- This producing organization started at the end of World War I, in part to replace the Washington Square Players, which had closed due to the war. The Theatre Guild was founded by Players board members, including Lawrence Langner, Philip Moeller, Rollo Peters, Lee Simonson, and Helen Westley, with Theresa Helburn* and Dudley Digges becoming important forces within the organization when they joined shortly after the founding. The Guild's first production, Jacinto Benavente's The Bonds of Interest (1919), with scene design by Peters who also starred, was a succès d'estime, but it was the acclaim accorded their second production, St. John Ervine's John Ferguson (1919), that began a remarkable era of producing. The Guild continues to the present, although its significance declined after the 1950s.In its heyday, the Guild produced some of the most important American plays of the mid-20th century, while staging many European works as well. The Guild's productions prior to 1930 include Jane Clegg (1920), Heartbreak House (1920), Mr. Pim Passes By (1921), Liliom (1921), He Who Gets Slapped (1922), Back to Methuselah (1922), R.U.R. (1922), The Adding Machine (1923), Saint Joan (1923), The Guardsman (1924), They Knew What They Wanted (1924), The Garrick Gaieties (1925), NedMcCobb's Daughter (1926), The Silver Cord (1926), The Second Man (1927), Porgy (1927), Marco Millions (1928), Strange Interlude (1928), and Dynamo (1929). Among the important works mounted after 1930 were several plays by Eugene O'Neill, S. N. Behrman, and Maxwell Anderson, the first musicals by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Robert E. Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning plays Idiot's Delight* (1936) and There Shall Be No Night* (1940), the acclaimed Paul Robeson Othello (1943), Porgy and Bess (1935), and such varied plays as Reunion in Vienna* (1931), The Philadelphia Story* (1939), The Time of Your Life* (1939), and Come Back, Little Sheba* (1950).
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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