In the year 1931, the Group Theatre emerged through the combined efforts of Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee Strasberg. This group managed to create a company of well trained individuals who are made known for their strict style and dedication. It has been made up of members who aimed to uphold the political views of the leftists which they were able to facilitate through producing plays that revolved around interesting and controversial social issues. Because it challenged a lot of idealisms in the society, the Group Theatre garnered the attention of many people, social groups, and governmental organizations.
The three remarkable minds behind the Group Theatre as mentioned above and by dissecting their contributions in the world of theater and productions, we will be able to further appreciate it. Harold Clurman has been seen as a visionary in his works on the stage as a director and critic. Until today, he is still being considered as one of the most influential in the world of theatre for his notable contributions in this field of acting. With more than forty plays that he has directed, he has gained the respect of audiences, actors, and co-directors from different production companies. He was even nominated for a Tony Award in the 1950s for his contribution as a director for theater. Some of his most notable works include The New Republic and The Nation, as well as several books that he has written which is inspired by his life on theater. Clurman’s most personal creation is his memoir entitled The Fervent Years: The Group Theatre and The Thirties which was released in 1961.
Cheryl Crawford had a very early exposure to theater as a drama major in Smith College. Soon after she graduated from her degree, she immediately moved to New York which has been known as a center for artists since the earlier eras. During the earlier years of her career, Cheryl Crawford seemed quite unsure of the path that she would wish to take, until she was taken in as a casting secretary. As she worked behind the scenes, she met with the other colleagues, Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg influencing her outlook in life. She has been influential in the endeavors of the Group Theatre because of her connections with other actors and directors. Even as the Group Theatre dispersed, she continued to work as an independent producer for theatrical shows.
The last but still considered as the most influential founder of the Group Theatre is the very popular Lee Strasberg who, until today, is considered as the true theatrical collective. Since he was able to contribute highly to the building of non profit organizations that supported the arts and freedom of expression, his name can be seen all over Hollywood with the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. There are plenty of students who would want to become a part of this institution since the time it was built. In addition to all his contributions, Lee Strasberg is also called the father of Method Acting all over the United States because he has devoted all his life to the revolutionizing of the art of acting in New York and all over the world.
The Method is a well known acting technique that is still being used in the theaters today and in training younger actors of this generation. Although this strategy has been based on the ideas coming from Konstantin Stanislavsky, Lee Strasberg was the one who developed this and made it a useful technique for actors. The Method is a systematized manner of training and rehearsing the actors by touching their inner most emotional experiences. Improvisation is also a characteristic of the Method encouraging actors to bring out emotions through the use of their experiences and things found around them.
The development in the philosophies and strategies of the Group Theatre began with its initial production of The House of Connelly in 1931 which was shown in the Martin Beck Theatre. Due to the fact that Paul Green was its creator, it garnered instant success and the recognition that very few individuals were able to achieve during that period. But despite its success, Paul Green does not seemed pleased because of the obvious representation that exposed of his beliefs.
Soon, the Group Theatre managed to attract many other individuals with the similar philosophy as its current members. In their production of the Success Story of John Howard Lawson, it featured the rise of a young idealist as he continued to sacrifice his beliefs in order to become at the top of the corporate ladder. This production paved the way for more plays which also led to the first and most notable recognition in the form of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama which helped change the views of people about the Group Theatre. The other performances produced by the Group Theatre during its earlier years of existence included a one act play entitled Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing, Paradise Lost, Johnny Johnson, and Thunder Rock.
With the impending war, the American theater took a back seat together with this was the Group Theatre due to the decreased funding and negative relationships. In the year of 1941, the Group Theatre was forced to disband. There was even investigations made to expose the virtues and beliefs of the group where some members chose to testify to expose the names of its other members. The members who were invited yet refused to testify were blacklisted by the House of Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC.
As the war ended in 1947, the Group Theatre re-emerged as the Actors Studio which was founded by Robert Lewis, Elia Kazan, and Cheryl Crawford. Through this, the philosophies of the Group Theatre further evolved as it invoked the leadership of Lee Strasberg in 1951. Today, the Group Theatre still continues to influence various theaters all over Broadway and the world. With the Method, as a highly recognized strategy in productions, the Group Theatre continues to develop and unfold with the history of theatrical productions and plays.