Mint Theater Reveals EnrichMINT Events for LONDON WALL
Mint Theater today announced the EnrichMINT Events for their next production, London Wall by John Van Druten. All events take place immediately after the performance, and usually last under an hour. They are all FREE and open to the public. Speakers and dates subject to change without notice.
JOHN VAN DRUTEN: SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL
Saturday, February 8, after the matinee
Maya Cantu is a dramaturg, scholar and theater historian devoted to the revitalization of forgotten classics. She is currently completing her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at Yale School of Drama. Maya is Mint Theater's Dramaturgical Adviser and the author of the Van Druten biography that appears in our program.
WILLIAM J. MANN
AUTHOR OF BEHIND THE SCREEN: HOW GAYS AND LESBIANS SHAPED HOLLYWOOD
Sunday, February 9, after the matinee
John Van Druten's identity as both a gay man and talented playwright led to his becoming part of a circle of eminent gay writers living in California during the 1940s and 50s, gathered around British author Christopher Isherwood. William J. Mann will discuss Van Druten's identity and significance as a gay writer. Mann is a novelist, biographer and historian. His biography Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2006.
JULIE K. BEREBITSKY
AUTHOR OF SEX AND THE OFFICE: A HISTORY OF GENDER, POWER AND DESIRE
Saturday, February 15, after the matinee
LONDON WALL offers a look at women's continuing fight to be seen as professional equals in the workplace. Professor Berebitsky's new book, Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power and Desire is the first monograph to historicize our understanding of sexual harassment in the workplace. She currently holds positions as Professor of History and Director of the Women's Studies Program at Sewanee: The University of the South.
MARGARET BOE BIRNS
AUTHOR OF "JOHN VAN DRUTEN" IN THE COLUMBIA ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN DRAMA
Sunday, February 16, after the matinee
Margaret Boe Birns is a lecturer on English, American and European Literature of the 20th and 19th Centuries. She teaches the courses "The Novel Today" and "Masterpieces of 19th Century Fiction" at New York University and "19th Century Masterpieces: Three Great Social Novels" at The New School. She is also a published poet.
JUDITH R. WALKOWITZ
AUTHOR OF NIGHTS OUT: LIFE IN COSMOPOLITAN LONDON
Saturday, February 22, after the matinee
The typists of LONDON WALL muse upon nights "up west" as they manage relationship and workplace pressures. Professor Walkowitz will discuss the lives-and night lives-of London shorthand typists between the wars. Her book Nights Out: Life in Cosmopolitan London reveals how London's Soho district became a showcase for a new cosmopolitan identity in the early to mid-twentieth century. Walkowitz teaches courses in British history and women's history at Johns Hopkins University.
JOHN VAN DRUTEN: A WRITER'S WRITER
FEATURING TREASURES FROM THE JOHN VAN DRUTEN PAPERS
Monday, March 17th at 6pm
PLEASE NOTE: This event takes place at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts?Bruno Walter Auditorium, 65th & Amsterdam
Mint Theater Company and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts collaborate on an intimate celebration of playwright John Van Druten. Excerpts from the author's unpublished essays, letters, diary and plays will be read, exploring Van Druten's relationship with such literary peers as Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood, and Rodgers & Hammerstein. This event is open to the public, no reservations required.
Davis McCallum, who staged the 2012 Pulitzer-Prize winning play Water by the Spoonful at Second Stage, as well as the award-winning production of The Whale at Playwrights Horizons, will direct a cast that includes Julia Coffey, Katie Gibson, Matthew Gumley, Jonathan Hogan, Laurie Kennedy, Elise Kibler, Stephen Plunkett, Christopher Sears, and Alex Trow. This will be the American premiere of John Van Druten's "rivetingly entertaining" (The Guardian) romantic drama. Performances begin February 1st and continue through March 30th. Opening Night is set for Monday February 24th (7pm) at Mint's home (311 West 43rd Street).
