It was a very exciting week for all of us, but especially for me. The production came together beautifully during that week of rehearsal. Louis was a wonderful Stanley… Ann Marie Barlow was a terrific Stella and Miss Twelvetrees was 'The Real' Blanche, in every way. I never did find out what her personal story was but it was certainly all in her face and persona, so that what she brought to the play was a unique quality. She didn't have to worry about 'acting', all she had to do was 'be', and it worked like gangbusters for this play... (she had some problems remembering lines...I recall one particular performance she skipped about seven or eight pages, but somehow we got back on track) But she was a 'professional', and because she was such an emotionally fragile woman her Blanche was deeply deeply touching. And in fact, it broke your heart. Like I said, she truly was Blanche.
This week of "Streetcar" was very successful for Sea Cliff and audiences literally ate it up! It was incredibly exciting for me to have my first paying job as an actress be in this great great play and with such a lovely and talented cast, particularly the tragic Helen Twelvetrees. It was a memorable week, in every respect.
Just seven years after that summer poor sweet shattered Helen Twelvetrees, died by her own hand. Whatever her demons were, (and I guess they were manifold), they seemed to overtake her as time went on and eventually she lost her battle with them….One wonders if at that time all the very wonderful medications that are available today had been available to her, perhaps she would not have killed herself but would have lived her life somehow not just barely treading water but with a certain joy, continuing to be a working contributing artist. We’ll never know. But her death was most certainly a terrible terrible loss.
And that particular few weeks of my life were terribly important to my growth as an artist and as a human being. To have the privelage to be in such a brilliant play was a true reward, in and of itself, plus the entire experience of working with such dedicated people who brought such care and "professionalism" to their work, was for me at such a young age, an exquisite moment in time. And the three summers I spent at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre gave me a grounding in the seriousness of 'the work' and the great great rewards of 'the doing of the work for the works sake'....and that THAT was the greatest reward of being a creative artist in the theatre....
Lucky Lucky Me!
Wow, what an amazing story! Bob Fosse? Really?! You have such memories - no wonder you have a blog. You have many, many stories to tell! Thanks for sharing!
Michele sent me!
I always enjoy your stories, I am only afraid not to find the right words to say after such fine reading! I am so glad you have your blog!
I'm with Mar...what can a lowly commoner like myself add to something like that?! Holy cow, what a great post...that's about as good as I can do for now. =)
What a rewarding, shine and amazing life and narrative, Naomi.
May I make a suggestion? Write a book! You have such interesting and vivid memories! I bet that your book will be a best seller!
Lovely story Naomi! How thrilling that must have been for you! You have led an exciting life. I look forward to reading each new post.
I am a first time visitor to your wonderful world. I truly enjoyed your post. I can't wait to read more.
Here's to "the great great rewards of 'the doing of the work for the works sake'"
Ciao for now...
You have such a rich treasure of experiences. I'm glad you no longer suffer from a fear of screaming.
I love your stories! I think I would have been very shy about screaming, too. Wonderful wonderful post.
I so love your long stories Naomi, I always come away wishing you were my aunt or a relative of that ilk so I could listen to you tell you stories over and over.
I feel jetlagged today after watching far too many hours of E ! yesterday , I am always looking around in the background at the red carpet to see if I can spot familiar faces LOL
Naomi, I really love reading your stories, which are immensely interesting to someone who had no hand in anything related to theater.
What I remember about the name Helen Twelvetrees is that Johnny Carson, in his movie skits, would always mention Helen Twelvetrees as one of the cast members. He used to crack me up - so I remember that quite well.
I always loved that play.
Madness and desire and depression. It spoke of heavy things in only the way T. Williams could.
I bet you got horse practicing that scream!
Michele sent me today!
I am truly in awe at this post, AND the one below it!
WOW. You are an interesting lady for sure.
Wow, it all sounds such FUN! I am so glad that you said what you said about being a child and seeing something that was fairly racy. I have always felt that children don't catch the verbal innuendo of quite a lot..
I loved the screaming story too and have this wonderful picture of you both walking to lunch and you making periodic screams along the way....
