By M. Barranger
From Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers to Arthur Kopit and Brian Friel, agent Audrey wooden inspired and guided the original abilities of playwrights within the Broadway theatre of her day. Her quiet selection and burning enthusiasm introduced America's most interesting mid-century playwrights to prominence and adjusted level background.
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Additional info for Audrey Wood and the Playwrights
5 Tennessee Williams’s first break came in the fall of 1940 when the Theatre Guild optioned Battle of Angels to begin rehearsals as soon as their production of Twelfth Night with Helen Hayes opened in November. Earlier, Audrey had submitted Battle of Angels, a play containing Williams’s major theme—the destructive impact of society on the sensitive, nonconformist individual—to Harold Clurman for consideration by the Group Theatre, but after the failure of Clifford Odets’s Night Music, Clurman was not interested in undertaking another large production with the Group producing.
Margo Jones’s direction was singled out as deficient and many found the play pretentious, amateurish, and unendurably lengthy. ”36 Several years later, José Quintero’s successful revival with Geraldine Page as Alma Winemiller at the Circle in the Square supported Atkinson’s earlier assessment and reaffirmed Audrey’s belief in the delicate play. THE WORK SCRIPT The 1950s were years of triumphs and failures for the agent and her famous client. Audrey signed a number of writers, including Robert Anderson, Carson McCullers, William Inge, Jane Bowles, and Maurice Valency, and began the new decade with The Enchanted, The Member of the Wedding, and Come Back, Little Sheba.
Dedicated to his agent, the play ran for nearly 700 performances and received the Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Moreover, Audrey negotiated the film rights for $500,000 with MGM, the same studio that had declined to renew Williams’s contract as a screenwriter. Years later, when Audrey was reviewing the playwright’s manuscripts housed in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin, she came upon the script for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and discovered that her client had originally dedicated the work The Bitch Goddess 47 to Carson McCullers.
Audrey Wood and the Playwrights by M. Barranger