London Wall by John Van Druten explores the tumultuous lives and love affairs of the women employed as shorthand typists in a busy solicitor's office in 1930's London. Pat Milligan, a naïve young typist, falls for the charms of a predatory junior lawyer. Watching with concern is the firm's senior secretary, her too-timid suitor and several others in the office. Presiding over all is Mr. Walker, gamely trying to navigate a new kind of office where men and women must work side by side. The play made its premiere in May of 1931 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London and was acclaimed for its hyper-realistic depiction of office life as well as its soulful probing of the dreams and desires of its female characters. "Here is life as it is lived under the pressure of institutions," wrote Ivor Brown in The Observer. "Here are people struggling with things, amusing each other, enraging each other, and enchanting each other."
London Wall recently received an acclaimed revival at London's Finborough Theater, where many responded to how well the play had held up after 82 years. "It hasn't been revived until now, yet comes up fresh as paint," hailed Charles Spencer of The Telegraph, calling London Wall "a fascinating and sometimes deeply touching play." Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard continued the praise saying, "The greatest pleasures lie in Van Druten's perceptive writing, which feels wonderfully fresh...the play itself is a satisfying rediscovery, eloquent about the relationship between work, class and romance."
"The Mint Theater may specialize in unearthing all-but-forgotten plays, but this 1931 comedy by John Van Druten (Bed, Book and Candle, Voice of the Turtle) is a coup even by the company's esoteric standards. The troupe is giving this workplace comedy, which Van Druten apparently based on his own experiences working in a legal office, its United States premiere. It will be directed by the busy Davis McCallum (The Whale, Water by the Spoonful)." - Eric Grode, The New York Times, January 31, 2014
Best known today for his Broadway hits Old Acquaintance, The Voice of the Turtle, I Remember Mama, Bell, Book and Candle, and I Am a Camera (which inspired the musical Cabaret), John Van Druten wrote deftly observed, character-driven plays that ranged from the realistic atmosphere of his early West End plays, to the sentimental charm of his wartime hits, to the daring allurements of his final works. In his early plays, Van Druten became noted for his sensitive portrayals of young romantics and would-be bohemians, as well as for the "truthful naturalism" of his settings. Van Druten's most successful plays during this era include the domestic drama After All (1931), London Wall (1931), for which Van Druten drew upon his personal experience working in a legal office, and the romantic comedy There's Always Juliet (1932). Van Druten enjoyed a transatlantic success that carried him to Hollywood, where he co-wrote such classics as Gaslight, and also contributed (uncredited) to the screenplay of Gone with the Wind.
Van Druten enjoyed phenomenal Broadway success in the WWII era, with a string of critically acclaimed hits. After the effervescent Old Acquaintance (1940), Van Druten wrote the three-character romantic comedy The Voice of the Turtle (1943), which ran for a stunning 1,557 performances. The nostalgic I Remember Mama, based on Kathryn Forbes' novel Mama's Bank Account, similarly moved wartime audiences as an impressionistic "family album." Van Druten's hits continued with Bell, Book and Candle (1950), about a seductive witch secretly practicing sorcery in modern Manhattan. 1951's I Am a Camera, adapted from his close friend Christoper Isherwood's Berlin Stories, provided an iconic role for Julie Harris as the decadent Weimar party girl Sally Bowles. Appreciated in his own lifetime for his "amusing, touching plays, written lightly and expertly, and with beguiling style" (as described by The New York Times' Brooks Atkinson), Van Druten is in the midst of an exciting resurgence sure to stir vivid theatrical memories, as well as to enchant new generations of theater-goers.
"The Mint does for forgotten drama what the Encores! series does for musicals, on far more modest means" (The New York Times). The Mint was awarded an OBIE for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition," and a special Drama Desk Award for "unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit." Ben Brantley, in The New York Times Arts & Leisure hailed the Mint as the "resurrectionist extraordinaire of forgotten plays."
Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Special Wednesday Matinees on February 19th and March 12th at 2pm. PLEASE NOTE: There will be no performances on February 18th and 25th or March 11th. Tickets are $55 with some half-price tickets (CheapTix) and Premium Seats ($65) available for most performances. Performances take place on the Third Floor of 311 West 43rd Street. Tickets are available by calling the Mint box office toll-free at 866-811-4111 or go to www.minttheater.org where you can also see video, photos, and more!