Archive for February, 2009

Ο Τερζόπουλος ενώνει την Κορέα

Posted on February 27, 2009. Filed under: Τερζόπουλος Θόδωρος |

Ο Θ. Τερζόπουλος συνάντησε τον Γερμανό σκηνοθέτη Φρανκ Κάστορφ (κάτω) στο Berliner Ensemble του Βερολίνου, για μια συζήτηση γύρω από τα νέα ζητούμενα της τέχνης, και τον Κορεάτη υπουργό Πολιτισμού, Αθλητισμού και Τουρισμού Γιου Ιν-Τσον (κάτω αριστερά) στη Σεούλ για τις λεπτομέρειες της διοργάνωσης της 5ης Θεατρικής Ολυμπιάδας στην πόλη το 2010

«Στην Ελλάδα υπάρχει μεγάλη κρίση στον πολιτισμό. Δεν μπορεί η ελληνικότητα να είναι ταυτόσημη της εσωστρέφειας. Το υπουργείο Πολιτισμού πρέπει να γίνει κατ’ επειγόντως συνώνυμο του υπουργείου Εξωτερικών», λέει με έμφαση ο σκηνοθέτης Θόδωρος Τερζόπουλος. Και κάνει ό,τι μπορεί γι’ αυτό, κινούμενος με την άνεση του κοσμοπολίτη θεατράνθρωπου στα διεθνή πολιτιστικά κέντρα του κόσμου. Εχει και την ικανότητα και τη δυνατότητα γι’ αυτό. Και, όπως προσθέτει, από το γραφείο του στο θέατρο «Αττις»: «Μέσα από τα προσωπικά μου ταξίδια δίνω σινιάλα και χαράσσω πολιτιστική πολιτική».

Το αποτέλεσμα; Η «κλεισμένη» σε διάφορες γωνιές του πλανήτη επομένη 5ετία. Και δεν αναφερόμαστε μόνο στις περιοδείες του «Αττις», τις σκηνοθεσίες του, τα εργαστήριά του. Ας ακολουθήσουμε τα πιο πρόσφατα βήματά του:

* ΣΕΟΥΛ: Διπλωματική είδηση: την ώρα που ελλοχεύει ακόμη και το ενδεχόμενο μιας πυρηνικής σύρραξης, η Βόρεια και η Νότια Κορέα θα συνεργαστούν για πρώτη φορά με μια κοινή θεατρική παράσταση. Πού; Στην 5η Θεατρική Ολυμπιάδα της Σεούλ τον Οκτώβριο του 2010. Πριν από δέκα μέρες επέστρεψε ο Τερζόπουλος, ο «ηθικός αυτουργός» της απρόσμενης σύμπραξης, από τη Σεούλ. Εκεί, ως πρόεδρος της Διεθνούς Επιτροπής της Θεατρικής Ολυμπιάδας μαζί με τον Ταντάσι Σουζούκι πραγματοποίησε συναντήσεις με τον υπουργό Πολιτισμού, Αθλητισμού και Τουρισμού της Ν. Κορέας και διάσημο ηθοποιό της χώρας, Γιου Ιν-Τσον. «Με εντυπωσίασε που και ο υπουργός και ο διευθυντής του Εθνικού Θεάτρου της Σεούλ για τέσσερις ώρες αναζητούσαν μαζί μου τον τίτλο της 5ης Θεατρικής Ολυμπιάδας. Καταλήξαμε στο “Μια σκηνή για την καρδιά”. Καρδιά είναι η ονομασία του σημείου που χωρίζεται η Βόρεια από τη Νότια Κορέα. Στην Κορέα μπορώ να πω ότι αισθάνθηκα χρήσιμος».

Δεν υπονοεί ότι στη χώρα του αισθάνεται… άχρηστος. «Στην Ελλάδα σε αχρηστεύουν όμως», διευκρινίζει. Φέρνει αδιάσειστο παράδειγμα την «τελευταία τραυματική εμπειρία της περιβόητης Ακαδημίας Θεάτρου, για την οποία “χρησιμοποιήθηκα” μαζί με άξιους συναδέλφους μου». Με τον υπουργό της Σεούλ πραγματοποίησε και αυτοψία σε όλα τα πολιτιστικά κέντρα και θέατρα της Σεούλ. «Μιλάμε για έναν άλλο κόσμο. Μια άλλη εποχή. Τεχνολογίες που δεν τις πιάνουμε εμείς», αποφαίνεται ο σκηνοθέτης.

* ΒΕΡΟΛΙΝΟ. Πριν από λίγες μέρες, μαζί με την παρουσίαση του τόμου του Φρανκ Ράντατς «Στον Λαβύρινθο: από τον Θόδωρο Τερζόπουλο στον Μίλερ», το κοινό στο Brecht Haus του Berliner Ensemble παρακολούθησε συζήτηση του Τερζόπουλου και του μόνιμου σκηνοθέτη της γερμανικής «Φολκσμπίνε» Φρανκ Κάστορφ, που γωνρίσαμε στο Φεστιβάλ Αθηνών με τον «Βορρά» του Σελίν.

