TUES • WED • THURS – 7PM F R I • S AT – 8 P M S AT • S U N – 2 P M
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JONATHAN BANK
Check our website www.minttheater.org for more events and updates on times and dates.
SUNDAY JUNE 11TH following the matinee
Sharon Friedman is a Professor at NYU in the Gallatin School. Her publications related to women and theatre include “Feminism As Theme in Twentieth-Century American Women’s Drama” in American Studies. Dr Friedman will discuss Susan and God in the context of Crother’s overall body of work.
Susan and God in Context
Discussions last approximately 50 minutes and are open to the public free of charge.
SATURDAY JUNE 10TH following the matinee Panel Discussion on American Women Playwrights
SATURDAY JUNE 17TH following the matinee Growing up with Rachel Crothers
Three distinguished scholars will discuss the work and careers of Rachel Crothers and other significant American women such as Susan Glaspell, Lillian Hellman, Sophie Treadwell, etc.
Anne Sheffield will share her childhood reminiscences of summers spent in CT with Crothers. Sheffield’s grandmother was Rachel’s long-time companion and Anne is now executor of the Crother’s estate.
Judith Barlow, editor of Plays By American Women, 1900-1930, and Plays By American Women, 1930-1960 and a Professor at SUNY Albany.
RAC HEL C R O THE R S DIRECTED BY
POST-SHOW DISCUSSION PERFORMANCES SELL OUT FIRST. PLEASE CALL RIGHT AWAY TO BOOK TICKETS FOR THESE WEEKEND MATINEES, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FILL MAIL-ORDERS. CALL 212-3150231 FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BOOK YOUR SEATS.
Brenda Murphy, editor of The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights and a professor at the University of CT.
Mint is proud to celebrate our three Drama Desk Award Nominations:
J. Ellen Gainor, author of The Plays of Susan Glaspell: A Contextual Study and a professor at Cornell University.
OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY:
DON’T FORGET: Mint’s Fourth Annual Benefit Celebrating! American Women Playwrights Monday, June 19, 2006 Dinner, performance and reception: $150 per person Performance and reception: $100 per person Dinner at Le Madeleine Restaurant 403 West 43rd Street . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6:00pm Raffle Prize Viewing at Mint Theater 311 West 43rd Street . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7:30pm Program at Mint Theater 311 West 43rd Street . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8:00pm Guest stars Carolyn McCormick, Byron Jennings and a cast of Mint friends read Act I of The Leading Lady by Ruth Gordon. Broadway star Mary Testa sings selections from the neverperformed musical adaptation of Carson McCullers’ Member of the Wedding by Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer. Wine and Sweets Reception and Raffle Drawing After the Performance
Soldier’s Wife Panel moderator will be Susan Jonas, co-editor of Dramaturgy in American Theatre: A Source Book and co-author of the New York State Council on the Arts report assessing the status of women in the theater.
OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY:
Judith Hawking (Soldier’s Wife) OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN OF A PLAY:
Roger Hanna (Walking Down Broadway)
OPAL ALLADIN HEIDI ARMBRUSTER
Raffle Tickets: $20 each or 6 for $100 Fabulous prizes include: Dinner for two at the hot new restaurants Aquaterra and Telepan Handpainted pottery by Mexican national treasure Salvador Vasquez Six-month membership at the Excelsior Athletic Club
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Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday at 7pm Friday-Saturday at 8pm & Saturday-Sunday at 2pm
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SUSAN AND GOD IS SUPPORTED IN PART BY AN AWARD FROM THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS .
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SUSAN AND GOD By Rachel Crothers BY
RACHEL CRO THER S
“Rachel Crothers is back on Broadway! Sing Hallelujah!”
A high spirited spiritual comedy Susan has just come home from her latest European caper wearing the most fashionable spirituality —and of course she looks Divine. The only question is: can she practice what she preaches? She’s put to the test when the one person who puts his faith in her is her alcoholic husband; he’s ready to reform, but she’s ready to divorce. SUSAN AND GOD was inspired by the Oxford Group, an early 20th century religious movement that helped to give birth to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps.
“A whacking good evening in the theater.” Morning Telegraph, 1937 MINT THEATER COMPANY: LOST PLAYS FOUND HERE The award-winning Mint has brought you lost treasures such as: Walking Down Broadway, The Daughter-in-Law, Far and Wide and Echoes of the War.
That’s how one critic greeted Susan and God, Rachel Crothers’ triumphant return to Broadway in 1937. After a five year absence, audience and critics rejoiced to see the “first lady” of American playwrights back where she belonged.
