Clurman Theater at Theatre Row

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Harold Edgar Clurman (September 18, 1901 – September 9, 1980) was a visionary 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 the New York City's Group Theatre (1931–1941). Clurman directed more than 40 plays in his career and, during the 1950s, was nominated for a Tony Award as director for several productions. In addition to his directing career, he was drama critic for The New Republic (1948–52) and The Nation (1953–1980), helping shape American theater by writing about it. Clurman wrote seven books about the theatre, including his memoir The Fervent Years: The Group Theatre And The Thirties (1961).

Clurman had an active career as a director, over the decades leading more than 40 productions, and helping bring many new works to the stage.(See list below.) He is considered "one of the most influential theater directors in America".
In addition, Clurman helped shape American theater by writing about it - he was drama critic for The New Republic (1948–52) and then for The Nation (1953–1980). He encouraged new styles of production, such as that of the Living Theater, as well as championing plays and playwrights.

Clurman wrote a memoir about the Group Theatre's beginning and their making art within American culture, called The Fervent Years: The Group Theatre And The Thirties (reprinted in 1983). He published six other books about the theatre.

In Uta Hagen's Respect for Acting, the celebrated actress and acting teacher credits Clurman with a turn-around in her perspective on acting. She summed up his approach as demanding the human being within the character:
"In 1947, I worked in a play under the direction of Harold Clurman. He opened a new world in the professional theatre for me. He took away my 'tricks.' He imposed no line readings, no gestures, no positions on the actors. At first I floundered badly because for many years I had become accustomed to using specific outer directions as the material from which to construct the mask for my character, the mask behind which I would hide throughout the performance. Mr. Clurman refused to accept a mask. He demanded ME in the role. My love of acting was slowly reawakened as I began to deal with a strange new technique of evolving in the character. I was not allowed to begin with, or concern myself at any time with, a preconceived form. I was assured that a form would result from the work we were doing."
Clurman died in 1980 in New York City of cancer.

Clurman Works on Broadway:
Note = All works are plays and are the original productions unless otherwise noted.
Caesar and Cleopatra (1925) (revival) - Actor
The Goat Song (1926) - Actor
The Chief Thing (1926) - Actor
Juarez and Maximilian (1926) - Actor
Night Over Taos (1932) - Produced by The Group Theater
Big Night (1933) - Produced by The Group Theater
Men in White (1934) - Produced by The Group Theater
Awake and Sing! (1935) - Director, Produced by The Group Theater
Waiting for Lefty (1935) - Produced by The Group Theater
Till the Day I Die (1935) - Produced by The Group Theater
Weep for the Virgins (1935) - Produced by The Group Theater
Paradise Lost (1935) - Director, Produced by The Group Theater
Case of Clyde Griffiths (1936) - Co-produced by The Group Theater
Johnny Johnson (1936) - Produced by The Group Theater
Golden Boy (1937) - Director, Produced by The Group Theater
Casey Jones (1938) - Produced by The Group Theater
Rocket to the Moon (1938) - Director, Produced by The Group Theater
The Gentle People (1939) - Director, Produced by The Group Theater
Awake and Sing! (1939) (revival) - Director, Produced by The Group Theater
My Heart's in the Highlands (1939) - Produced by The Group Theater
Thunder Rock (1939) - Produced by The Group Theater
Night Music (1940) - Director, Produced by The Group Theater
Retreat to Pleasure (1940) - Director
The Russian People (1942) - Director
Deadline at Dawn (1945) - RKO pictures (movie - Director)
Beggars Are Coming to Town (1945) - Director
Truckline Cafe (1946) - Director and Co-producer
All My Sons (1947) - Co-producer
The Whole World Over (1947) - Director
The Young and Fair (1948) - Director
The Member of the Wedding (1950) - Director
The Bird Cage (1950) - Director
The Autumn Garden (1951) - Director
Desire Under the Elms (1952) (revival) - Director
The Time of the Cuckoo (1953) - Director
The Emperor's Clothes (1953) - Director
The Ladies of the Corridor (1953) - Director
Mademoiselle Colombe (1954) - Director
Bus Stop (1955) - Director - Tony Nomination for Best Director
Tiger at the Gates (1955) - Director - Tony Nomination for Best Director
Pipe Dream (1955) (musical) - Director - Tony Nomination for Best Director
The Waltz of the Toreadors (1957) - Director - Tony Nomination for Best Director
Orpheus Descending (1957) - Director
The Day the Money Stopped (1958) - Director
The Waltz of the Toreadors (1958) (revival) - Director
A Touch of the Poet (1958) - Director
The Cold Wind and the Warm (1958) - Director
Heartbreak House (1959) - (revival) - Director
A Shot in the Dark (1961) - Director
After the Fall, The Changeling, Incident at Vichy, and Tartuffe (all played in repertory) (1964–1965) - Executive Consultant to the producer, Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center
Where's Daddy? (1966) - Director

