Harold Clurman

Hoofers and helmers

The theater’s intellectual, Clurman served on both sides of the aisles, first as director, then as critic. He was taken to the Yiddish theater by his parents when he was 6, and “it was a transforming experience,” he recalled. The Yiddish theater and the community of actors in it would long influence Clurman. Enlightened by the theories of acting by Constantin Stanislavsky, he believed in a permanent company of actors performing in repertory. He believed in creating great theater. As one of the founders of the Group Theater, he directed Clifford Odets’ best works, from “Awake and Sing!” to “Golden Boy.” “The theater must have something to say. It must relate to society,” he believed. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he was a constant presence on Broadway, staging the original productions of “The Member of the Wedding,” “The Time of the Cuckoo,” “Bus Stop,” “Waltz of the Toreadors,” “Orpheus Descending,” “Touch of the Poet,” “A Shot in the Dark” and “Incident at Vichy.” His influence and vision so helped shape American theater that among his honors is a rare one: a Broadway theater is named after him.

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