«Εκφράσαμε απενοχοποιημένα απόψεις για την τέχνη και τις ανάγκες της νέας εποχής. Συγκατανεύσαμε στο ότι ο μεταμοντερνισμός έχει πεθάνει και πρέπει να ξανακοιτάξουμε τις μεγάλες σχολές του 20ού αιώνα. Στο τέλος μάς πλήρωσαν και μας είπαν κι ευχαριστώ. Πράγματα αδιανόητα για την Ελλάδα», υποστηρίζει ο σκηνοθέτης, που από το Βερολίνο έφυγε και με το Βραβείο Φίλων του Ιδρύματος Ελληνικού Πολιτισμού.

* ΙΤΑΛΙΑ. Η «Ερημος» του αυτόχειρα λάτρη των προσωκρατικών Κάρλο Μικελστέτερ (1887-1910), που παρακολουθήσαμε πέρσι σε σύλληψη-σκηνοθεσία Τερζόπουλου στο «Αττις» με τον ηθοποιό και συγγραφέα Πάολο Μουζίο, θα παρουσιαστεί στην ολοκληρωμένη μορφή της το φθινόπωρο. Για τη συμπαραγωγή με τα κρατικά θέατρα της Ρώμης, του Τορίνο, της Μοδένα, του Παλέρμο και της Νάπολη, οι πρόβες έχουν ήδη ξεκινήσει.

«Το μεγάλο», σύμφωνα με τον Τερζόπουλο, «πείραμα όλων των κρατικών θεάτρων της Ιταλίας, και όχι περιθωριακών μικρών “μαγαζιών”, που ξεκινά στις 28 Ιουλίου, θα έχει Χορό 12 ηλικιωμένων τραγουδιστών της Σκάλας του Μιλάνου και σκηνικό-εγκατάσταση του Γιάννη Κουνέλλη. Η ιδιαιτερότητά του, ωστόσο, έγκειται στο ότι ο ίδιος, Τερζόπουλος θα ερμηνεύει επί σκηνής κείμενα του Ηράκλειτου. Στο συμπόσιο, που θα πλαισιώσει την παράσταση, θα μετάσχουν οι Κλαούντιο Μαγκρίς, Μάσιμο Κατσάρι κ.ά.

* ΕΣΕΝ. Εχει ήδη αρχίσει και η προετοιμασία της «Προμηθειάδας» του Τερζόπουλου, που θα παρουσιαστεί στην Πολιτιστική Πρωτεύουσα του 2010 σε εγκατάσταση που θα στήσει στο αρχαιότερο εργοστάσιο κάρβουνου της πόλης Zeche Zollverein ο Κουνέλλης. Προμηθείς θα είναι τρεις: ένας Γερμανός, ένας Τούρκος κι ένας Ελληνας. Τρίγλωσσος θα είναι και ο Χορός. Η παράσταση, συμπαραγωγή και με το Ελληνικό Φεστιβάλ, θα παρουσιαστεί επίσης στην Αγία Ειρήνη της Κωνσταντινούπολης και στην Αθήνα -σε βιομηχανικό χώρο που αναζητείται. Στο project της «Προμηθειάδας» συμμετέχουν με δουλειά τους οι Γερμανοί Rimini Protokoll και με τον «Νέο Προμηθέα» του Γιασέρ Κεμάλ η Τουρκάλα Σαχίντ Τεκάντ.

* ΠΟΛΩΝΙΑ: Ετος Γέρζι Γκροτόφσκι (1933-1999) το φετινό. Και η γενέτειρα του μεγάλου θεατρανθρώπου το εορτάζει στο Βρότσλαβ από τις 19 ώς τις 24 Ιουνίου με τη συμμετοχή κορυφαίων δασκάλων της θεατρικής τέχνης: εκτός από τον Τερζόπουλο θα είναι εκεί ο Πίτερ Μπρουκ, η Πίνα Μπάους, ο Ταντάσι Σουζούκι και ο Εουτζένιο Μπάρμπα.

* ΜΟΣΧΑ. Αν τον Τερζόπουλο τον συναντάτε σε πτήσεις για τη ρωσική πρωτεύουσα είναι για έναν πολύ συγκεκριμένο λόγο: κάνει οντισιόν για την «Ηλέκτρα» του Στράους, που θα ανεβεί στο ανακαινισμένο θέατρο των Μπολσόι τέλος του 2010. Τα 140 μουσικά όργανα θα διευθύνει ο διεθνής Βλάντιμιρ Γιουρίφσκι. *

Info:

