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Harold Clurman Chronology

For other pages about Harold Clurman visit the following links:
| Harold Clurman Biography | Chronology | Harold Clurman's reflections | Plays Directed | What Harold Clurman Means to Us Today | Letter from President Jimmy Carter |



Harold Clurman is born at the corner of Rivington and Essex streets on the lower East Side of Manhattan on September 18th. He has three brothers. His family eventually settles in the Bronx.


His father takes him to see Jacob P. Adler, the greatest Yiddish-speaking actor of the day, in Uriel Acosta.


Interrupting his studies at Columbia, he goes to Paris and studies at the Sorbonne, receiving a degree in letters, and a diploma at the school of Jacques Copeau at the Theatre du Vieux Colombier. His roommate is Aaron Copland. Seeing Isadora Duncan perform, he wrote: I considered her "a seminal force. Watching her, I experienced something close to fear and exaltation."


Returning to New York, Clurman makes his stage debut in The Saint at the Greenwich Village Theatre for The Provincetown Players, headed by Kenneth McGowan, Robert Edmond Jones and Eugene O'Neill.


Hired as a spear carrier in Caesar and Cleopatra at the Theatre Guild, where he meets Lee Strasberg, who is also acting there. Thus begins many months of talking together about their dissatisfaction about the theatre of the day. Clurman also studies at the American Laboratory Theatre with Richard Bolaslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya, former members of the Moscow Art Theatre. He also meets Stella Adler, the daughter of Jacob Adler at the Laboratory Theatre. Clurman shares his ideas with his assistant stage manager, Cheryl Crawford.


Working on Waldo Frank's New Year's Eve, Clurman and Strasberg begin to discuss the idea of forming their own theatre. Clurman has begun a romantic relationship with Stella Adler.


Appointed as play-reader for the Theatre Guild.


Beginning at 11:15 every Friday night Clurman begins a series of talks in his hotel room about the theatre for 25 weeks. "I gave an overall picture of the theatre suggesting that it be moral and spiritual. The dam burst. I realized that I fascinated people with my energy and assertiveness. As I practiced, I became aroused to a fury. Bobby Lewis gave me the name 'The Fury.' As Aline MacMahon said, "I talked the Group into existence."


Invitations are sent out by Clurman, Strasberg and Crawford, now co-artistic directors to 28 actors, including Stella Adler, Phoebe Brand, Morris Carnovsky, Robert Lewis, Sanford Meisner, Ruth Nelson, Clifford Odets, and Franchot Tone for membership in the new theatre company, founded to convey "the life of our times" and the actors are trained as an ensemble using Stanislavski's techniques. They travel to Brookfield, Connecticut for the summer to rehearse Paul Green's The House of Connelly, actors about the theatre's tradition. In September, the play opens on Broadway, and their work is hailed as "the greatest acting ensemble since the Moscow Art Masters came to New York."


Four more plays are presented by the Group Theatre, including Success Story and Men in White by Sidney Kingsley, which wins the Pulitzer Prize. In the middle of the Depression, with little money and no play to do, Clurman joins Strasberg, and nine other actors and lives in a ten room cold-water flat on West 57th street, affectionately called "Groupstroy."


Clurman and Stella Adler travel to Russia. They see productions by the Moscow Art Theatre, Meyerhold's Biomechanics, and Solomon Mikhoels in King Lear. They then travel to Paris, meeting Constantin Stanislavski. Clurman returns to New York, while Adler is invited by Stanislavski to study with him for five weeks. The Group Theatre opens Gold Eagle Guy in Boston and then in New York. Adler returns that summer and gives classes to the Group actors based on her studies with Stanislavsky.


Clifford Odets' Waiting for Lefty is performed at the Civic Repertory Theatre in New York City, as noted by Clurman: "an event to be noted in the annals of the American Theatre." Clurman directs Odets' Awake and Sing at age 34, and Paradise Lost. Clurman and Cheryl Crawford travel to Russia, seeing 35 plays in five weeks, meeting Stanislavsky and Meyerhold again. Clurman reads his Soviet Diary to the Group at two different occasions upon his return.


Group Theatre is reorganized with Clurman as Managing Director. Group Theatre performs The Case of Clyde Griffiths. Clurman travels to Hollywood, to visit Odets and Franchot Tone. Clurman returns to New York and the Group produces its only musical, Johnny Johnson on Broadway. Stanislavski's An Actor Prepares in published in America.


Rehearses Odets' Silent Partner, which is never produced. Group actors present an Actors Committee paper to the three Group directors and Strasberg and Crawford resign. Clurman and Stella Adler travel to Hollywood, where he directs his only film, Deadline at Dawn, written by Odets, starring Susan Hayward. While there, he begins writing The Fervent Years, widely regarded as the embodiment of the history of the Group Theatre and its times. Stella Adler changes her last name to Ardler to act in films. A studio executive asks Elia Kazan, who is also in Hollywood, to change his name to Cezanne. Clurman returns to New York and directs Odets' newest play, Golden Boy, which becomes the Group's biggest hit.


