Summer stock version of The Night of January 16th


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Summer stock version of The Night of January 16th

Today Kat and I saw the version of The Night of January 16th that was altered by Al Woods. It was put on at the Devonshire Playhouse in Skokie, Il. This was the version they used because, I presume, for contractual reasons, it is the version that is licensed out to amateur theaters.

It's been years since I read the book and I saw Rand's corrected version in New York in the early 1970's. The distance in time didn't help, though. The thing I saw today was quite a shock.

I will write more about it tomorrow. I just want to register right now that I have always been curious about the adulterated version.

Well, I've seen it now.

And... well... hmmmm... what can I say?...

It's been seen.

There.

More tomorrow.

Michael

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I saw the 1973 NYC production too, Michael. Phil Smith had been my acting teacher. My beef with the 1973 version was the jury wasn't really on the stage. I knew then it wasn't going to be a success, apart from the bad reviews. One reviewer called it a "vanity" production. It was in the sense Ayn got her play produced with her script and her original title. Too bad they couldn't raise enough money to put it on Broadway with an upgraded cast. I did like the actor who played "Guts." Kay Nolte Smith played Karen. I have the Playbill someplace.

The defense lawyer was played by a distinguished looking man. In 1982 when I went to Kensico cemetery apropos AR's burial, I swear I talked to the same guy behind the desk. I didn't make the connection until later. I could be wrong, but that kind of look doesn't travel.

--Brant

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I saw the 1973 NYC production too, Michael. Phil Smith had been my acting teacher. My beef with the 1973 version was the jury wasn't really on the stage. I knew then it wasn't going to be a success, apart from the bad reviews. One reviewer called it a "vanity" production. It was in the sense Ayn got her play produced with her script and her original title. Too bad they couldn't raise enough money to put it on Broadway with an upgraded cast. I did like the actor who played "Guts." Kay Nolte Smith played Karen. I have the Playbill someplace.

The defense lawyer was played by a distinguished looking man. In 1982 when I went to Kensico cemetery apropos AR's burial, I swear I talked to the same guy behind the desk. I didn't make the connection until later. I could be wrong, but that kind of look doesn't travel.

--Brant

Brant, your remark about what doesn't travel made me think about the enduring dramatic power of Rand's fictional works, and how they travel, while Objectivist-influenced fiction, and the productions of a whole generation of eager readers of her "Art of

Fiction" , lie lifeless on the page. I know this subject has been endlessly discussed, but it is still interesting.

Meanwhile I await Michael's take on the Jan17th production to see what has travelled and what has been left behind.

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Meanwhile I await Michael's take on the Jan17th production to see what has travelled and what has been left behind.

Before or after his report on the Glenn Beck rally?

Definitely before.

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I saw the 1973 NYC production too, Michael. Phil Smith had been my acting teacher. My beef with the 1973 version was the jury wasn't really on the stage. I knew then it wasn't going to be a success, apart from the bad reviews. One reviewer called it a "vanity" production. It was in the sense Ayn got her play produced with her script and her original title. Too bad they couldn't raise enough money to put it on Broadway with an upgraded cast. I did like the actor who played "Guts." Kay Nolte Smith played Karen. I have the Playbill someplace.

The defense lawyer was played by a distinguished looking man. In 1982 when I went to Kensico cemetery apropos AR's burial, I swear I talked to the same guy behind the desk. I didn't make the connection until later. I could be wrong, but that kind of look doesn't travel.

--Brant

Brant, your remark about what doesn't travel made me think about the enduring dramatic power of Rand's fictional works, and how they travel, while Objectivist-influenced fiction, and the productions of a whole generation of eager readers of her "Art of

Fiction" , lie lifeless on the page. I know this subject has been endlessly discussed, but it is still interesting.

Meanwhile I await Michael's take on the Jan17th production to see what has travelled and what has been left behind.

Well, you at least know half of what you are talking about. And what is "the Jan 17th production"?