Helped create a uniquely American theater
Harold Clurman Theatre on Broadway was named for him

Clurman was born on the Lower East Side of New York City to Jewish immigrant parents from eastern Europe. His parents took him at age six to wYiddish theater,here Jacob Adler's performances in Yiddish translations of Karl Gutzkow's Uriel Acosta and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Nathan the Wise fascinated him, although he did not understand Yiddish. [Adler, 1999, p. 333 (commentary).
Clurman attended Columbia and, at the age of twenty, moved to France to study at the University of Paris. There Clurman shared an apartment with the young composer Aaron Copland. In Paris, he saw all sorts of theatrical productions. Clurman was especially influenced by the work of Jacques Copeau and the Moscow Art Theatre, whose permanent company built a strong creative force. He wrote his thesis on the history of French drama from 1890 to 1914.
Clurman returned to New York in 1924 and started working as an extra in plays, despite his lack of experience. Clurman became a stage manager and play reader for the Theatre Guild. Clurman briefly studied Stanislavsky’s system under the tutelage of Richard Boleslavsky (Carnickle 39), and became Jacques Copeau's translator/assistant on his production of The Brothers Karamazov, based on the 1880 novel by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Clurman began work as an actor in New York. He felt that the standard American theater, though successful at the box office (Smith 4), was not providing the experience which he wanted (Smith 11). He said, “I was interested in what the theater was going to say…The theater must say something. It must relate to society. It must relate to the world we live in.”
Together with the like-minded Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg, he began to create what would become the Group Theatre. In November 1930, Clurman led weekly lectures, in which they talked about founding a permanent theatrical company to produce plays dealing with important modern social issues. Together with 28 other young people, they formed a group that developed a groundbreaking style of theater that strongly influenced American productions, including such elements as method acting, realism based on American stories, and political content. By building a permanent company, they expected to increase the synergy and trust among the members, who included Stella Adler, Morris Carnovsky, Phoebe Brand, Elia Kazan, Clifford Odets, and Sanford Meisner.
In the summer of 1931, the first members of the Group Theatre rehearsed for several weeks in the countryside of Nichols, Connecticut at the Pine Brook Country Club. They were preparing their first production, The House of Connelly by Paul Green, directed by Strasberg. Clurman was the scholar of the group — he knew multiple languages, read widely, and listened to a broad array of music (Smith 16), while Strasberg dealt with acting and directing, and Crawford dealt with the business side of things.
The first play which Clurman directed for the Group Theatre was Awake and Sing! by Clifford Odets, in 1935. The play's success led Clurman to develop his directing style. He believed that all the elements of a play—text, acting, lighting, scenery and direction—needed to work together to convey a unified message. Clurman would read the script over and over, each time focusing on a different element or character ("On Directing 74"). He tried to inspire, guide and constructively critique his designers, rather than dictate to them (“On Directing” 54). He would also use Richard Boleslavsky's technique of identifying the "spine," or main action, of each character, then using those to determine the spine of the play ("On Directing" 74). He encouraged his actors to find "active verbs" to describe what their characters were trying to accomplish ("On Directing 28"). He believed that Stanislavsky's system was good to know and study, but too time-consuming to use fully.
In 1937, tensions between Clurman, Crawford and Strasberg caused the latter two to resign from the Group; four years later, the Group Theatre permanently disbanded. Clurman went on to direct plays on Broadway, more than 40 in all, and write as a newspaper theatre critic (Smith 422).

In 1940 Clurman married Stella Adler, a charismatic theatre actress and later a renowned New York acting coach. A member of the Group Theatre since its founding, she was the daughter of the notable actor Jacob Adler. Clurman was her second husband. They divorced in 1960.