Appoints Stella Adler as director of the Golden Boy California production. The Group presents Golden Boy in London. Awake and Sing is revived on Broadway. Clurman directs Odets' Rocket to the Moon on Broadway. In his continuing talks, Clurman emphasizes "the continuity of effort signifying the building of tradition, the foundation of a true culture.without some dependence on his tradition, the artist starts his new work with an always decreasing stock, till he ends with a shadow or memory of himself, not a consummation. We lack memory. We cancel our experience."


Directs Irwin Shaw's The Gentle People. In the summer, he begins rehearsals on The Three Sisters with Group actors, which is never produced. The war begins in Europe.


Directs Odets Night Music on Broadway, and with final Group production, Retreat to Pleasure, the Group Theatre closes.


Marries Stella Adler in a simple ceremony. Directs Konstantin Simonov's The Russian People, adapted by Clifford Odets; and Beggars Are Coming to Town by Theodore Reeves. He also directs Maxwell Anderson's Truckline Café (and also co-produced), casting Marlon Brando, who is recommended by his teacher, Stella Adler. The play is unsuccessful, but Brando's performance is recognized. Directs Konstantin Simonov's The Whole World Over, adapted by Thlema Schnee and Richard Nash's The Young and Fair with Julie Harris. Co-produces Arthur Miller's All My Sons on Broadway, which wins the Drama Critics Award. In September of 1947, The Actors Studio opens its doors, as a "workshop for professional actors," founded by Cheryl Crawford, Elia Kazan, and Bobby Lewis.


Travels to Tel Aviv and directs Emmanuel Robles' Montserrat. Begins writing for the weekly magazine, "The New Republic," continuing for the next four years. Directs Arthur Laurents' The Bird Cage.


Directs Carson McCuller's The Member of the Wedding, with Ethel Waters, Julie Harris, and Brandon de Wilde, winning the Donaldson Award for best director. Around this time, he begins teaching late evening classes. those attending these late evening sessions include Colleen Dewhurst, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Kim Stanley, Julie Harris, Elizabeth Wilson, Elaine Stritch, and Maureen Stapleton.


Directs Lillian Hellman's The Autumn Garden, the revival of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, Arthur Laurents' The Time of the Cuckoo, George Tabori's The Emperor's Clothes. Begins writing for the weekly magazine, "The Nation". Directs Jean Anouilh's Mademoiselle Colombe.


Directs William Inge's Bus Stop with Kim Stanley and Elaine Stritch.


Directs Jean Giraudoux's Tiger at the Gates, translated by Christopher Fry (in London and New York), with Michael Redgrave; Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's musical, Pipe Dream; the revival of Jean Anouilh's farce, The Waltz of the Toreadors with Ralph Richardson and Mildred Natwick; Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending with Maureen Stapleton, Lois Smith and Cliff Robertson; The Day the Money Stopped by Maxwell Anderson and Brendan Gill; the revival of The Cold Wind and the Warm with Eli Wallach and Maureen Stapleton; and Eugene O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet with Kim Stanley, Helen Hayes and Eric Portman. Receives first George Jean Nathan Award as Drama Critic for "The Nation," and for his book, Lies Like Truth.


Travels to Tel Aviv to direct George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra.


Marries Juleen Compton, an actress/filmmaker half his age. Directs Jean Anouilh's Jeanette, the revival of Shaw's Heartbreak House, A Shot in the Dark by Harry Kurnitz and Marcel Archard, Jean Giraudoux's Judith, translated by Christopher Fry (in London).


Directs Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy, with Joseph Wiseman, Hal Holbrook and David Wayne (his 8th collaboration with Robert Whitehead as producer) at The Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center. Financed by a grant from the U.S. State Department, Clurman brings a cast of American actors: Roy Scheider, Ruth White, William Prince and Ira Levin, to Tokyo, and directs them in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. He then directs the Kumo Theatre Company of Japan in the same play. He receives the Legion d'Honneur from the French Government.


Directs William Inge's Where's Daddy? Returns to Tokyo to direct The Iceman Cometh. Directs Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya with Joseph Wiseman at The Mark Taper Form in Los Angeles.


Begins his association as a professor at Hunter College in New York City, where he will teach courses on the theatre for the next decade. On Directing is published.


A collection of his essays is published, entitled The Divine Pastime. His autobiography, All People are Famous is published. It ends with ".I believe that life is essentially irrational, but I also believe that human beings must use their reason - with due recognition of its limitations. I believe that men and women may not be perfectible, but they must act as if they were. I believe that although we may not possess free will, we must behave as if we did. I believe life terrible and glorious."


As the grand young man of the American theatre, a theatre is named in his honor on West 42nd Street - the Harold Clurman Theatre. His last book, Ibsen is published. He teaches in the Playwrights Unit at The Actors Studio and begins work on a major critical study of Eugene O'Neill. The play takes place at this time. Harold Clurman (who was born on September 18th, 1901, dies on September 9th, 1980 in New York City.


The Essential Harold Clurman (Commentary on Theatre, Acting, Directing, Criticism and Playwriting) is published by Applause Books. Aaron Copland writes: "Our finest writer on the theatre. To read Clurman, is to view the art of theatre with a new sense of elation."

Timeline created by Ronald Rand

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For other pages about Harold Clurman visit the following links:
| Harold Clurman Biography | Chronology | Harold Clurman's Reflections | Plays Directed | What Harold Clurman Means to Us Today | Letter from President Jimmy Carter |




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