T1E MICHIGAN DAILY
19UND AY, AITJL 27, 1952 r
PAGE SIX SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 195Z ~'
Marks 'U' Drama
By VIRGINIA VOSS
The present wealth of campus dramatic activity, climaxed each
year by the Drama Season productions, is a far cry from the sporadic
beginnings of student theater, when poor facilities and lack of
women performers plagued nearly every performance.
In contrast to frequent, varied productions common today,
the early days of University history knew no organized drama groups.
Theater in Ann Arbor and University dramatics, today practically
synonymous, were in the 1800's separate entities.
AS AN EDITORIAL writer in the Chronicle (predecessor to The
Daily) complained in 1870: "The only dramatic entertainments now
witnessed in Ann Arbor are the outrageous burlesques given by wan-
dering minstrel troupes."
Student dramatic activity, in spite of the Chronicle's plea,
remained somewhat lethargic until the 1900's. Prior to this, only
scattered productions reflecting the national trend towards melo-
drama and minstrel-show comedy were given.
The first strictly University entertainment was a variety show
produced in 1876 by a senior class society with the bewildering title
While such civic groups at the "Young Men's Amateur Dramatic
and Parlor Entertainment Association" flourished, students in the
1880's, according to one historian, "merrily produced worthless come-
STUDENT PRODUCTION of comic drama beganin earnest,
however, with a popular group known as the Comedy Club, which
generally dominated the local dramatic scene until it disbanded in 1935.
But shortly after its initial performance in 1895, Comedy Club
directors were forced to utter a complaint common to the time:
no women. The Daily commented: "Heretofore there has been some
difficulty in persuading the young ladies of the University to
participate, but this year the faculty ladies have promised to make
an effort in behalf of Comedy Club."
During the Comedy Club period, emphasis of the social aspect
of theater was especially strong. Fraternities and sororitiessheld gala
theater parties and the fashionable society of Ann Arbor turnedaout
in full force for Comedy Club opening nights.
COMPETITION WAS the life of student theater in the early
1900's. Besides Comedy Club and the language groups, class projects
such as Junior Girls Play and typically collegiate productions like
Union Opera sprang up and drew large student audiences.
Ann Arbor organizations which for years had held monopolies
on drama production resentfully saw that regardless of their calibre,
University sponsored entertainments thrived while others could go
begging for audiences.
During World War I, theater at Michigan reflected an important
change in drama in the United States. With the decline of profes-
sional road shows, the job of keeping theater alive fell largely to the
community. In Ann Arbor, the University took the responsibility.
The speech department, which had grown from a six-lecture
course in 1884 to a full-fledged department, in 1915 organized a unique
course called Play Production, which became one of the first in the
country to combine education and theater.
In reviews of Play Production's initial production "The Servant
in the House," local critics thanked the speech department "for making
dramatics at the University something besides a social good time."
World War II days reversed the early quest for actresses and
dramatic activity waned for lack of male characters. But immediately
following the war, a revived interest resulted in the formation of the
Gilbert and Sullivan Society, the Student Players, and the Inter-
These groups, together with the speech department, are today
the main contributors to dramatic production on campus.
To Be Last
Out of Christopher Fry's reflec-
tions on love has come the witty,
perverse, enigmatic "Venus Ob-
served" which will be here with
Edward Ashley and Margaret Phil-
lips June 10-14 as the last play of
the 1952 Drama Season.
THIS IS A play about love. It
is the love of a philandering Eng-
lish duke, nearing 50, who feels
that he should marry someone to
relieve the loneliness of later years.
He intends to choose a bride
from his long line of former mis-
tresses, but he is beguiled by the
fair young daughter of his ami-
ably dishonest estate manager~
He lures her up to his private
observatory with a twist of the
classic "Come up and see my
While they are there an ex-mis-
tress sets fire to the observatory.
The Duke repents, and marries his
ex, while his son gets the fair
The role of the duke will be
played by Flward Ashley, who will
be remembered for his role in "The
Cocktail Party" here last season.
