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Monday November 24, 2014
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Sea of Fools

 

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named Marlon Brando, began to be seen as the future of Hollywood. The Stanislavsky school of "method" acting, which had been thrilling the cognoscenti of New York for years, had the old-style Hollywood stars on the run. Suddenly, actors like Gloria Swanson and Tallulah Bankhead — who had been trained in overheated, melodramatic techniques partly handed down from silent films, partly cheap imitation of British stage actors — were relics.

Many of these New York innovators were members of the Communist Party, and it was the McCarthy era. The ensuing clash of artistic styles turned viciously political and destroyed careers as well as egos, but the clash would have brought fireworks anyway. Sea of Fools, set in 1950, is a fictional confrontation between Elia Kazan and a group of Hollywood has-beens. It's neither tragedy nor comedy. Matt Letscher, first-time playwright and director (though an accomplished actor who has appeared at the Purple Rose), chooses to work in the ultraviolet end of the spectrum: farce.

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