Close-Up on London Wall

Elisa Lichtenbaum | October 21, 2014

THIRTEEN’s new Off-Broadway series, Theater Close-Up, premiered October 2 with John Van Druten’s London Wall from The Mint Theater Company. Want to learn more about the Mint and this acclaimed production? Read on, dear theater lover!

About the Play
London Wall premiered in 1931 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, one of five plays by John Van Druten that enjoyed success in London in the early 30’s. The play was acclaimed for its deftly etched characters and richly detailed atmosphere, yet it languished in obscurity until London’s Finborough Theater revived it in 2013. One year later, the Mint’s critically acclaimed production marked the play’s American premiere. It was extended three times and nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival, and two Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Julia Coffey).

“This carefully observed 1931 workplace drama is both of its time and ahead of it as it follows four single women working as typists at a law firm and navigating the rocky road of romance,” Diane Snyder wrote in Time Out New York. Laura Collins-Hughes of the New York Times also gave it a rave review: “Watching Davis McCallum’s brisk, pitch-perfect production at the Mint Theater Company feels like stumbling across a lost film classic by Howard Hawks: How did this fresh and fizzy thing fall into obscurity?”

About the Playwright
Best known for such midcentury Broadway hits as Old Acquaintance; The Voice of the Turtle; I Remember Mama; Bell, Book and Candle; and I Am a Camera, John Van Druten wrote deftly observed, character-driven plays that ranged from the realistic atmosphere of his early West End plays to the sentimental charm of his wartime hits to his daring final works. His works have also influenced American theater and television. Bell Book and Candle (1950), about a seductive witch secretly practicing sorcery in modern Manhattan, was the inspiration for the popular TV series Bewitched. I Am a Camera, adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, inspired Kander and Ebb’s hit Broadway musical Cabaret.

About The Mint Theater Company
“Lost Plays Found Here.” That’s the Mint Theater Company’s slogan — and it’s a slogan they live up to thoroughly and enthusiastically with every classic play they present at their intimate 100-seat theater on West 43rd Street in New York City.

When you enter the Mint Theater lobby, you enter a world where long-lost buried theatrical treasures come alive. The walls are lined with photos from past Mint productions, from Rachel Crothers’ 1918 play A Little Journey (a nominee for the first Pulitzer Prize in Drama) to Maurine Dallas Watkins’ backstage comedy So Help Me God! (which starred Emmy winner Kristen Johnston and was directed by the Mint’s Producing Artistic Director Jonathan Bank). You can satisfy your inner theater and book nerd at the Mint’s bookstore, which features play scripts and related scholarly works, as well as Mint Theater Company tote bags and mugs.

Also in true Mint fashion, when you open your London Wall program, you’ll see an article by their dramaturg, Amy Stoller, devoted to the history and function of a “press-copier,” a prop used in the play. To learn all about press-copiers, read the Note From Our Dramaturg on pages 8-9 of the London Wall program.

The Mint Theater experience doesn’t end with the curtain call. Following select performances, you can attend “EnrichMINT Events” – discussions led by notable authors and scholars that help place the Mint’s plays in an historical, literary and social context. Watch “John Van Druten: Sex and the Single Girl” and other London Wall EnrichMINT videos here.

Theater Close-Up airs Thursdays at at 10 p.m. on WNET through November 27th and Mondays at 10:30 p.m. through December 1st on WLIW21. If you’re in our viewing area, you can also watch online on thirteen.org/TheaterCloseUp.

Learn more about the Mint Theater Company at minttheater.org.

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