A rising young actress, Margaret
Phillips, will play the innocent
maid. She was last seen on
Broadway in "Second Threshold,"
the last play Barrie wrote, and
which is said to have been written
especially for her. Earlier in her
career she received excellent no-
tices from the New York critics
for her appearances in "The Late
George Apley" and as Alma in
"Summer and Smoke."
"VENUS OBSERVED" is a play
for autumn in Christopher Fry's
cycle of the seasons. The play for
spring is "The Lady's Not for
Burning," but those for the other
two seasons have not yet been
There are many who consider
that Fry, that impudent and
fanciful young poet, has brought
about a joyous rediscovery of
the English language. The least
that can be said is that he dared
to bring verse back to the thea-
ter when everyone else was sure
it wouldn't sell.
Now it seems to me that after 35 years .. .
* * * *
Field, Meredith To Plav
Here in Broadway Show
T-o B ere
In 'She ba'
The second bill of the 1952
Drama Season will bring Joan
Blondell and Wilson Brooks in
"Come Back, Little Sheba,"gthe
sordid story of the hopeless life
of a poverty stricken middle-aged
The Igne play opens June 20.
e: se e
IN TAKING a role not altogeth-
er familiar to her screen audiences,
Joan Blondell has exchanged the
slick polish of the Hollywood com-
edienne for the role of Lola. a
dumpy morbid woman. Miss Blon-
Counter sale for Drama Sea-
son tickets will open April 30 at
10 a.m. in the Garden Room of
the League. Mail orders are
being taken now. Orders should.
be addressed in care of the Dra-
ma Season, Michigan League.
For the first of the week sea-
son tickets are priced at $12.00,
$10.00 and $7.50 for the main
floor and $12.00, $10.00, $7.50
and $5.00 for the balcony.
For Friday and Saturday per-
formances the main floor prices
are $14.00, $12.00 and $9.50.
The balcony for weekends is
the same as the main floor with
an additional $5.00 ticket. For
matinees the main floor is $7.50
and $5.00 and the balcony is the
dell has recently appeared in the
screen version of "A Tree Grows
in Brooklyn." Her latest picture
is "The Blue Veil."
Wilson Brooks, who plays the
part of "Doc" in the play, has
had long experience with the
''little'' theater movement.
play refers to a lost dog, Little
Sheba, that Lola keeps calling.
The runaway animal is symbolic
of a series of lost items: beauty,
love and youth.
During her college days the o-
la-la Lola became involved with a
young pre-med student who event-
ually had to quit school and marry
her. He has become a chiropractor
in a small midwestern town, bare-
ly eking out a living. The constant
realization of what might have
been drives him to occasional
binges and Alcoholics Anonymous.
N.Y. Hit Show Set
A comedy with a serious undertone, "Goodbye My Fancy" by
a new playwrightdFay Kanin will open this spring's Drama Season on
May 13 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater.
Scheduled for a five day run, "Goodbye My Fancy" will bring to
Ann Arbor, Broadway actress, Sylvia Sidney.
MISS SIDNEY comes to Mendelssohn after touring the nation
as the kleptomaniac in "Black Chiffon" and the gentle governess
in William Archibald's, "The Innocents."
The actress who has portrayed almost every type of role,
also recently played the lusty Anne Boleyn in "Anne of the
" Thousand Days" and toured in
Will Pre View
"A Date With April" will play
to an Ann Arbor audience before
running the test of a Broadway
opening next fall.
The newest of the plays to come
to the Drama Season, "A Date
With April" will open June 2 and
run through June 7.
*' * *
WHEN THE comedy opened in
Kansas City in March the critics
lauded it as "bright and enter-
taining," and praised the star,
Constance Bennett as "brilliant in
Miss Bennett, for whom the
play was especially written, has
been a star since the age of 15.
"Discovered" by Samuel Gold-
wyn, Miss Bennett, who comes
from an acting family, made a
successful screen test which re-
sulted in an important - part in
After a top performance in
"Common Law," hit after hit
followed including "Born to
Love," "Bed of Roses," "Bought,"
"Merrily We Live," "After Office
Hours" and many others.
Often known as the screen's best
dressed woman, Miss Bennett vir-
tually presents a fashion show in
"A Date With April" with her nu-
merous stylish gowns which she
wears in the three acts in which
she is on stage.
The people involved in "A Date
With April" are a concert pianist
and a rather matter-of-fact psy-
chiatrist who woos the pianist.
"Joan of Lorraine" and "O'Mis-
In "Goodbye My Fancy" Miss
Sidney will portray the attractive.
intelligent Congresswoman, Agatha
Reed who gives the audience &'
well calculated lesson on -liberality'
.With a background of college
dorms, trustee meetings and grad-
uation teas, the play will have
special meaning for the local aud-
Mixed in with pungent dialogue
and wit, are the serious ideas of
frightened liberals, academic free-
dom and spiritual courage.
"GOODBYE My Fancy" tells the
story of the return of a glamorous
Congresswoman to her alma mater
to receive an honorary degree. The
former female war correspondent
goes back to Good Hope College
for Women from which she had
been expelled 20 years ago.
But she returns only to find
that the man she has loved for
all these years, once her history
professor and now the college
president, is lacking in the
stamina, courage and integrity
she expected to find.
At the end of three harrowing
days, the crusading Congresswom-
an makes the decision to reject
the man of her memories and
turns to a liberal minded Life
The title of the play is taken
word by word from a poem by
Walt Whitman in his "Leaves of
First performed in New York on
November 18, 1948, "Goodbye My
Fancy" received rave notices fronM
the critics. They called it "high
spirited," "extremely likable," and
"a play with polish and view-
The smash Broadway hit, "The,
Fourposter," is proof positive that.
an exciting play can be produced
with only one playwright, one dir-
ector, and two actors.
The playwright is Jan de Har-
tog, the director, Jose Ferrer and
the two actors Betty Field and
Burgess Meredith. "The Fourpos-
ter" will be in Ann Arbor May 26"
through May 31.
* 'K *
THE WELL KNOWN married
stage couple will play the princi-
ples in the story of a domestic
cavalcade covering a period of 35
Meredith, who has thrown his
copious talent around TV,
Broadway, Hollywood and radio
for many years, is well known
for his excellent job of portray-
ing George in "Of Mice and
Also well known for many roles1
on stage and in movies is the
young outstanding actress, Miss
Field. As Curley's wife in "Of
Mice and Men," Miss Field estab-
lished her first memorable film
* *' *
"THIS IS NO sex farce," said a
New York critic when the "Four-
poster" opened in October," but a
gentle, beautifully mannered hu-
The much talked about bed
stands ungracefully in a corner
and witnesses the joys and sorrows
of a generation. It is a huge or-
nate bed with a tester that chang-
es with the decades. The fourpos-
ter acts as a serviceable back-
ground for much of the action. It
acts as a prop to the customary
maid or butler who never appear
but project their voices through a
C J '. ' e ' °
MAY 13 - JUNE 14
PRIZE PLAYS...PRE-BROADWAY PERFORMANCES
SYLVIA SIDNEY in GOODBYE, MY FANCY
By Fay Kanin - May 13-17
"A Grand Comedy"... N.Y. Sun - "A H it",.. N.Y. Journal American
JOAN BLONDELL in COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA
By William Inge -May 20-24 "Electric, Exciting" ... N.Y. Daily Mirror
BETTY FIELD and BURGESS MEREDITH in THE FOURPOSTER
By Jan de Hartog - May 26-31
A Current Broadway Hit - Exclusive Release to Ann Arbor
CONSTANCE BENNETT in A DATE WITH APRIL
By George Batson - June 2-7 A Sparkling Comedy To Open in N.Y. Next Fall
EDWARD ASHLEY and MARGARET PHILLIPS in VENUS OBSERVED
By Christopher Fry - June 10-14... Current Broadway Hit and Prize Play
Evenings at 8:30 P.M.
- Matinees Thursday 3:15 P.M.; Saturday 2-30 P.M.
Evenings (through Thursday) $12.00-$10.00-$7.50-$5.00
Friday and Saturday $14.00--$12.00--$950-$5.00
Matinees-$7.50 and $5.00
Enclose a stamped, self-addressed
envelope if you wish tickets mailed.
SPECIFY PERFORMANCE DESIRED
*| * . iMEMME EEWR _____________________________ _ i E EEESEEM! nsii i
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