Thank you so much for sharing so much - it is a privilege to read it..
i love your stories!
here from micheles tonight
You take so much time & care with each story you take. And I love the respect you've given to Helen Twelvetrees. Reading this posts is like reliving something that I haven't lived before. Isn't that odd? But you retell these stories that it feels I'm walking down memory lane, yet they aren't my memories. You just make them feel as though they are.
What a great story!!! I recognized Helen Twelvetrees' name immediately (who could forget that name once you've heard it?).
I can totally relate to the fear of screaming (and find it fascinating that you did Primal Therapy. A friend of mine lived downstairs from a PT studio. Can you imagine?). Anyway, I think we're afraid to scream because of the complete "letting go"... for me it would feel like opening a floodgate and who-knows-what would come out afterwards.
Love the story, and thanks too for your comments on my 'spanking" blog entry. I'm mad as hell and have started writing letters to the Times and to politicians. I'm on a crusade, babe.
Wow, what a fascinating story.
I love "Streetcar", I've only seen the film.
You even manage to imbue tragedy with a certain sense of hope and purpose.
I'm in awe that one of my favorite plays was so pivotal to your career. I'd adore hearing you tell these experiences in person. This is so generous of you to share here.
It's a thrill to read your recollections of the Sea Cliff Summer Theatre. I remember the building well, as I lived a few blocks away, on the opposite end of Main Avenue.
Your photograph of the actors working outside the theatre is fascinating, and I recognize the theatre in the background. My memories date from my boyhood in the late 50s, by which time the theatre had been abandoned, and the building and its environs were overgrown. We used to peek through the windows into the rotting theatre and try to imagine it full of life.
Until now, I never knew that the Sea Cliff Summer Theatre was so vibrant and influential in its day.
To think that the Gabor sisters were jabbering away in Hungarian and Billy Strayhorn was playing the piano right down the street while I was playing stickball a few blocks away!
The Summer Theatre burned down later during my youth, and houses took its place. The next time I'm visiting my hometown, I'll make a point of waling down Main Avenue to revisit the neighborhood that you've brought to life so well.
In case you should come back Frank..so very glad to hear from someone who actually grew up in Sea Cliff...Yes! That theatre was an amazing place and some of THE Greats played there and worked there, too...
I will be writing more about Sea Cliff and some of the wonderful experiences I had there, as I blog along...It was a very wonderful time in so very many ways...
Thanks for leaving a comment for me....I wish you had a Blog and I could visit you!
I hope you will write some more about your summer theatre experiences in Sea Cliff.
Sea Cliff was originally a church campground. You can click here for a link to some photos and history of the German tabernacle and adjoining building that became the summer theatre and living quarters for the summer staff.
You'll note there is confusion as to whether the fire was in 1956 or 1965. I'm confused too, but the pictures are good, as are the many others at this site.
Thanks for your memories.
This is for FRANK, once again..If you do come back...(And I hope you do...)
I LOVED those photographs of the Tabernacle/Theatre. I do remember being told that it had been a kind of Church...but I do not remember being told about the building where, indeed, all the apprentices and some actors as well, lived while they workd at Sea Cliff.( A few of us who lived close enough to Sea Cliff that first summer, commuted-- a wonderfully talented young man who lived in the same town as me, Great Neck....we both would commute together...with one of us driving the both of us..so we did NOT live in that old crumbling place...Thank God!).
I was at Sea Cliff for three summers altogether, two as an Apprentice and then the last summer, I worked in the Box Office....That Box Office almost did me in! So, that was my last summer there...
But I will definitely be writing more, Frank..So I hope you will come back...Here is my email, if you would like to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do get in touch, and Thank You Sooooo very very much for that link! It was wonderful to see all those photo's and to read about the history.
Helen Twelvetrees was mobbed in Australia when she was imported by Cinesound Studios to be the star of their modestly budgeted epic, Thoroughbred, in 1936. She was overwhelmed by the adulation. I've wondered what became of her, after her Hollywood ambitions faded. Your story about Streetcar is fascinating, well done. Blogs like yours make web surfing worthwhile and rewarding.
Name: OldOldLady Of The Hills
Location: Los Angeles, California