  • Μπαράζ εκδόσεων για τον Θόδωρο Τερζόπουλο το τελευταίο διάστημα σε Γερμανία, Ελλάδα και Τουρκία, ενώ αναμένεται και συνέχεια. Πέρα από το «Στον λαβύρινθο: από τον Τερζόπουλο στον Μίλερ» (εκδόσεις «Theater der Zeit»), από το «Μεταίχμιο» κυκλοφόρησε το «Γεωμετρώντας το Χάος – Μορφή και μεταφυσική στο θέατρο του Θεόδωρου Τερζόπουλου» του Γιώργου Σαμπατακάκη. Το βιβλίο «Το θέατρο του Τερζόπουλου – Διασχίζοντας τα σύνορα με την τραγωδία» του Κερέμ Καραμπογκά κυκλοφόρησε από τις κωνσταντινουπολίτικες εκδόσεις «Basilari Sever». Ενας νέος τόμος για τη Μέθοδο Τερζόπουλου πρόκειται να κυκλοφορήσει από τον βερολινέζικο εκδοτικό οίκο «Theater der Zeit» και το «Columbia Press».
  • Να υπενθυμίσουμε ότι ο Τερζόπουλος στην αθηναϊκή «βάση» του «Αττις» πρόκειται να ανεβάσει τον «Χορευτή», ποιητική σύνθεση του Γερμανού ποιητή Εριχ Αρεντ (1903-1984) με τον Τάσο Δήμα και τον ίδιο, το «Μάουζερ» του Χάινερ Μίλερ σε πρώτη πανελλήνια παράσταση με τους Σοφία Μιχοπούλου, Σοφία Χιλλ, Σάββα Στρούμπο, Θανάση Αλευρά, Στάθη Γράψα και Αντώνη Μυριαγκ, και την «Ιοκάστη», το τελευταίο κείμενο του πρόωρα χαμένου ηθοποιού, συγγραφέα και σκηνοθέτη Γιάννη Κοντραφούρη. Ιοκάστη η Σοφία Χιλλ.
  • Της ΙΩΑΝΝΑΣ ΚΛΕΦΤΟΓΙΑΝΝΗ, ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΟΤΥΠΙΑ – 27/02/2009
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Hugh Leonard dies at 82; Irish writer of ‘Da’ and other plays

Posted on February 14, 2009. Filed under: Λέοναρντ Χιου, Leonard Hugh |

Hugh Leonard, born John Keyes Byrne, adapted classic works and short stories to the Irish stage and screen, and wrote plays that landed on Broadway.

Hugh Leonard dies

OBITUARIES
Hugh Leonard, born John Keyes Byrne, adapted classic works and short stories to the Irish stage and screen, and wrote plays that landed on Broadway.
In addition to being a successful Broadway playwright, Hugh Leonard became a leading influence on stagecraft in Ireland.
By associated press
Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2009

Reporting from Dublin — Irish playwright and commentator Hugh Leonard, who won a Tony Award in 1978 for his bittersweet father-and-son drama “Da,” died Thursday. He was 82 and had been hospitalized for more than a year battling various illnesses. Irish President Mary McAleese lauded Leonard as a writer who “infused his work with a unique wit, all the while demonstrating a great intuition, perceptiveness and forgiveness of human nature.”

He was born John Keyes Byrne in Dublin on Nov. 9, 1926. He took the pen name Hugh Leonard in the arch-conservative Catholic Ireland of the 1950s to hide his double life as an aspiring, outspoken writer from his Irish civil service employers. He quit his day job in 1957 after the Abbey Theatre triumph of his first play, “The Birthday Party,” the year before.

In the 1960s, Leonard became Ireland’s most accomplished adapter of classic works and short stories to the Irish stage and screen, and a driving force in the promotion of modern Irish stagecraft. He wrote 16 plays specifically for the Dublin Theatre Festival, starting with “A Walk on the Water” in 1960, and served as the festival’s program director from 1978 to 1980.

Leonard’s talents reached an international stage when his play “The au Pair Man” made it to Broadway in 1973. That was followed by “Da,” which had a triumphant two-year run on Broadway in 1977-78, and “A Life,” in 1980. Of the three, “Da” was the most successful, running for 697 shows.

The play, drawing on Leonard’s own upbringing by adoptive parents, explores a writer returning home to Ireland upon his adoptive father’s death — and finding himself caught in bittersweet dialogue with his father’s ghost, who refuses to leave. Together they reflect on the key moments of compassion and disconnection in their parting lives. A film version of “Da” starring Martin Sheen and Barnard Hughes appeared in 1988.

In his later years, Leonard cast a caustic eye on modern Ireland in his weekly Sunday column in the Independent newspaper, in which he branded himself “Curmudgeon.” From that rambling, at times stream-of-conscious pulpit, he alternately mocked, cajoled and praised the leading lights of the day.

