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 You can’t take it with you Moss hart & George S. Kaufman artist note: Eric Peterson I started off with a pretty modest opinion of this play. I worried that, with its gentle humor, loving relationships and sentimental, improbable plot, it might be too old fashioned; too far from the raucous profanity and violence of entertainment tastes today. These concerns become irrelevant the more we work on the piece. The company of people working on the production allow me to see that this is in fact a beautifully crafted play with an amazing generosity in its storytelling and themes. And each day brings new discoveries as these characters come to life, emerging from the bodies and imaginations of these wonderful actors: Essie’s on her toes, Ed is playing the xylophone; inspiration is happening all over the place. The snakes can move and the explosions are hilarious. Director Joe is moved to tears discussing the confrontation of Father and Son. I’m almost weeping myself watching him. I start to realize this is the first old guy I’ve played, since I started playing old guys, that isn’t grouchy, and angry; who is happy and brave. A bit of a stretch for me. The longer I work on it the more I realize that this is in fact theatre of the spirit. Its ambition is to engage the imagination of the audience in a contemplation of courage and hope. The writers wanted us to be able to come to the theatre burdened by the state of the world (and who isn’t these days) and leave revived in spirit and a little more hopeful.

Eric Peterson, Grandpa in You Can’t Take It With You

a message from the artistic director Eric Peterson is a remarkable artist and a remarkable man. He is simultaneously sweet, goofy and intense, incredibly smart and articulate, and very, very funny. He is also one of the greatest actors I have ever worked with or seen. There are actors who “set” a performance and bring it in night after night. Some of these actors are extremely good. Then there is the very rare actor who engages all of his considerable technique at the service of the inspiration of this moment. These actors are always brilliantly alive, a thrill to watch and an absolute joy to work with. Eric Peterson is the best of these. Every single day before rehearsal, Eric comes upstairs to the administration offices and, in a whirlwind Royal Tour, greets each member of the staff leaving joy and laughter in his wake. Soulpepper has been so fortunate to be a part of Eric’s life and art for the last few years, and we look forward to much more.

Albert Schultz, Artistic Director


illustration: brian Rea

You can't take it with you Moss Hart & George S. Kaufman usa 1936

production

cast

Joseph Ziegler director

Brian Bisson Man 1

Mike Ross Ed

Christina Poddubiuk set & costume designer

Derek Boyes Paul

Andre Sills Donald

Steven Hawkins lighting designer

Raquel Duffy Gay wellington

Michael Simpson Mr. de Pinna

Richard Feren Sound Designer

Patricia Fagan Essie

Maria Vacratsis Olga

Nancy Dryden production stage manager

John Jarvis Mr. Kirby

Tim Ziegler Henderson/Man 2

Janet Gregor assistant stage manager Ben Bavington apprentice stage manager

Diego Matamoros Kolenkhov Nancy Palk Penny Krystin Pellerin Alice

Kelly McEvenue alexander coach

Eric Peterson grandpa

John Stead fight Director

Gregory Prest Tony

Robert McCollum Dance Instructor

Brenda Robins Mrs. Kirby

Jordan Merkur assistant director

Sabryn Rock Rheba

production sponsor

You Can’t Take It With You is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. The audio and/or video recording of this performance by any means whatsoever is strictly prohibited. There will be one 20-minute intermission. Approximate running time 2 hours and 20 minutes.


background notes George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart had a profound effect on American theatre. Both wrote and directed, both collaborated with luminaries like Kurt Weill, the Gershwins, and Irving Berlin, and for a brief time both even tried their hand at running a theatre in New York. Each man’s work encompassed dramas, classic comedies, and major musicals (Hart won a Tony Award for his direction of My Fair Lady, and Kaufman won a Tony for his direction of Guys and Dolls). Both also wrote for film: among Kaufman’s credits are several Marx Brothers movies, on Hart’s resumé is the screenplay for A Star is Born, which starred Judy Garland. Kaufman was more famous than Hart when they got together: a bespectacled, gloomylooking sort of fellow who rarely smiled but was known for his way with women and his way with a wisecrack. To wit: When I invite a woman to dinner, I expect her to look at my face. That’s the price she has to pay. Hart was more outwardly buoyant but he quietly suffered from bouts of depression. As a young man he worked in the Catskills and wrote big sprawling ambitious dramas, inspired by his idol, Eugene O’Neill. After a pile of rejections, Hart decided to give producers the comedy they kept asking for, teaming with Broadway veteran Kaufman. In 1930 their first collaboration, Once in a Lifetime, was an instant hit. You Can’t Take it with You, their most popular play, followed in 1936. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and the film adaptation starring Jimmy Stewart garnered two Academy Awards, one for director Frank Capra and the other for Best Picture. There are many signature Kaufman/Hart touches here: numerous characters, chaotic activity (fireworks in the basement! ballet in the living room! tax audit in the dining room!) and sharp, witty dialogue. It’s a light-hearted comedy but the underlying dramatic structure is rock-solid, the characters are tenderly and deftly drawn and the writers are in masterful control of all the mayhem. This 75 year old comedy is still being produced for many reasons, not least because at its heart it’s about family: how it shapes and embarrasses, grounds and defines us. The Sycamores may be a little more eccentric than average but who can’t relate to poor Alice’s dilemma of loving her family but not being sure anybody else will? Who can’t identify with these reckless yet recognizable characters whose passions and problems are all connected to a search for happiness and meaning in their lives? In You Can’t Take it With You, and other plays, Kaufman and Hart defined a new kind of American comedy: fast and furious, zinging with one-liners, anchored by real feeling. Generations of American playwrights and television sit com writers were influenced by their madcap style, but few achieved the delicate, almost swashbuckling fusion of heart and humour on offer here. This is the source. Biography You Can’t Take It With You (1936) was the third collaboration between renowned Broadway playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. It was an instant success, playing for 837 performances and winning the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The 1938 film adaptation was also a hit and won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year. Kaufman had his Broadway debut in 1918 with the melodrama Someone in the House – and notably, in every Broadway season from 1921 through 1958, there was a play written or directed by Kaufman. Moss Hart is best known for his interpretations of musical theatre on Broadway, but like Kaufman, also directed and wrote for the stage. The duo scored a number of other successful productions including Once in a Lifetime (1930) and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939).

Background Notes by Associate Artist Paula Wing.


souLPePPer Production Jacqueline Robertson-Cull head of hair & makeup

Geoff Hughes Joanne Lamberton Susan Dick and Co.

Lisa Farinaccio

Natalie Swierz

sewer

dresser

Mike Keays

Barbara Nowakowski

Greg Chambers

carpenter

1st hand

props builder

Paul Boddum

Kaz Maxine

Erika Connor

painter

millinery

hair & make-up

cutters

Janet Pym

wardrobe coordinator

Duncan Johnstone Daniela Mazic scenic artists

soulpepper thanKs: Gwendolyn Neelin & Katie McPhee (wardrobe co-op students),The Shoe Room. Soulpepper Theatre Company is an active member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (pact), the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (tapa) and Theatre Ontario, and engages, under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement, professional artists who are members of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. Scenic Artists and Set Decorators employed by Soulpepper Theatre Company are represented by Local 828 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

YounG centre for the PerforMinG arts distiLLerY historic district


You Can't Take It With You - Playbill