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Richard Barr

The Playwright's Producer

David A. Crespy

Publication Year: 2013




In Richard Barr: The Playwright’s Producer, author David A. Crespy investigates the career of one of the theatre’s most vivid luminaries, from his work on the film and radio productions of Orson Welles to his triumphant—and final—production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Explored in detail along the way are the producer’s relationship with playwright Edward Albee, whose major plays such as A Zoo Story and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf Barr was the first to produce, and his innovative productions of controversial works by playwrights like Samuel Beckett, Terrence McNally, and Sam Shepard. Crespy draws on Barr’s own writings on the theatre, his personal papers, and more than sixty interviews with theatre professionals to offer insight into a man whose legacy to producers and playwrights resounds in the theatre world. Also included in the volume are a foreword and an afterword by Edward Albee, a three-time Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and one of Barr’s closest associates. 





Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright

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pp. 5-7

Contents

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pp. 8-9

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Foreword by Edward Albee

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p. ix-ix

You have, ahead of you, a record of the life and accomplishments of one of the most important figures in American theatre in the 1960s and 1970s—a man whose audacity, combined with intelligence and courage, did much ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

could not have written this book without the guidance and inspiration of the following artists, scholars, and historians, whose contribution I acknowledge here. I am very grateful also for the support of my colleagues at the University of Missouri ...

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Introduction. “You Have to Hock Your House: The Story of a Producer”

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pp. 1-3

Richard Barr wrote in the frontispiece to his unpublished autobiography, “You Have to Hock Your House: The Story of a Producer,” that “when Shakespeare walks in, I wish to be the producer who presents him.”1 What follows here is the story of that producer ...

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1. Privilege with a Price: Washington, Princeton, and Early Theatre Efforts

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pp. 4-11

The early-twentieth-century Washington, D.C., Jewish community that produced Richard Barr (born Richard Alphonse Baer) was one that followed traditions of southern Reform Jewry. Unlike its brash cousin in New York, the Washington Jewish community was assimilationist, ...

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2. Playing with Martians: Stage and Screen with Orson Welles

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pp. 12-38

Richard Barr was twenty years old when he graduated from Princeton in 1938. Because he was without a job or a source of income, he decided to apply to four different institutional theatres, hoping for some form of employment or internship. He first sought out the ...

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3. A Theatrical Warrior: Lieutenant Richard Barr

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pp. 39-48

Barr’s involvement in World War II began with a Sunday morning brunch at his home on 7 December 1941. He had invited an eclectic circle of friends, including actors Forrest Tucker, Alexis Smith, and even Marina Koshetz Schubert, the actress daughter of the celebrated ...

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4. Learning the Director’s Craft: Stock, Broadway, and City Center

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pp. 49-65

Through Irving Rapper, a Welles connection, Richard Barr secured a position in 1947 as dialogue director for the film The Voice of the Turtle while he decided what to do with his career. Rapper had directed several of Bette Davis’s finest films, including the classics Now, Voyager ...

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5. Broadway Beginnings Ethel Waters, Ruth Draper, and Theatrical Collage

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pp. 66-77

Richard Barr faced his career disruption with his usual ebullience and a practical sense of what he could do to improve his luck. It changed quickly. The opportunity to produce came through his friend actress Paula Laurence, who had married the Lunts’ stage manager and ...

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6. The Zoo Story: Discovering Edward Albee

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pp. 78-94

In 1959, after his trip to Europe, a deeply dissatisfied Richard Barr left his “pleasant” though undistinguished producing partnership with Charles Bowden without having achieved his goal: “to try and bring the theater up to the point in which the other arts had arrived in this ...

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7. Producers at Work: On Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway

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pp. 95-138

Barr’s production of Eugène Ionesco’s The Killer off-Broadway at the Seven Arts Theatre on 22 March 1960 allowed him to experiment with the new multimedia, interdisciplinary “Happenings” of the 1960s, using Wellesian visual imagery from his versions ...

Gallery of Illustrations

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pp. G1 -G14

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8. Experimenting with Edward: Malcolm to All Over

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pp. 139-164

After Barr’s production of Tiny Alice, there were to be many bright spots for the ABW production team. These included a Pulitzer for Albee’s Delicate Balance; a brilliant showing of new plays at the Playwrights Unit and at Barr’s off-Broadway operations

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9. Hocking the House: Seascape to Sweeney Todd

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pp. 165-194

By July 1972, Albee and Barr were busy at the John Drew Theater in East Hampton, producing Thornton Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner, Albee’s The American Dream, Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw, and Howard Moss’s ...

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10. Brightening Broadway’s Lights: Barr’s Legacy to the American Theatre

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pp. 195-221

Richard Barr’s last Broadway production was Home Front by James Duff, produced in 1985, the culminating effort of a producer who had struggled mightily against the tide of mediocre Broadway theatre. Barr, who had spent years ...

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Afterword by Edward Albee

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p. 225-225

Well! There it is!
Not all good stories end happily, of course, and Richard Barr was eventually defeated in his endeavors by a combination of his own excesses and diminishings and a power structure determined to win out, even at the cost ...

Notes

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pp. 227-259

Bibliography

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pp. 261-267

Index

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pp. 269-279

Author Biography

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p. 279-279

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Theater in the Americas Series

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p. 280-280

The goal of the series is to publish a wide range of scholarship on theater and performance, defining theater in its broadest terms and including subjects that encompass all of the Americas.
The series focuses on the performance and production of theater and theater artists and practitioners but welcomes studies of dramatic literature ...

Other Books in the Theater in the Americas Series

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pp. 280-281

Back Cover

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p. 313-313


E-ISBN-13: 9780809331413
E-ISBN-10: 0809331411
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809331406
Print-ISBN-10: 0809331403

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 20
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Theater in the Americas

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Subject Headings

  • Barr, Richard.
  • Theatrical producers and directors -- United States -- Biography.
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