During the 1960s and ’70s, he adapted several classic novels for British television, including “Nicholas Nickleby” and “Wuthering Heights.” He also wrote a two-volume bestselling autobiography, “Home Before Night” (1979) and “Out After Dark” (1989).  Leonard is survived by his second wife, Kathy Bateson, whom he married in 2000, and a daughter from his first marriage. His first wife of 45 years, Paule Jacquet, died in 2000. Leonard’s funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

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Alan Ayckbourn: Why my shows must go on

Posted on February 14, 2009. Filed under: Ayckbourn Alan |

GEOFF PUGH

Britain’s most prolific living playwright Alan Ayckbourn at his Wapping home. PHOTOGRAPHER: GEOFF PUGH

When Alan Ayckbourn was six years old, his mother gave him a typewriter. Sitting at her feet on the floor, he began “bashing out long, complicated stories with two fingers”, which he admits were “total stinkers”. But as he learnt to use more digits, the stories improved, and 63 years later have made Ayckbourn the most prolific playwright of his generation.

He is quick to acknowledge the influence of his mother, who made her living writing short stories for women’s magazines. “I spent a lot of my time in her company as a child and she would sit tapping away at her typewriter, so I grew up thinking

that’s what mothers did,” he says.

“If she’d have been a baker, I would probably have started rolling out pastries.”

Ayckbourn’s many hits, such as Bedroom Farce, The Revengers’ Comedies and Absurd Person Singular, have made him the world’s most performed living playwright.

Ayckbourn has been writing plays for 50 years, and his work is more popular than ever. Last year, The Norman Conquests, a trilogy written in 1973, was revived to great acclaim at the Old Vic, and will open on Broadway later this year, where a street has been named Ayckbourn Alley in his honour.

Today, he is in London to oversee the West End revival of Woman in Mind, a dark comedy about a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who slowly succumbs to madness, which he is directing himself.

We meet at his pied-à-terre in east London, where, with its huge windows looking on to the river, Ayckbourn loves to watch the boats and barges chug up and down the Thames. “It’s very much a home away from home,” he says. “When I snuffled around for somewhere to buy in London, I saw this place and thought: ‘Great, it’s just like Scarborough.'”

Scarborough, where Ayckbourn lives most of the time with his second wife, Heather, is his spiritual home, and is where, for 37 years, he has been artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre. It is also where nearly all of his 72 plays have had their first performances.

Born in Hampstead and schooled in Hertfordshire, he came to Scarborough as an 18-year-old actor and never left. “I started out as an actor/writer and, as the flagrant self-publicist that I was, I wrote all the best parts for myself,” he says. “But the writing improved while the acting didn’t. One of those two personas had to go, so I fired the actor.”

He has been described as the “Molière of the middle classes” for his ability to lay bare the foibles of suburban bourgeoisie and depict the frustrations and disappointments of married life. He admits that he soaked up much inspirational fodder from his own rather unconventional early family life.

Ayckbourn’s father, Horace, was the lead violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra, who ran off with the second violinist, abandoning the young Alan and his mother, Irene. The couple had never been married, because Irene was already married to someone else, who she only divorced to marry a bank manager in 1948. Ayckbourn says he still isn’t sure quite how many marriages she had, and only recently discovered, courtesy of his biographer, that he has a half-brother.

“Yes, it was a rather colourful upbringing. I suppose most of what you write about for the rest of your life, if you’re really writing from within, is all there by the time you’re 12. Even though I’ve lived in Yorkshire for most of my life, my inner voice is a Cockney, common as hell,” he says, feigning an east London accent.

Many of his characters, he admits, are based on bits and pieces of himself and his nearest and dearest. “You mine yourself a lot. I have a sum of human failings. I lie, cheat and dissemble – so most of the characters spring from me.

“I’ve used my loved ones quite flagrantly and shamelessly. I remember sitting next to my first wife in one of my plays, and after a scene she said: ‘That was a private conversation!'”

The critic Michael Billington once said that Ayckbourn was critically underestimated because he wrote comedies. I ask the “King of Giggles”, as he is often described, whether he finds it irksome that even though he has been knighted for his work, some critics have sniffily refused to consider him alongside the likes of Harold Pinter, Sir Tom Stoppard and Sir David Hare.

“It’s more important to me to make people laugh, provided they come. If a house is full of people, you know you’re doing something right.”

The plays have flowed thick and fast for most of his 50-year career, but in 2006, when Ayckbourn suffered a stroke while lying on an osteopath’s bed, he encountered a frightening dearth of creativity.

“Coming out of the stroke, for the first terrifying weeks, it was like a woman who’d been pregnant all her life and wasn’t pregnant any more. I had no idea of a play at all, when I had always been able to write through any block. It was very lonely. So I decided to just direct for a bit.

“Being in the rehearsal room is the most rejuvenating force for me. I thrive on their [actors’] energy like some old emotional vampire, and that brought me round.”

The stroke has, however, left him frail, and he walks with a stick. He acknowledges that his writing has since become darker, although, he insists, it is “never morbid”.

“People assume with writing that, hopefully, over the years, you improve, but I wouldn’t bank on it,” he laughs. “That’s why I haven’t changed a word of Woman in Mind for the revival. It would be arrogant for a near 70-year-old [his birthday is in April] to think he could improve on a 50-year-old’s work, however much I might be tempted.”

