The ReGroup Theatre Company Presents 1931-, 10/4-21
After an 80-year absence from the stage, The ReGroup Theatre Company presents 1931-, Claire & Paul Sifton's gritty tale of the Great Depression era. Allie Mulholland directs a cast of thirteen ReGroup members, including George Bartenieff (4 Obie Awards; Film: Julia & Julia; TV: 30 Rock, Law & Order), Carly J. Bauer, Nic Davies, Stephen Dexter, Matt Giroveanu, Daniel Hainsworth, Avé M. Lindon, Pete McElligott (Backstage magazine's 10 Memorable performances of 2011 for Johnny Johnson directed by Estelle Parsons), Kelsey Moore, Mateo Prendergast, Kofi Boakye, Shelley Valfer, and Shawn Verrier. 1931- will run for fourteen performances from October 4-21, 2012 at The Living Theatre, 21 Clinton Street (between East Houston & Stanton) in New York City.
1931- is the story of Adam, who is fired from his warehouse job. Proud and determined, Adam sets out to find another job, only to discover hundreds of other men in the same situation. Without a paycheck, Adam soon realizes how much he has to lose: health, dignity, hope, and possibly even the young shop girl he loves. 1931- it is the story of all the men and women, young and old, in Adam's situation. They sleep in the parks, beg for coins and even turn to crime when there seems to be no other option. When their story comes to a head, there seems only one way left to turn: revolution.
1931- was the second play produced by The Group Theatre, the most famous American theatre company, which existed from 1931-1940, featuring the talents of Lee Strasberg, Clifford Odets, Stella Adler, & Sanford Meisner. The original production lasted 12 performances, though the stories of the amazed reaction of the "balcony crowd," whose story was being depicted onstage, are legendary. The upper-class orchestra-set rejected the play for its alleged sensationalism.
The ReGroup Theatre Company presented 1931- as a staged reading in 2010 and was struck by the overwhelming response the play stirred in the audience. Many questioned whether the play had been updated to reflect our modern times, specifically the Occupy Wall Street movement, but not a word has been updated.
Out-of-print for 75+ years, ReGroup Artistic Director Allie Mulholland copied 1931- word by word from the Labor Library Collection. After obtaining permission from the Sifton family, The ReGroup published the play in 2011 in The "Lost" Group Theatre Plays: Volume 1.
Allie Mulholland (director) is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has trained under Lauri Peters, Larry Moss, Anne Jackson & Austin Pendleton. He originated the lead role in the 50th Anniversary stage production of Rebel Without a Cause off-Broadway. After 2 years of intense research and study, including reading over 1,000 plays, he formed the ReGroup Theatre Company. ReGroup credits include playing David Charleston in Thunder Rock, Solomon Ginsberg in Success Story, Dr. Gordon in Men in White, Ed Bonney in Big Night, Elliott Snowden in Gentlewoman, Capt Valentine in Johnny Johnson and directing Paradise Lost and The House of Connelly. He produced The Group Theatre's 80th Anniversary Tribute at Symphony Space which featured performances of scenes from all 23 Group Theatre plays. Besides directing several scenes, he appeared in the title role in Golden Boy. He appeared on all 4 soaps that filmed in NY and can currently be seen showing his 'versatility' on the Investigation Discover channel in Scorned: Love Kills.
Claire and Paul F. Sifton (playwrights) wrote several plays including The Belt (produced by The Theatre Guild in 1927), 1931- (produced in London under the title The Age of Plenty in 1933), Fame and Fortune, The Doctors, In the Meantime, The Pift and Blood on the Moon. When the latter was performed in London in 1933, the production was halted by Lord Chamberlain because it was deemed to be an unfriendly act toward Germany. Their 1930 play, Midnight became a film featuring Humphrey Bogart. Mr. Sifton voluntarily enlisted for service in World War I in 1917 and served as a Private, first class, in the American Expeditionary Forces. The following year, he was on the front lines when the Germans launched their last ditch assault, and he was incapacitated during a gas attack. He contracted tuberculosis and, as a result, had to have part of a lung removed. He became a political writer for the National Farmers Union after World War II and met Walter Reuther, then U.A.W. vice president, during the1945 strike at General Motors. Mr. Sifton became the Washington representative for Democratic Action. He joined forces with Mr. Reuther and such liberals as former Senator Paul H. Douglas, Joseph L. Raub, and Clarence P. Mitchell of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to outline strategies for civil rights and welfare bills. He combined writing skill and political acumen to argue for progressive economic and civil rights policies for more than 30 years. Mrs. Sifton (born Claire Ginsburg in Rio de Janiero) was the daughter of missionaries and attended schools in Brazil before coming to the States to enroll at Stephens College. Claire and Paul were married in 1922 after meeting at the University of Missouri, where Claire received a graduate degree and became the first female instructor in journalism. Claire was also a specialist on children's education and was the author of The Perfect Baby, a book about childcare. She belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution but withdrew from the group in the dispute over Marian Anderson, the black concert singer, in 1939. During the1940's and 50's, Mrs. Sifton was associated with the United States Children's Bureau in Washington.
The Regroup Theatre Company was created in 2010 with the mission to produce "great plays" as defined by The Group Theatre as plays which are "propaganda for a better life." The ReGroup believes that entertaining the audience is not enough; the audience must also have an experience. By focusing on theatre's unique gifts - heightened dialogue, creative movement, controlled speech, stylized visuals and communion with a live audience - they hope to blow the years of dust off these plays and make them "awake and sing" once again. In turn, they hope to inspire new playwrights to write material in this surging larger-than-life nature that will have social impact and relevance. The ReGroup also aims to create an alternative production system, one that was proposed by The Group Theatre. Under the current commercial paradigm of American Theatre, if plays are not an immediate financial success, their message is not afforded the time to be seen and heard. By structuring ourselves as an organization more akin to the ballet or even the opera, mainly supported by sponsorship and donors, we can offer a public service that reaps success in terms of overall effectiveness, with monetary success a lesser consideration. Until the United States has a National Theatre, we hope to help fill the void. Members of the company's Board of Advisers include Angelica Page, Estelle Parsons, Austin Pendleton, Molly Regan, Susan Rowland, José Angel Santana, Lois Smith, Wendy Smith and Frances Sternhagen, among others.
The Living Theatre
21 Clinton Street (bet. East Houston & Stanton)
New York, NY 10002