“The key character in WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS is a driven media tycoon who reaches millions via dozens of publications. Through them, he seeks to entertain the many and influence the mighty. Not much has changed since Arnold Bennett wrote this in 1909. Now the play has been rescued from oblivion by the Mint Theater in a compelling, well-acted production. “1

Having begun his own literary career as a journalist, Arnold Bennett’s sly take on tabloid journalism was first produced in 1909 by The Stage Society in London and was promptly transferred to the West End. It was first seen in the U.S. in 1913, when the Manchester Repertory Company toured Boston and Chicago. In 1922 the Theatre Guild produced the New York premiere.

Having been revived multiple times in England, Mint Theater finally re-introduced the play to New York audiences after an absence of nearly eighty years. The Associated Press hailed WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS as “a witty, well-acted production; director Matthew Arbour is faithful to the original material, which is clever and surprisingly contemporary more than a hundred years after Bennett wrote it.”2

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CAST

  • Sir Charles Worgan Rob Breckenridge
  • Francis Worgan Marc Vietor
  • Saul Kendrick, John Worgan Douglas Rees
  • Simon MacQuoid, Holt St. John, James Bridnley Jeremy Lawrence
  • Emily Vernon Ellen Adair
  • Henrietta Blackwood, Annie Worgan Brigit Huppuch
  • Mrs. Worgan Laurie Kennedy
  • Mrs. Downes Mary Baird

CREATIVES

  • Set Design Roger Hanna
  • Costume Design Erin Murphy
  • Lighting Design Marcus Doshi
  • Sound Design Daniel Kluger
  • Properties Design Deb Gaouette
  • Hair and Wig Design Gerard Kelly
  • Dramaturgy Heather J. Violanti
  • Casting Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter & Paul Hardt
  • Production Stage Manager Kathy Snyder
  • Assistant Stage Manager Lauren McArthur
  • Assistant Director Katherine Schroeder
  • Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
  • Illustration Stefano Imbert
  • Graphics Hey Jude Design, Inc

ANDIE TUCHER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF JOUNRALISM: WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS: SENSATION OR SPINACH?

Should journalism give the public what it wants – or what it needs? Is there a middle ground?  Journalist and historian Andie Tucher explores the perennial delights and dangers of the sensational press in the U.S. and Britain and places Sir Charles Worgan in context with his real world counterparts.

Andie Tucher wrote Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness,and The Ax Murder in America’s First Mass Medium. She is an associate professor and directs theCommunications PhD program atthe Columbia Journalism School.

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ROBERT SQUILLACE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: ARNOLD BENNETT AND MODERNISM

Professor Robert Squillace discusses Bennett in the context of Modernism, the literary movement that misunderstood and mischaracterized his greatest work.   Robert Squillace is the author of Modernism, Modernity, and Arnold Bennett and Seeing Double: Revisioning Edwardian and Modernist Literature. He is Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at New York University.

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EDWARD MENDELSON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: ARNOLD BENNETT: A NOVELIST IN THE THEATER

Mendelson is the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He is Auden’s literary executor; his book Later Auden (1999) is a sequel to his Early Auden (1981).  His book The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life was published by Pantheon in 2006. He has prepared editions of novels by Hardy, Bennett, Meredith, Wells, and Trollope.

MARTIN MEISEL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: BENNETT ON BELONGING: PROFESSIONS, COMMUNITY, "THE PUBLIC" AND THE PLAY

Martin Meisel is Brander Matthews Professor Emeritus of Dramatic Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of How Plays Work and Shaw and the Nineteenth Century Theater.

WENDY LESSER, EDITOR, THE THREEPENNY REVIEW: WHO'S AFRAID OF ARNOLD BENNETT?

The publication of Virginia Woolf’s 1924 essay, “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown,” did much to malign Arnold Bennett’s literary reputation. A rallying cry to Modernism, the essay criticizes Bennett for placing too much emphasis on realistic detail and not enough on emotional truth. Author and Editor, Wendy Lesser takes issue with Woolf and discusses what she admires in Bennett’s work.

Wendy Lesser is editor of The Threepenny Review and the author of eight nonfiction books and one novel.  Winner of awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and numerous other organizations, she has written critiques on books, theater, film, dance, and music for a variety of publications.

STEVE LIPMAN, THE JEWISH WEEK: A JOURNALIST'S RESPONSE TO "WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS"

Veteran reporter and editor Steve Lipman shares his response to Bennett’s portrayal of the journalistic world. Lipman has been a staff writer at the Jewish Week since 1983 and was editor of the Buffalo Jewish Review from 1975 to 1983.

ALAN ANDREWS, DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY: ARNOLD BENNETT: A NOVELIST AMONG PLAYWRIGHTS

Bennett considered himself a novelist first and a playwright second—and it was only success as a novelist that inspired him to write for the theater.  Professor Alan Andrews discusses how Bennett’s skills as a novelist informed his dramatic work, and how fame in one genre shaped and challenged his career in the second.

 

Professor Alan Andrews is emeritus Professor of Theatre at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.  He has often written and lectured about the theatre of Bernard Shaw and his era.  He wrote the Introduction to the Mint Theater’s St. John Hankin Reclaimed.

J. ELLEN GAINOR, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: ARNOLD BENNETT AND THE EDWARDIAN THEATRE

J. Ellen Gainor is Professor of Theatre and a specialist in British and American drama of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and women’s dramaturgy. She is the author of the award-winning studiesShaw’s Daughters: Dramatic and Narrative Constructions of Gender and Susan Glaspell in Context: American Theater, Culture and Politics 1915-48.  She is also co-author of The Norton Anthology of Drama.

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