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Magic Time, A Memoir, Notes on Theatre & Other Entertaiments

Magic Time, A Memoir, Notes on Theatre & Other Entertaiments

by Edwin Wilson


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Edwin Wilson was the theatre critic for the Wall Street Journal from 1972-1994 and for over half a century he has been the pre-eminent author of college theatre textbooks in the U.S. His three volumes, Living Theatre: A History of Theatre, Theatre: The Lively Art (both co-written with Alvin Goldfarb), and The Theatre Experience have appeared in thirty-one editions and sold well over half a million copies. It has been said that he has educated more people about the theatre than Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, and Uta Hagen combined. In his new memoir, Wilson takes readers on a highly entertaining journey through an extraordinary life in theatre. The book begins with Wilson's earliest foray into playwriting, with a high school friend who would go on to become the most successful composer of advertising jingles in the country, then moves on to Yale Drama School where as a young man Wilson studied under Robert Penn Warren, witnessed the first ever production of My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and a then-unknown Julie Andrews, and bartended at a birthday party for Thornton Wilder, where he engaged the legendary playwright in a conversation about The Merchant of Yonkers. Upon obtaining the the newly-created degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, from Yale, (the first ever DFA awarded by Yale) Wilson moved to New York and began what would become a lifetime of varied work in the theatre, beginning as an assistant to the daring producer Lewis Allen, where he had a hand a production of Big Fish, Little Fish, for which director John Gielgud won a Tony Award, and the film version of Lord of the Flies, directed by Peter Brook. Wilson went on to direct a season at the famed Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, where Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal and Hume Cronyn and had all acted during the Depression and at Theatre-By-the-Sea in Rhode Island. After directing he turned to producing, at first off-Broadway and then on, when he co-produced the Broadway play Agatha Sue, I Love You, directed by the legendary George Abbott. Wilson began teaching at Hunter College and later at the CUNY Graduate Center, remaining at these posts for more than forty years. Shortly after beginning at Hunter College, his first theatre review, a positive notice for the play Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, appeared in the Wall Street Journal on April 21, 1972 and for the next twenty-three years he was the publication's drama reviewer, covering theatre in New York, around the United States and abroad. When Wilson began writing for the Wall Street Journal and writing his first book, The Theatre Experience, he was writing against a background of remarkable achievements in American theatre. In addition, American theatre had created the modern musical, with the first, Showboat, appearing in 1927 and then with George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in 1935. This was the heritage and legacy of American theatre into which Wilson stepped when he first began writing about theatre in 1972. During his tenure at the newspaper, he would witness yet more monumental changes to the theatre scene, including the arrival and recognition of women playwrights as a significant part of the theatre scene; the transformation of choreographers into directors of musicals; the emergence of the off- and off-off-Broadway movement; the consolidation and strengthening of regional theatre; the invasion of Broadway by large-scale British musicals. Magic Time is a term used by actors to describe a performance, but it also refers to the magic that occurs between actors and their audience. Edwin Wilson's MAGIC TIME is a love letter to American theatre and to the American theatrical experience through the eyes of one of its most dedicated chroniclers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781575259420
Publisher: Smith & Kraus, Inc.
Publication date: 08/25/2020
Pages: 311
Sales rank: 604,938
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Author, teacher, critic, Ed Wilson began his career in theatre as the Producer's Assistant of a Broadway play directed by John Gielgud and the film Lord of the Flies directed by Peter Brook. He directed a season at the Barter Theatre in Virginia and produced plays off-Broadway and co-produced the Broadway play Agatha Sue, I Love You directed by George Abbott. He also produced the film The Nashville Sound. Educated at Vanderbilt, the University of Edinburgh and Yale, he received the first Doctor of Fine Arts degree awarded by Yale. From 1972 to 1995 he was the theatre critic for The Wall Street Journal for 23 years and for 45 years he served on the faculty at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center for nearly half a century. During that time he became the pre-eminent author of college theatre textbooks in the U.S. His previous activities also included serving as President of the New York Drama Critics Circle, Chairman of the Theatre Development Fund and several Pulitzer Prize juries. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he conducted 90 half-hour television interviews with virtually every important theatre figure of the late 20th century from George Abbott to Jerry Zaks. Called Spotlight, the series appeared on CUNY-TV in New York and more than 200 PBS stations nationwide. It can be seen today on YouTube. In his noteworthy memoir Wilson gives us a penetrating, engaging, witty, incisive account of his singular adventures in and out of the theatre.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER ONE - The Early Years


CHAPTER THREE - Brooklyn Heights and Broadway

CHAPTER FOUR - Directing and Producing

CHAPTER FIVE - Quogue/The Coffee House/Trips Abroad

CHAPTER SIX - The Accidental Author, Part I

CHAPTER SEVEN - The Accidental Author, Part II

CHAPTER EIGHT - The American Theatre Emerges

CHAPER NINE - High Drama and Low Comedy

CHAPTER TEN - Theatre in the 21st Century





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