Elizabeth Gunto, staff writer
The Pulitzer Prize winning play You Can’t Take it with You, written by George F. Kaufman and Moss Hark, will be showing at Kittredge Theater, starting its run on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and ending on Sunday, The play is about a strange family surviving during the Great Depression. It is a comedic, three-act play written in 1936. The play debuted in Dec. of year at Booth Theater, where the play showed 837 times. The main themes of the play concern the nature of madness and happiness.
Junior Rachel Thomas-Levy, assistant directing for the first time, said that she was really excited to direct, but she was nervous because she wasn’t sure what an assistant director exactly does or how much of her opinion she should give. By the end of the play, however, Thomas-Levy said that she “found her groove” and enjoyed being the assistant director.
Since You Can’t Take it with You is such a commonly done play, Thomas-Levy was skeptical at first when she heard that the school was performing it.
“It seemed typical for Warren Wilson, but after thinking about the play, the play’s context, whether I believed the play’s message…It really made me think,” Thomas-Levy said. “It seemed cheesy to us, but our goal was that the acting would be so natural that it wouldn’t seem cheesy [to audiences].”
She said the hardest part of the production was getting everyone to work as an ensemble, because the cast and crew are so large. Performing for ensemble plays isn’t “how people practice for plays normally in college, but it will make [the play] seem more heart-felt and put together. We all learned together. There were some definite rough patches, but I feel we have a bond now.”
Another issue with You Can’t Take it with You is the context of the play. Two of the characters in the original play are two stereotypically black household servants. In the Warren Wilson version of the play, the two black servants have been replaced with two Irish immigrants servants; a decision that Ron Bashford made. Irish immigration was a hot topic when the play was written, so the Irish immigrants fit in well, Rachel said.
The play was first written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Kaufman was a major figure in the Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers, critics, and humorists in the 1920s. (Another member was writer and poet Dorothy Parker.) Moss Hart was an accomplished theater director and playwright. Kaufman and Hart wrote many plays together, most of which were very successful critically and commercially. You Can’t Take It With You is the pair’s most famous play.
You Can’t Take it with You won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and it is Moss Hart’s most performed play. The film version won the Best Picture Oscar and Best Director Oscar for Frank Capra when it was adapted for the screen in 1938; it won two out of seven nominations. The film was nominated in five other categories. The film version starred James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, and Edward Arnold.