broadway troupes, specializes in neglected plays that have slipped through the cracks. More often than not it comes up with gems, among the most notable of which was Rachel Crothers’s SUSAN AND GOD, first seen in 1937 and revived by the Mint to impressive effect in 2006. Now the company has gone back to the same well with an equally strong staging of another Crothers play, A LITTLE JOURNEY, which hasn’t been performed professionally in New York since it closed on Broadway in 1919—and guess what? It’s just as good.”1
Rachel Crothers (1878-1958) was among America’s most successful and produced playwrights during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Nearly 30 of her plays opened on Broadway between 1906 and 1937. “Although it rare now to find anyone who has heard of her,” wrote the New York Times in 1980, “Miss Crothers at the apex of her career was a symbol of success in the commercial theater.”
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.
After launching the Teresa Deevy Project with WIFE TO JAMES WHELAN in 2010, the Mint continued its exploration of “one of the most undeservedly neglected and significant playwrights of the 20th century” (The Irish Times) with a production of TEMPORAL POWERS.
Teresa Deevy was born in 1894, the youngest of thirteen children. Intent on a teaching career, Teresa enrolled in the University College, Dublin in 1913. After about a year she began to feel ill; her ears rang and she suffered frequent bouts of vertigo. She was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, an incurable condition caused by fluid imbalance in the inner ear. Within a few years, Deevy had completely lost her hearing.
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.”
“For anyone who cares about continuity in theater history, who wants to see connections between playwrights over centuries, the Mint Theater Company is heroic…For example, J.B. Priestley’s 1957 family drama THE GLASS CAGE is arguably the missing link between Ibsen’s bourgeois tragedies and the moody domestic-subversion shockers of Joe Orton and Harold Pinter,”1 writes David Cote In Time Out New York.
Priestley was born in the North England industrial town of Bradford. In his teens, he quit school to become a clerk in the wool trade. Already an ardent Socialist, he wrote articles for a political journal, The Bradford Pioneer, in his spare time. He left these jobs to enlist in the army at the outbreak of World War I. He was wounded at the front in France, recovered, and was then sent back to the front. After mustard gas poisoning rendered him unfit for further battle, he was made an arranger of troupe “entertainments,” giving him early experience as a theatrical producer.
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.
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