HISTORY OF PLAYHOUSE WEST

Reprinted from a 1995 Article by Robert Carnegie

A reviewer of Sidney Lumet’s new book, Making Movies, made mention of the fact that Mr. Lumet had an excellent memory when it came to those with whom he worked that did a good job but conveniently forgot the names of those with whom he had difficulties. This was gracious of Mr. Lumet and is the example we would like to emulate in this short history of our theater.

In point of fact, The Actor’s Studio was founded in October of 1947 by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, and Robert Lewis two months before A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway. It was Streetcar of course that made a star of Marion Brando. In the book, Tennessee Williams & Elia Kazan: a Collaboration in the Theatre by Brenda Murphy, the following point is made about the casting of this play: “It was Selznik (the producer) who suggested Kim Hunter for Stella, but the rest of the cast, as was to become typical for Kazan, came out of his newly established Actor’s Studio, which he was to treat as a kind of permanent company, drawing on it for both plays and films throughout the forties and fifties.” (page 20). Kazan was a member of The Group Theater. He learned there that the best acting was created by an ensemble that worked together and shared a common vision and technique.