Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dreyfus in Rehearsal

One of the first plays I reviewed was "Dreyfus in Rehearsal," which was about a troup of amateur actors in a small town in Poland rehearsing a play about the Dreyfus Affair, about which they knew surprisingly little. The action takes place in 1931 when flames of anti-semitism are being fanned all over Europe.

That original production, which opened in the fall of 1974, starred Sam Levene and Ruth Gordon. It had an actor named Allan Arbus (who, though he had a very strong career, will probably always be better known as the husband of Diane.) It also had a young actress named Tovah Feldshuh.

"Dreyfus" was produced by David Merrick, part of a long collaboration he had with writer/director Garson Kanin, who adapted the play from the French of a playwright named Jean-Claude Grumberg. I don't remember what I wrote 35 years ago, but I do remember praising the drop curtain by Boris Aronson in the style of Marc Chagall, a poetic evocation of the richness and tenuousness of European Jewish life. Like the sets for most flops ("Dreyfus" barely ran two weeks), I suspect it was just taken out and burned. Today there would be any number of museums thrilled to have it.

Source: Dreyfus

No comments: