March 16, 1980
Sabulis, Globe Correspondent
And here's a marvail's
convenient place for our rehearsal." - Quince in "A
Midsummer Night's Dream"
By naming his troupe the
American Repertory Theatre (ART) instead of the Harvard
Repertory Theatre, Robert Brustein has, at least, forestalled
the wrath of the New Haven
Chamber of Commerce. His players may not be so lucky.
"How do we feel about
leaving New Haven?" asked Robertson Dean
rhetorically. "Let's hear a round of applause,
please." he laughs, answering his own question.
In interviews last week,
the good-humored emigrants from Yale were glowing in their
praise of Boston, Cambridge, Harvard University and the Loeb
Drama Center, their new Arden.
They are happy to be here,
and they tell you what any hardy thespian would about the job:
It's six good months of work and a steady paycheck.
It's also a big
commitment. As Dean, a 26-year-old Tufts graduate, put it:
"Most agents get nervous when you tell them you're going to
be out of town (New York) for six months. But for a
company like this, doing such quality work, it's fine."
Mark Linn-Baker, 25, said: "Boston is quite receptive to
this kind of theater. It's important theater. It
gives you work. Sometimes when you pursue an acting career
you spend as much time pursuing as you do acting. This
theater gives you time to work and that is rare."
And, they will remind you,
this is not New Haven.
There are 18 fulltime
members of the ART. Ten members of the company are
graduates of the Yale School of Drama and, consequently,
veterans of the Yale Rep. Three members - Brustein, Jeremy
Geidt and Carmen de Lavallade - are former faculty members at
Yale. (One of the graduates, Mark Linn-Baker also taught
mime at Yale.)
"It's going to be
different up here," Jeremy Geidt understat-ed. "For 13
long, hard years we sowed the seeds in New Haven and now we're
reaping some of the goodies. But we're not resting on our
laurels. We don't have any Boston laurels yet."
Geidt, an Englishman, is a
charter member of the ART. He served as professor of
actingat the Yale Drama School for 13 years. He trained at
the Old Vic Theatre School and has appeared in more than 300
television shows in his native country and some 40 productions
He and his wife Jan, the
agreeable director of press and public relations for the ART,
are still getting settled in their new home. They've
bought a house on Garden street near the Loeb and enrolled their
two children, ages 11 and 7, in the Peabody School.
"How was New
Haven?," he mumbled, "What could be worse? Well,
"I like the idea of
living here much better," he said, thumbing the bridgework
that he damaged on a piece of
steak the previous night. "I've lived here six
months, helping with the changeover. I think the city
works, the subway works."
He lighted another
cigarette in his late morning chain. "From the
reception we've already received I think we're going to get a
better and, I think, a younger audience, an audience of
Opening night for the
ART's debut season is Friday, with a performance of
Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream,"
incorporating portions of Henry Purcell's score for "The
Faerie Queen," scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Loeb on Brattle
street in Harvard Square. (The ART will present three
other plays during the 1980 season: the world premiere of Mark
Leib's "Terry By Terry," Bertolt Brecht and Kurt
Weill's "Happy End" and "The Inspector
General," by Nikolai Gogol.)
Adrenalin is geysering for
the 18 Equity members of the company, including Brustein, who is
playing Theseus in the Shakespeare play. Sixteen of them
were interviewed during a hectic day of rehearsals and movement
classes last week.
Cambridge theater life is
a new routine for all of them, whether they are buying homes
here, as many members of the technical staff have done, renting
apartments or commuting to and from New York. They speak
of playing in the ART in terms of "opportunity."
Actor Max Wright, a New
Yorker, joined the discussion. "I'd like to make a
statement," he says - and does. "Nearly
everybody on the street here almost always looks as distracted
as I always feel. The people are more preoccupied up
thinks of this as their spiritual home."
Wright: (looking out the
window) "It's these meandering streets, Jeremy, these
cowpath avenues. New Haven isn't nice. This is a
Wright is a former
Brustein associate from New Haven who recently appeared in the
film "All That Jazz" and is in the upcoming "John
Reed Story" and "Simon," respectively the
projects of Warren Beatty and Marshall Brickman - the latter
being Woody Allen's longtime collaborator.
He is one of the commuting
members in the ART, which he has joined for its first
season. He lives on Manhattan's West Side with his wife
and daughter and travels to Boston by train on Tuesdays, after
spending weekends with his family. He describes his weekly
departures from home with a slightly modified version of a Ring
Lardner story. "Every Tuesday, when I leave, I tell
them I'm going out for a stamp."
Carmen de Lavallade, who
has performed as a dance soloist with the Boston Pops,
Metropolitan Opera and American Ballet, and who choreographed
many production's for Brustein's company at Yale, arrived from a
movement class she was conducting downstairs.
Kenneth Ryan, a ruggedly
handsome actor, accompanied her. De
Lavallade is married to Geoffrey Holder, the director of
"The Wiz" and "Timbucktu," among other plays
(television viewers will remember him from the
"This-is-a-cola-nut" TV commercial). She is
appearing for the third time in the company's production of
"A Midsummer Night's Dream," playing Titania, as she
did in the original 1975 production, to Ryan's Oberon.
Neither has had time for
sightseeing. "What's the North End?" she asked,
seriously, when it came up in conversation. She is renting
an apartment in Harvard Square. Ryan is staying in what he
politely referred to as "theater housing" on Chauncey
street in Cambridge, a house the theatre is renting.
Several members of the ART are living in Harvard University
housing. Mark Linn-Baker, for example, is staying in
Among the company are
three New Englanders - Marianne Owen of Cape Elizabeth, Maine,
and Robertson Dean and Mark Linn-Baker, of Connecticut.
Eight members are from New York; two from Canada; one each from
Pennsylvania, Lexington, Ky., Washington D.C., Utah, and
England. Five non-Equity actors from Boston have been
employed for minor parts for the season. Barbara Orson, a
member of the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Rhode Island,
will join the ART for its production of "The Inspector
Richard Grusin, Yale Drama
School class of '79, recently finished a season of work at the
Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. He is "living
with the boss," at artistic director Robert Brustein's
house in Cambridge, "doubling as a houseboy," joked
Two years ago, Grusin
performed in "Sganarelle" and "The 1940s Radio
Hour" in Boston with several other members of the
ART. At the time, they were all students at the Yale
School of Drama.
"The thing I remember
about it was that the audiences were wonderful," he said.
"The response was
more enthusiastic than anywhere we ever played. It was
like they were starved for it."
Phillip Cates' memories of
Boston are not that good. An New York University graduate,
Cates was in the cast of "Golda" when its set burned
inside the Wilbur Theater in October, 1977, forcing the
production to move across Tremont street to the Shubert Theater
and perform sans sets. "A real horror story," he
Stephen Rowe, 31, from
Pennsylvania, is a graduate of Emerson College and
"available for honorary degrees."
"We're all hoping
this will make us a little more famous," he said, half