Next month, the curtain will come down on Ayckbourn’s reign as artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre. While he will continue to write and direct plays for his beloved playhouse, there is an overwhelming sadness about him when he talks of handing over to someone else.

“It’s quite strange, really,” he says, wistfully looking down at his hands. “Since the stroke I have eased out of the day-to-day running of the place, but it feels funny to go into a building where I no longer have an office.”

He is most definitely not, he insists, retiring, and speaks excitedly about two revivals of How the Other Half Lives and Man of the Moment he will direct at Scarborough later this year. But why not just sit back and enjoy the fruits of his success?

“Because I think I’ll probably drop dead in a rehearsal room, getting over-excited trying to outmanoeuvre some young stripling, or at the computer,” he explains. “I’d be lost otherwise. I’m not very good at going on holidays or sitting on beaches – I wouldn’t know where to start to relax.”

His final play as artistic director at Scarborough was Awaking Beauty, a tongue-in-cheek musical about a woman’s quest for eternal youth. “There is something rather nice about writing musicals,” he muses, although he is not generally a fan of the genre which is currently dominating the West End. “Most musicals are tacky old wrecks, with a few exceptions, but some are an insult to the intelligence. They are so loud.”

His other bugbear is the stream of Hollywood and soap-opera stars treading the boards. In 2002, he announced a moratorium of his plays transferring to the West End after he felt it had been taken over by “lesser” actors. It is a position he has only recently relaxed.

“These ‘stars’ look at a script and say: ‘Well, I don’t think much of my part – I’m off for three pages’,” he says disdainfully. “It’s a double-edged sword, especially with celebrity figures from soap operas. You bring in an audience with expectations who feel let down because they are not seeing their favourite character from EastEnders.”

Might the King of Giggles ever be tempted to write a tragedy, particularly in these hard times? “No, I don’t think so. If you paint a picture, you’ve got to put light and shadow in it. Comedy is the light. A play with no laughs is like a flower with no water. It just dies.

“Maybe I’ll write a play about a family that suddenly finds it hasn’t got any money, but I’m not going to do a huge great castigation of Gordon Brown and his mishandling of the economy,” he says with a wry smile.

“I’ll leave that one to Mr Hare.”

* Woman In Mind is at the Vaudeville Theatre, The Strand, London WC2 (0870 890 0511, www.vaudeville-theatre.co.uk ) until June

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William Gibson Late-blooming writer best known for his play The Miracle Worker

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: Gibson William |

William Gibson

William Gibson, aged 88, at home in Stockbridge. Photograph: Alan Solomon/AP

After a slow-burning start, William Gibson, who has died aged 94, found worldwide success in his forties. He did so with two plays – The Miracle Worker [1957] and Two for a Seesaw [1958] – which both have women at their centre, and made a star of Anne Bancroft. These followed a bestselling novel, The Cobweb [1954], so scandalous that Gibson’s widowed mother Florence confessed to her priest after reading it.

The Miracle Worker began as a television play and told the story of how Helen Keller (played by Patty McCormack), a blind-deaf girl, was brought out of near-total isolation and taught to communicate by her semi-blind teacher Annie Sullivan (Teresa Wright). Annie realises that Helen’s family merely indulges her: “It’s less trouble to feel sorry for her than to teach her anything better, isn’t it?” Her tough love, portrayed by Gibson in many affecting and fraught scenes, helps Helen acquire a grasp of language.

Gibson expanded the play for the stage, and enlisted the then unknown actress Anne Bancroft for the 1959 Broadway production. Her first great success, however, was in Gibson’s Two for the Seesaw (1958), which reached the stage before The Miracle Worker. Two for the Seesaw has only two characters: a young Jewish gamine, Gittel, who lives in one small apartment while another contains her new lover, an older, out-of-town lawyer, Jerry, often rung by the wife whom he is divorcing. Gittel’s crackling wit put off many candidates for Jerry’s role, until Henry Fonda signed up. Audiences for the smash hit relished such lines as Gittel’s semi-confessing to another dalliance: “Well, he may have slept with me, but I didn’t sleep with him.”

Gibson was on a roll. “Will it lead to anything?” asked his mother when half-a-million dollars arrived from Hollywood. The Miracle Worker was successfully filmed by Arthur Penn, again with Anne Bancroft, in 1962. The same year Robert Wise less effectively made Two for the Seesaw, with Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum. As Seesaw, in 1973, it was the great lyricist Dorothy Fields’s last musical, and included “It’s Not Where You Start (It’s Where you Finish)”.

Of Irish, French, German, Dutch and Russian ancestry, Gibson was born and grew up in the Bronx, the teeming, dramatic New York neighbourhood later brilliantly evoked in his substantial, unusual memoir A Mass for the Dead (1968). His father, Irv, was a Protestant, and in that era his decision to marry a Catholic, Florence, after a five-year engagement, was rather bold. They wed nine months and 19 days before their son’s birth – Florence said, “Thank goodness for the 19 days!”. His mother encouraged William’s writing and music, and the local library was addictive – “an opium den”, he said later.

In the Thirties, Gibson began to write seriously, at the City College of New York and in Greenwich Village. He joined a government programme for writers, and was set the menial task of tabulating old garbage-collection records, and also played the piano in bars at night to make ends meet. Although he managed to sell a story for $150, after his marriage to Margaret Bremnan in 1940 it was his wife’s income as a psychiatrist which sustained them, while he wrote verse, in 1948 publishing Winter Crook. With an emphasis upon nature, it also gave a candid depiction of his wife: “as inviting as valley/or wanton hills, whose thighs/are my earth”.

The arrival of two sons necessitated a turn to more profitable prose. The engrossing The Cobweb (1954), with its charged, small-town shenanigans, was inspired by a stint working at a psychiatric home, and was published two years before the notorious Peyton Place. Brought in to bolster a troubled fictional psychiatric home, its central character Dr Stewart McIver neglects his wife, Karen, while tending patients, becomes embroiled with his assistant, Meg, and is at loggerheads with a colleague. There are also disputes over new curtains for the patients’ sitting-room.

Vincente Minnelli’s enjoyable 1955 film of the book featured Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish and Oscar Levant. Gibson netted $40,000 for script polishing but was unnerved by the glamour of Hollywood (in photographs, publicists airbrushed his eyebrows, which met in the middle, to make them tidier), and he returned home. Although, Gibson said, “my conscience kept nagging me that writing dialogue was not real work”, he was encouraged by the director Arthur Penn, and their collaboration produced the first TV version of The Miracle Worker (1957).

After the successes of the 1950s, Gibson’s subsequent career was erratic. His musical based on Clifford Odets’s boxing play Golden Boy (1964), with Sammy Davis Jr, has become a cult as a result of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’s unusual score. Gibson revived an early, effective play about Shakespeare, A Cry of Players – again with Bancroft – while his literary criticism includes A Season in Heaven (1974) and Shakespeare’s Game (1978). Bancroft also took the lead role in his play Golda (1977). Its large cast, however, did not make the politician’s life dramatic, and in 2002 Gibson reduced it to a monologue, Golda’s Balcony. A sequel to The Miracle Worker, Monday After the Miracle (1982), did not have the dramatic urgency of the original.

Gibson’s wife died in 2004. He is survived by his two sons.

• William Gibson, playwright, writer and poet, born 13 November 1914; died 25 November 2008

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Robert Anderson, 91; wrote ‘Tea and Sympathy,’ other plays

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: Anderson Robert |

Robert Anderson, at a rehearsal hall in New York City.

Robert Anderson, at a rehearsal hall in New York City. (ap/file 1967)

By Bruce Weber

New York Times / February 11, 2009

NEW YORK – Robert Anderson, a playwright whose intimate emotional dramas, such as “Tea and Sympathy” and “I Never Sang for My Father,” attracted big names to the Broadway stage if not always substantial audiences to theaters, died Monday at home in Manhattan. He was 91.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to his family.

Mr. Anderson was a contemporary of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, and though his reputation never ascended to the artistic heights theirs did – his plays often walked a tightrope between realism and sentimentality – he was among the theater’s most visible, serious playwrights of the 1950s and ’60s.

Mr. Anderson also wrote screenplays, including those for “The Sand Pebbles” (1966), with Steve McQueen, and “The Nun’s Story” (1959), with Audrey Hepburn. But he thought of himself as a playwright who wrote movies for money.

He had six plays on Broadway between 1953 and 1971, beginning with “Tea and Sympathy,” the story of a sensitive, artistic boy who is ostracized by his prep school classmates as a supposed homosexual but who is befriended – and ultimately sexually initiated – by the housemaster’s wife.

“Tea and Sympathy,” directed by Elia Kazan, starred Deborah Kerr in her Broadway debut, fresh from her steamy role as an adulteress in “From Here to Eternity.” The play, which later became a film, ends with a scene considered salacious at the time and a famous final line. The housemaster’s wife, after leaving her husband, draws the student into her arms and says, “Years from now when you talk of this – and you will – be kind.”

The play “Tea and Sympathy” ran for nearly two years and made a name for Mr. Anderson as a writer who tackled serious subjects with sensitivity and accessibility, qualities that, as the years went by, drew both praise and scorn.

Mr. Anderson followed “Tea and Sympathy” with a series of works that were also emotionally high-pitched but nowhere near as successful. They included “All Summer Long,” with Carroll Baker and Ed Begley, adapted from a novel by Donald Wetzel, about a family so absorbed in its own acrimony that it ignores the rising river that is a threat to their home.

“Silent Night, Lonely Night” starred Barbara Bel Geddes and Henry Fonda as lonely strangers with marital woes who are placated by a night of adultery. “I Never Sang for My Father” concerned a middle-aged man (played by Hal Holbrook) and his unthawable relationship with his mean-spirited father (Alan Webb). The play was made into a better known film, also written by Mr. Anderson, starring Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas.