Susan and God marked the culmination of Crothers’ career as both playwright and director. For over thirty years, her plays had lit up the Great White Way. Now, with Susan and God, she once again reigned supreme. The play’s initial run lasted 288 performances. John Golden, Crothers’ longtime producer, considered it her best work; he boasted that Susan and God played to sold-out houses with 20 standees a night. The National Arts Club voted Susan and God the season’s most outstanding play and awarded Crothers its Gold Medal. Burns Mantle included it in his yearly anthology of Best Plays. In 1938, selections from Susan and God were the first dramatic scenes broadcast on television, still an experimental medium. In 1943, the play was chosen to open City Center, with Gertrude Lawrence reprising her role as Susan. Audiences were charmed by the endearingly selfish Susan, a socialite who embraces a new religious philosophy while abroad and returns home eager to change everyone around her. “Although all her friends recognize the insecurity of her prattle,” writes Brooks Atkinson in his 1937 New York Times review, “her drunken husband in a moment of abject despair thinks that perhaps she means what she says and that by faith he can pull himself up by his bootstrap.” He’s ready to reform, but she’s ready to divorce. Confronted with her husband’s sincere efforts, Susan must learn the difference between public facade and personal faith. On one level, Susan and God satirizes the trendier aspects of the Oxford Group, a religious movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Pre-dating the spiritual trends of our day, the Oxford Group inspired everything from evangelical soirees to the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Satire was not Crothers’ main goal, however. World War II loomed on the horizon.
Crothers understood the longing for certainty in an increasingly uncertain world. Explaining her reasons for writing the play, her words resonate today as powerfully as they did in 1937: It seemed to me that in this sick world, heartbroken over its own failures, that side by side with more universal horror than the world has ever known, there is a more universal hunger and reaching out for a spiritual healing, a wider search for the Infinite Truth that can answer our fumbling questions and help us to go on believing in Goodness—in God. The result, voiced one Los Angeles critic, was “a real miracle play...a miracle of today, of a divine truth which penetrated the lacquer finish of those sophisticates who pride themselves on the strict maintenance of a scoffing mood.” The New York World Telegraph declared Crothers’ comedy “a play that will rejoice your heart.” Stark Young deemed Susan and God “significant, profound, charming, and rightly theatric.” Citing the play’s scintillating dialogue and deft characterization, Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times ranked Crothers among “the front rank of theatre writers…Miss Crothers knows how to write a play that works.”
“Biting, sensible, comic, warming, delicious.” (Morning Telegraph, 1937)
“Although it is rare now to find anyone who has heard of her,” The New York Times writes in 1980, “Miss Crothers at the apex of her career was a symbol of success in the commercial theater. Between 1906 and 1937, she saw close to 30 of her plays open on Broadway.” Mint is excited to call attention to the remarkable career of one of America’s most successful and talented playwrights.
Susan and God remains a miracle play for our own time. Please don’t miss this rare production of a poignant comedy about the search for certainty in an uncertain world.
R a c h e l Crothers (1878-1958) was born in Bloomington, Illinois. When her mother embarked on a medical career, Crothers was sent to live with an aunt in Massachusetts. She learned early about the struggle to balance a career with family life. The lesson would prove a recurrent theme in her plays. In 1896, Crothers moved to New York. After one term as a student at Stanhope and Wheatcroft School of Acting, she was hired as a teacher. She began to write and direct her own plays. When Nora (1903), a one-act about a widowed actress’s battle to keep her son, debuted at the school, one critic predicted “a new dramatic author may have arrived.”
Nora imitates the work of Ibsen and Strindberg, but Crothers gradually grew confident enough to recast the “problem play” in a distinctly American idiom. A Man’s World (1910), heralded as “the first great American play,” followed a young woman’s struggle to establish an artistic career while raising an adopted son. During World War I, she wrote “gladness plays”—sentimental comedies with melodramatic overtones. One of these, A Little Journey (1918), was nominated for the Pulitzer. Her postwar output abandoned sentimentality in favor of realism and social issues. Nice People (1921) examined the flapper phenomenon and provided Tallulah Bankhead and Katherine Cornell with their first important roles. Crothers’ plays revolve around the everyday challenges facing women—getting a job, becoming independent, raising a family. She sympathized with various women’s movements, but never allied herself with them. She was criticized for being apolitical, she was called old-fashioned—but she managed to survive thirty-one years on Broadway. Toward the end of her life, Crothers focused on charity work. During War World II, she helped found the American Theater Wing and contributed to its relief work overseas. Crothers died in her sleep at her Connecticut home on July 5, 1958.
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