Stage Door: Through the Eyes of a Dramaturg

Jennifer Wilson, Dramaturg for Montclair State University's Production of "Stage Door" by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman will blog about her progress and growth as a Dramaturg.

Wrap Up

And Stage Door has come to an end. After 9 weeks of rehearsing, the show was a success and the audience’s response was fantastic.

As for me, my journey as a dramaturg has just begun. I have learned a lot from my first experience as a dramatug on a production and will take my experiences with me to future endeavors. I have been blessed to work with such an amazing cast—passionate and eager to work—and they have inspired me to document my journey throughout this production.

A special ‘thank you’ to Neil Baldwin for encouraging me throughout the process and guiding me along the way. Also to Susan Kerner— without her, there would be no Stage Door. I truly enjoyed watching her vision come to life on the Stage of the Alexander Kasser Theater.

The rest of the production crew—thank you for your dedication.  Working together and being organized put us all on the right track to make this show a success.

Stage Door will always hold a special place in my heart as an experience I will never forget, because it was my first time as a dramaturg. For that, I am thankful.

Introduction

I consider myself a theater artist—someone who likes to learn and absorb everything one can possibly absorb theatrically. I enjoy performing, seeing shows, choreographing, writing, and recently have been introduced to Dramaturgy. I took Intro to Dramaturgy last semester with Professor and Mentor, Neil Baldwin. After taking his Playscript Interpretation course and analyzing/discussing plays, I found an interest in Dramaturgy. I love to research. Growing up, in history class when I found something that interested me and wanted to learn more, I would go home and research more.

I really learned and absorbed a lot from N.B. after taking Intro to Dramaturgy. I was interested in Dramaturging on a show and was assigned last semester as Dramaturg for “Stage Door” by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman under the direction of Susan Kerner.

“Stage Door”, an ode to the theater, takes us on a remarkable journey with a group of actresses in 1930s Manhattan at the Footlights Club, A Rehearsal Club on 53rd Street. Terry Randall, the protagonist fights between theater and film. Which path does she choose? Well, you will have to find out yourself !

This past summer, I spent much time at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library researching the production and history. Susan is VERY interested in the history of the Rehearsal Club. Why did Ferber write this play and is this play still powerful in today’s society?

This is quite a learning experience for me and I plan to share that with you. I hope you will join me as I embark on this journey into the 1930’s and explore the world of the play. Until next time !

Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman.

Edna Ferber wrote Stage Door after being inspired by the Rehearsal Club. She went in to “look into housing for her niece who was an aspiring actress” (she would later go on to play Bernice in the production on Broadway) and months later Stage Door became a success. Other plays of Ferber include The Royal Family and Dinner at Eight. Both were collaborated with George S. Kaufman as well.

George S. Kaufman was known for his collaborations with many such as Edna Ferber and Moss Hart. He wrote only one play alone and that was The Butter and Egg Man.

Fun little clip of Lucille Ball from Stage Door the movie.

Clifford Odets, American playwright and screenwriter inspired Ferber to create the character of playwright Keith Burgess who writes for the “iron worker”, “the masses”. He abandons the stage to go write for Hollywood. Like Burgess, Clifford Odets wrote radical plays. His play Till The Day I Die, was banned for its anti- Nazi sentiments. Other works of Odets include Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing!, and Rocket to the Moon.
His style of writing has been described as follows : “Odets dramatic style is distinguished as kind of poetic, metaphor-laden street talk, by his socialist politics, and by dropping the audience into the conflict with little or no introduction. Often character is more important than plot and was influenced by Anton Chekov. His political statements often reflect that Marxism that was common in the nineteen thirtes”.
Odets went to Hollywood to write screenplays such as The General Died at Dawn, None But the Lonely Heart, and The Flowering Peach. However, he still remained heavily involved with on the East Coast with the Group Theater.

Clifford Odets, American playwright and screenwriter inspired Ferber to create the character of playwright Keith Burgess who writes for the “iron worker”, “the masses”. He abandons the stage to go write for Hollywood. Like Burgess, Clifford Odets wrote radical plays. His play Till The Day I Die, was banned for its anti- Nazi sentiments. Other works of Odets include Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing!, and Rocket to the Moon.

His style of writing has been described as follows : “Odets dramatic style is distinguished as kind of poetic, metaphor-laden street talk, by his socialist politics, and by dropping the audience into the conflict with little or no introduction. Often character is more important than plot and was influenced by Anton Chekov. His political statements often reflect that Marxism that was common in the nineteen thirtes”.

Odets went to Hollywood to write screenplays such as The General Died at Dawn, None But the Lonely Heart, and The Flowering Peach. However, he still remained heavily involved with on the East Coast with the Group Theater.

Great Footage of New York City in the 1930’s.

A video I found rather interesting. Fashion and Design of the 1930’s. The Great Depression effected fashion of this time. Many of the girls in Stage Door share dresses hence the Depression.