Mr. Anderson’s final Broadway play, “Solitaire/Double Solitaire,” was an odd mix of one acts, one an ironic science-fiction fantasy, the other a grimly realistic portrait of a disintegrating marriage.

Mr. Anderson’s plays attracted not only top-flight actors, but first-rate directors as well. “Summer ” and “I Never Sang” were directed by Alan Schneider, a leading interpreter of Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, and Samuel Beckett.

In 1967, Mr. Anderson scored his second Broadway hit, a series of four one-act comedies (also directed by Schneider) about a playwright who is having a hard time reconciling his own prudishness with his desire to write honestly about sex. Titled “You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running,” it ran for more than 750 performances from 1967 to 1969.

Robert Woodruff Anderson was born in New York City on April 28, 1917. His father was a business executive whom he drew on for his intractable male characters. He was sent to Phillips Exeter Academy, which he described as a lonely experience and where he fell in love with an older woman, all of which was grist for “Tea and Sympathy.”

Mr. Anderson received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Harvard, and he served in the Pacific in the Navy during World War II. On his return he adapted plays, movies, and novels for radio and television and taught playwriting for the American Theater Wing.

He was married twice, first to Phyllis Stohl, a director and playwright’s agent. She died of cancer in 1956, and his care of her over several years was the material for a 1973 novel, “After.”

Mr. Anderson married actress Teresa Wright in 1959. They divorced in 1978. Mr. Anderson had no children. In addition to his stepson, Busch, who lives in Indianapolis, he leaves a stepdaughter, Mary-Kelly Busch of Clinton, Conn.

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Author of the play ‘Tea and Sympathy’

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: Anderson Robert |

Robert Anderson

Associated Press
“Tea and Sympathy” was about the relationship between the wife of a headmaster at a New England prep school and a student suspected of being gay. The play was turned into a screenplay, which Robert Anderson also wrote.

Reporting from New York — Playwright Robert Anderson, author of such Broadway hits as “Tea and Sympathy” and “You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running,” died Monday. He was 91.

His stepdaughter, Mary-Kelly Busch, said Anderson, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died of pneumonia at his Manhattan home.

Anderson also wrote Hollywood screenplays, TV scripts and several novels, but it was his stage work that brought him the most fame.

He was best known for “Tea and Sympathy,” a drama about the relationship between the wife of a headmaster at a New England prep school and a student suspected of being gay.

The play, which opened on Broadway in 1953, starred Deborah Kerr as the wife and John Kerr as the young man. Both actors repeated their roles in the 1956 film version, which featured a screenplay by Anderson and was directed by Vincente Minnelli.

Anderson’s script contained an often-quoted line, uttered by the wife to the student about their affair: “Years from now, when you talk of this — and you will — be kind.”

His other big Broadway success was “You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running,” a collection of four one-act comedies, mostly about marriage, that opened in New York in 1967 and ran for more than 700 performances. Featured in the cast were Martin Balsam, George Grizzard, Eileen Heckart and Melinda Dillon.

Anderson’s other major Broadway productions included “Silent Night, Holy Night” (1959), starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Bel Geddes, and “I Never Sang for My Father” (1968), about a contentious father-son relationship. The cast included Hal Holbrook, Lillian Gish and Alan Webb.

His work in Hollywood included screenplays for “Until They Sail” (1957), “The Nun’s Story” (1959), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and “The Sand Pebbles” (1966), a Steve McQueen epic set in 1920s China.

In the ’70s, Anderson turned to writing novels: “After” (1973) and “Getting Up and Going Home” (1978), and he also wrote extensively for television.

Born April 28, 1917, in New York, Anderson went to Harvard. He served as a lieutenant in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he studied with John Gassner at the New School’s Dramatic Workshop. Anderson’s first Broadway effort was contributing to a short-lived revue “Dance Me a Song” (1950), whose cast included Wally Cox and Bob Fosse.

After his first wife, Phyllis Stohl, died in 1956, Anderson married actress Teresa Wright in 1959. Though they divorced in 1978, the couple remained close friends until her death in 2005.

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Robert Anderson, Playwright of ‘Tea and Sympathy,’ Dies at 91

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: Anderson Robert |

MGM, via Photofest

Robert Anderson, right, with Deborah Kerr and John Kerr, stars of the film “Tea and Sympathy.”

By BRUCE WEBER, The New York Times: February 10, 2009

Correction Appended

Robert Anderson, a playwright whose intimate emotional dramas like “Tea and Sympathy” and “I Never Sang for My Father” attracted big names to the Broadway stage if not always substantial audiences to Broadway theaters, died Monday at home in Manhattan. He was 91.

© Jill Krementz

Robert Anderson in 1988.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said Nevin Terence Busch, Mr. Anderson’s stepson.

Mr. Anderson was a contemporary of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, and though his reputation never ascended to the artistic heights that theirs did — his plays often walked a tightrope between realism and sentimentality — he was among the theater’s most visible, serious playwrights of the 1950s and ’60s.

