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Group Theatre

(1931–41), The House of Connelly, Success Story, Man in White, Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing!

American theatre company. Founded by Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, and Cheryl Crawford, and based in New York, it was an offshoot of the Theatre Guild, and planned as a permanent acting company committed to the highest ideals of professionalism in all aspects of theatre work. It encouraged new writers, and sought new plays which expressed some of the social and artistic ideals of its members. It took the Moscow Art Theatre as its model, and Lee Strasberg was particularly instrumental in introducing Konstantin Stanislavsky's theories of acting to the company, which he later expanded in the Actors' Studio where he taught the principles of ‘Method’ acting. Though the company failed to establish a permanent theatre, and was finally split apart by internal faction, it none the less had a powerful impact on the American theatre, and in its egalitarian organization, and its commitment to socialist politics, was a forerunner of the Living Theatre and the Open Theatre. The Group Theatre's most notable productions include Paul Green's The House of Connelly (1931); John Howard Lawson's Success Story (1932); Sidney Kingsley's Man in White (1933); three plays by Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty (1935), Awake and Sing! (1935), and Paradise Lost (1935); and Paul Green and Kurt Weill's musical based on Erwin Piscator's The Good Soldier Schweik, under the title of Johnny Johnson (1937). It had an immense critical and popular success with Odets's Golden Boy (1937), and in its last three years produced new plays by Irwin Shaw, The Gentle People (1938) and Retreat to Pleasure (19401), and William Saroyan's My Heart's in the Highlands (1939). Harold Clurman's history of the Group Theatre, The Fervent Years, appeared in 1945.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Francis Edward Grainger Biography to Thomas Anstey Guthrie Biography