Of Mice and Men: Steinbeck's Classic, Produced By Actors Theatre of San Francisco
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The last date listed for Of Mice and Men was Saturday November 29, 2008 / 8:00pm.
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Hershey Felder has previously performed as George Gershwin, Beethoven and Chopin, and in Hershey… More
In celebration of nineteen seasons of great theatre and opening its twentieth season, Actors Theatre of San Francisco is reviving its landmark production of the beloved American classic Of Mice and Men.
Set in 1930s Salinas, two drifters, George and his friend Lennie, arrive at a ranch, hoping to earn enough money to fulfill their dream of living off the fat of the land. Their dream captures the imagination of other workers on the ranch, only to be shattered later by a tragic mistake.
Lennie, a little boy in the body of a dangerously powerful man, is obsessed with things soft and cuddly. This has made George cautious about who the gentle giant associates with and he promises to allow Lennie to “tend to the rabbits” on their future land to keep Lennie calm and reassured. But when a ranch boss’ wife is found dead in the barn, it’s obvious that Lennie, albeit accidentally, killed her. Realizing they can’t run away anymore, George is faced with a moral question: how should he deal with Lennie before the ranchers find him and take matters into their own hands.
The first stage adaptation, directed by George S. Kaufman and starring Wallace Ford (George) and Broderick Crawford (Lennie), opened on Broadway in 1937 and ran for 207 performances. Leigh Whipper performed the role of Crooks; Whipper was the first African-American member for Actors Equity Association and also repeated this role in the 1939 film version. Of Mice and Men was chosen as Best Play in 1938 by the New York Critics Circle. In 1939, the production moved to Los Angeles with Lon Chaney, Jr. taking on the role of Lennie. Chaney’s performance landed him the role in the movie as well. In 1974, Of Mice and Men, was revived on Broadway starring Kevin Conway and James Earl Jones.
Of Mice and Men was adapted to film several times: in 1939 when it was nominated for four Oscars, in 1981 as a TV movie, and again in 1992 when Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, who performed George and Lennie in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 1980 production, brought it to film once again; Sinise also directed the 1992 film.
John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) is one of the best-known and most widely read American writers of the 20th century. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories. In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place. Steinbeck found an authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.
Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.
Seventeen of his works, including Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, The Pearl, and East of Eden, went on to become Hollywood films. Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.