Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater

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University of Michigan Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 367 pages
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"In Milly Barranger, Margaret Webster has found the perfect biographer. In Margaret Webster, Milly Barranger has found her perfect subject. She brings to vivid life a fascinating and important theater figure whose public and private lives were of equal interest. In this carefully researched book, Webster's colleagues, lovers, and friends shine as brightly as she did. I wish she were here to read it."
-Marian Seldes

"Margaret Webster is a highly welcome addition to our knowledge of the first important female director in American theater. Remembered now especially for her staging of Othello with Paul Robeson, Uta Hagen, and Jose Ferrer, Margaret Webster was probably the best-known, in-demand, and admired director of Shakespeare in America in the 1940s and 1950s. Fascinating throughout, the book's discussions of working with Robeson, and of HUAC, which targeted her just as her career was reaching a peak, make for especially engrossing reading."
-Oscar Brockett


Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater is an engrossing backstage account of the life of pioneering director Margaret Webster (1905-72).

This is the first book-length biography of Webster, a groundbreaking stage and opera director whose career challenged not only stage tradition but also mainstream attitudes toward professional women.

Often credited with first having brought Shakespeare to Broadway, and renowned for her bold casting of an African American (Paul Robeson) in the role of Othello, Webster was a creative force in modern American and British theater.

Her story reveals the independent-minded artist undeterred by stage tradition and unmindful of rules about a woman's place in the professional theater. In addition to providing fascinating glimpses into Webster's personal and family life, Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater also offers a who's-who list of the biggest names in New York and London theater of the time, as well as Hollywood: John Gielgud, NoŽl Coward, George Bernard Shaw, Uta Hagen, Sybil Thorndike, Eva LeGallienne, and John Barrymore, among others, all of whom crossed paths with Webster. Capping Webster's amazing story is her investigation by Senator Joseph McCarthy and HUAC, which left her unable to work for a year, and from which she never fully recovered.

 

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Margaret Webster: a life in the theater

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A well-documented and -written biography immerses the reader in the people and world surrounding its subject, and this first full-scale study of British theater director Margaret Webster does just ... Read full review

Contents

Chronology yja Introduction
1
ACT ONE G9 19051936
5
An Itinerant Childhood
7
Serious Beginnings
27
The Old Vic and the West End
44
ACT Two si 19371949
61
Broadway Nights
63
Giants and Pygmies
85
ACT THREE GQ 19501972
190
Life at the Opera
191
McCarthy
223
Unfinished Business
257
Losing Batrles
282
Epilogue
305
Notes
313
Selected Bibliography
337

Batrle of Angels
108
The Making of Othello
131
CHAPTERS The American Repertory Theatre
155

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About the author (2004)

Milly Barranger is Alumni Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was formerly Chairman of the Department of Dramatic Arts and Producing Director of the PlayMakers Repertory Company at the University of North Carolina.

Bibliographic information