Group Theatre


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Group Theatre,

organization formed in New York City in 1931 by Harold ClurmanClurman, Harold
, 1901–80, American director, manager, critic, and author, b. New York City. In his early years he acted in minor roles, becoming associated with New York's Group Theatre as founder and managing director in 1931.
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, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee StrasbergStrasberg, Lee
, 1901–82, American theatrical director, teacher, and actor, b. Budzanów, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Budaniv, Ukraine) as Israel Strassberg. Strasberg immigrated to New York City in 1909. He was a cofounder in 1931 of the Group Theatre.
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. Its founders, who had worked earlier with the Provincetown PlayersProvincetown Players,
American theatrical company that first introduced the plays of Eugene O'Neill. The company opened with his Bound East for Cardiff at the Wharf Theatre, Provincetown, on Cape Cod in 1916 and later worked in New York City in conjunction with the
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, wished to revive and redefine American theater by establishing a permanent company to present contemporary plays of social significance and by developing the theaterical arts, in particular, that of acting. Under Strasberg's tutelage, the actors explored the interior techniques based on StanislavskyStanislavsky, Constantin
, 1863–1938, Russian theatrical director, teacher, and actor, whose original name was Constantin Sergeyevich Alekseyev. He was cofounder with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko of the Moscow Art Theater in 1898, which he would remain associated with for
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's teachings that evolved into the American Method style of acting. Although never financially secure, the group was recognized as a vital theatrical force. It was at its height between 1935 and 1937, when it produced Awake and Sing, Waiting for Lefty, and Golden Boy, all by Clifford OdetsOdets, Clifford
, 1906–63, American dramatist, b. Philadelphia. After graduating from high school he became an actor and in 1931 joined the Group Theatre. Turning his attention from acting to playwriting, Odets soon came to be regarded as the most gifted of the American
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. In 1937, Clurman became sole director. Although the group disbanded in 1941, its influence was great; many of its members became prominent actors, teachers, and directors.

Bibliography

See H. Clurman, The Fervent Years (1945).

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