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Ellen Adler and Mike Medavoy

Edward Albee and Marian Seldes

Holland Taylor and
John Wegorzewski

The New Festival of the Arts
Memorializes Harold Clurman

Story by Edward T Callaghan
Photos by Wendy Cassidy

TELLA ADLER Studio of Acting was packed to the rafters for the opening night of the inaugural Harold Clurman Festival of the Arts.

From the moment actor/playwright Ronald Rand stepped on stage in a black fedora, cape and cigar – the signature trademarks of the late Elder Statesman of the American theater, director/teacher/critic/producer Harold Clurman – the audience knew something very special was afoot.

For ninety minutes, Rand the creator and star of Let It Be Art! Harold Clurman’s Life of Passion! captivated the crowd with his critically acclaimed portrayal of the Group Theater Founder. So much had he captured the essence of the late Clurman, that Elaine Stritch remarked, "He is an illusionist – I felt I was actually with Harold."

Following Rand’s performance, Daily News critic Howard Kissel moderated a vibrant discussion of Clurman’s influence on actors. Kissel dubbed him a "Zen Master." Studio co-chairman Roy Scheider and four-time Tony Award winner Zoe Caldwell drew laughs with their tales of doing Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Lois Smith, a Drama Desk nominee this year for A Trip to Bountiful, shared her first experience with Clurman in Orpheus Descending and Elaine Stritch spoke told some saucy tales of Clurman and Kim Stanley when they performed Bus Stop in the 1950s.

Ellen Adler, Stella’s daughter and vice-chairman of the Studio, dedicated the evening to Julie Harris and the late producer Robert Whitehead She remarked how much the gathering – an audience filled with actors, playwrights, composers, choreographers, critics and intellectuals – was like an evening in Harold and Stella’s home when their townhouse was the epicenter of the cultural life in New York.

Tom Oppenheim, artistic director of the Studio and producer of the festival, was clearly thrilled at the public response.

Among those on hand were esteemed critic and historian Steven Scheuer, writer/social critic Alida Brill, award winning playwright Ellen M. Violett, filmmakers Brenda Siemer and Rick Friedberg, Louise Hirschfeld, actors Holland Taylor, Cynthia Adler, Judd Jones and Frank West.

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