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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I saw the 1973 NYC production too, Michael. Phil Smith had been my acting teacher. My beef with the 1973 version was the jury wasn't really on the stage. I knew then it wasn't going to be a success, apart from the bad reviews. One reviewer called it a "vanity" production. It was in the sense Ayn got her play produced with her script and her original title. Too bad they couldn't raise enough money to put it on Broadway with an upgraded cast. I did like the actor who played "Guts." Kay Nolte Smith played Karen. I have the Playbill someplace.

The defense lawyer was played by a distinguished looking man. In 1982 when I went to Kensico cemetery apropos AR's burial, I swear I talked to the same guy behind the desk. I didn't make the connection until later. I could be wrong, but that kind of look doesn't travel.

--Brant

Brant, your remark about what doesn't travel made me think about the enduring dramatic power of Rand's fictional works, and how they travel, while Objectivist-influenced fiction, and the productions of a whole generation of eager readers of her "Art of

Fiction" , lie lifeless on the page. I know this subject has been endlessly discussed, but it is still interesting.

Meanwhile I await Michael's take on the Jan17th production to see what has travelled and what has been left behind.

Well, you at least know half of what you are talking about. And what is "the Jan 17th production"?

--Brant

Thanks for the half. I would say that "Jan17th" refers to the next day after the Night of Jan !6th -ie the successive, 2011 version which Michael saw.But really, it was just a typo.

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Here are just a few thoughts on what I saw.

To start with, here is the front and back of the first page of the playbill.

Night%20of%20Jan16-Devonshire-1.jpg

Night%20of%20Jan16-Devonshire-2.jpg

As you can see from the cast, this is not at all close to what is in the published book.

Incredibly, I don't have the book with me. I had about 3 copies in Brazil so I never thought to buy a new one here (but I will change that soon). And as luck would have it, Kat's version is an old summer stock Player's Book from Longman's, Green and Co. God knows where she got that from.

Anyway, I have my memories.

Rather than give you a litany of all the differences between Rand's approved version and the Al Woods version, I only want to mention a few impressions I had when I saw the play. Nowadays people are going on and on about the Atlas Shrugged movie set to launch next month. Some are worried that Rand's message will be disfigured. But if anyone wants to see what watered down Rand is like, they should see this thing.

There's a 1941 movie version with Robert Preston that could probably do the job, too. But when you look at the synopsis, it's a totally different story. There's even a sailor as a main character in that one.

Back to the play. Since I know what the original is like, both from reading it and seeing it, watching this version gave me the oddest impression. It was kind of like looking at the "Mona Lisa" with a mustache, clown's nose and other stuff randomly painted on it to give it "entertainment value."

Seriously.

Al Woods even made up a new character, Roberta Van Rensselaer, who was Lefty O'Toole's wife. (If that sounds confusing, that's because it is.) In the script I have, she is just a gun moll. In the production I saw, she was a little more--a hooker who gave out business cards. She even giving one to Whitfield right in front of the judge while making flirting insinuations about his money. Then, when the jury was counting up the votes, she went through the audience giving out the cards.

:)

What's to say?

This is supposed to be a work by Ayn Rand!!!

But I can't stop laughing.

Notice the multicultural female cop in the playbill above. Can anyone imagine Rand creating a female character called "Officer Pooja Patel"?

:)

Anywho... I could go on and on, but I don't want to blast the production. So here's the good side.

This was not a professional production like you would see on Broadway and it was no longer a work by Ayn Rand.

But that's good?

Well, sort of, if you look at the event as a bunch of friendly, good-hearted Jews having fun. (Skokie has a large Jewish colony that comes directly from German concentration camp survivors.) It was like a hambone party where almost everyone knew each other and not much else. I felt like the odd man out, but that's OK.

Once I forgot about Ayn Rand and just let the thing be on its own standards, it was kind of fun. It was like watching people enjoy themselves on the beach or at an amusement park. And I like watching people have fun (until it gets boring... :) ).

I really want to see the play again, though. I mean the good version done professionally.

Michael

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