From my personal archives. I’m in the mood to share something today. 🙂
Washington and Lee is a fine old American university. At least that’s what I hear; I never studied there. My own (liberal) education began under quite different tutelage: that of Lawrence and Lee.
Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee were one of the great playwright partnerships of the American theatre, probably best known for Inherit The Wind (1955) — to this day one of the most-produced plays in America — which, along with other classic works from the ’50s like Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, was part of the nation’s arts community’s rejection of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his odious -ism.
The team went on to write The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail (1970), their response to the Vietnam war (they were against it) and First Monday in October (1978), a play about the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, which adumbrated Sandra Day O’Connor by three years (and which explored the ideological divide between liberal and conservative Justices).
By the time I got to know any of these works, however, I was already under the spell of another of Lawrence and Lee’s creations.
Or, more correctly, adaptations. Her name was Mrs. Burnside; and if Lawrence and Lee served as my first institution of higher learning, she was unquestionably the dean, the doyenne (a word, by the way — and this is no mere coincidence — that I first encountered in connection with Molly Picon, who I had read was “the doyenne of the American Yiddish theatre”).
The world knows her better as Auntie Mame.