Mr. Anderson also wrote screenplays, including those for “The Sand Pebbles” (1966), with Steve McQueen, and “The Nun’s Story” (1959), with Audrey Hepburn. But he thought of himself as a playwright who wrote movies for money.

He had six plays on Broadway between 1953 and 1971, beginning with “Tea and Sympathy,” the story of a sensitive, artistic boy who is ostracized by his prep school classmates as a supposed homosexual but who is befriended — and ultimately sexually initiated — by the housemaster’s wife.

“Tea and Sympathy,” directed by Elia Kazan, starred Deborah Kerrin her Broadway debut, fresh from her steamy role as an adultress in “From Here to Eternity.” The play, which later became a film, ends with a scene considered salacious at the time and a famous final line. The housemaster’s wife, after leaving her husband, draws the student into her arms and says, “Years from now when you talk of this, and you will, be kind.”

“Tea and Sympathy” ran for nearly two years and made a name for Mr. Anderson as a writer who tackled serious subjects with sensitivity and accessibility, qualities that, as the years went by, drew both praise and scorn.

“Tea and Sympathy,” Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times, “restores our theater to an art again with a fine play put on the stage with great skill and beauty.” A contrary view was expressed, in 2004, by another of Mr. Anderson’s contemporaries, the playwright and director Arthur Laurents.

“That play?” Mr. Laurents said in a Times interview. “That play is a fraud.”

Mr. Anderson followed “Tea and Sympathy” with a series of works that were also emotionally high-pitched but nowhere near as successful. They included “All Summer Long,” with Carroll Baker and Ed Begley, adapted from a novel by Donald Wetzel, about a family so absorbed in its own acrimony that it ignores the rising river that is a threat to the family home; “Silent Night, Lonely Night,” which starred Barbara Bel Geddes and Henry Fonda, as lonely strangers with marital woes who are placated by a night of adultery; and “I Never Sang for My Father,” which was about a middle-aged man (played by Hal Holbrook) and his unthawable relationship with his mean-spirited father (Alan Webb). The play was made into a better known film, also written by Mr. Anderson, starring Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas.

Mr. Anderson’s final Broadway play, “Solitaire/Double Solitaire,” was an odd mix of one-acts, one an ironic science-fiction fantasy, the other a grimly realistic portrait of a disintegrating marriage.

Mr. Anderson’s plays attracted not only top-flight actors but first-rate directors as well. “Summer ” and “I Never Sang” were directed by Alan Schneider, a leading interpreter of Edward Albee, Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett; “Solitaire,” which closed in October 1971, was directed by Arvin Brown, who was artistic director for 30 years of the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven and would go on to direct “The Gin Game, “The Shadow Box” and “The National Health” on Broadway.

In 1967, Mr. Anderson scored his second Broadway hit, a series of four one-act comedies (also directed by Schneider) about a playwright who is having a hard time reconciling his own prudishness with his desire to write honestly about sex. Titled “You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running,” it ran for more than 750 performances from 1967 to 1969, and aside from drawing enthusiastic reviews, it anticipated what became a trend: nudity onstage.

In the play, the playwright has imagined a scene in which a character delivers the title line as he emerges nude from a bathroom while shaving. An actor, desperate for a part, begins to strip to prove he will play the role, embarrassing the playwright. As eventually staged, the actor Martin Balsam played the scene in the not-entirely-altogether, but shortly after the show closed, the critic Walter Kerr, writing in The New York Times Magazine, credited (or blamed) Mr. Anderson for a spate of shows (including “Hair”) that had turned the exposure of flesh onstage from a provocation into a yawn.

“Today the preposterous is simply commonplace, and if Mr. Anderson’s little conceit is still playing anywhere it must seem quaint indeed, fud-duddy-ish even,” Kerr wrote. “All that fuss about no feathers? Silly.”

Robert Woodruff Anderson was born in New York City on April 28, 1917. His father was a business executive whom he drew on for his intractable male characters. He was sent to Phillips Exeter Academy, which he described as a lonely experience and where he fell in love with an older woman, all of which was grist for “Tea and Sympathy.”

Mr. Anderson received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Harvard, and he served in the Pacific in the Navy during World War II. On his return he adapted plays, movies and novels for radio and television and taught playwriting for the American Theater Wing.

He was married twice, first to Phyllis Stohl, a director and playwright’s agent. She died of cancer in 1956, and his care of her over several years was the material for a 1973 novel, “After.”

Mr. Anderson married the actress Teresa Wright in 1959. They divorced in 1978. Mr. Anderson had no children. In addition to his stepson, Mr. Busch, who lives in Indianapolis, he is survived by a stepdaughter, Mary-Kelly Busch, of Clinton, Conn.

  • Correction: February 11, 2009
  • Because of a production error, the obituaries page was omitted in some editions on Tuesday. An obituary about the playwright Robert Anderson, known for his drama “Tea and Sympathy,” and an article about a Broadway memorial tribute to the theater owner and producer Gerald Schoenfeld can be found at nytimes.com/obituaries.
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