The Masters
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Submitted by Lou Volpe
Supplied by David Gale

New York and London
By: Ursula Jeans and Roger Livesey

From: The Old Vic and Sadler's Wells Magazine, 1939

     You ask us for our impressions of New York. Well New York is a very strange place. But you all know that already, and photographs of it will give you a better idea of its outward appearance then we ever could by description.

     The audiences in New York are markedly different from English audiences. The American is very critical and has a much keener love of satire than the Englishman, but he does not always appreciate humour to the same extent.

     This curious difference we can only attribute to the immigration from other European countries, especially the large proportion of people over there who are descended from the Latin races. They still keep certain national traits, and their sense of humour is certainly one of them.

     Now in tragedy the response of the New York audience is whole-hearted and homogeneous. That is, if they approve of the play and of the acting, because, as we have already remarked, they are a very critical lot, and if they don't like a show they just walk out.

     There are plenty of things to interest you in New York. Some things seem a little strange, but from seeing Americanlife on the films, they do not strike one so much nowadays as they would have done, say, twenty years or more ago.

     We are afraid that our impressions of New York are dominated or overwhelmed by one important event in our lives which happened there. We were, as usual, nearly late for that event, but not quite too late, and we got married. Our sole witness was Ruth Gordon, who, you will proably always remember, was so captivating in Tyrone guthrie's brilliant production of "The Country Wife" at the beginning of last season.

     But in our haste we had set out for this important ceremony quite unprovided with the American wherewithal for the celebration afterwards. When we took Ruth Gordon to have lunch this sorry state of affairs was discovered, and we had to borrow the money from her.

     Well, you can imagine it is very wonderful for us to find ourselves playing together at the Old Vic again, under the circumstances, back again with the most enthusiastic and sensitive audiences in the world. Only, if we might say so, we did rather wish that "An Enemy of the People" had been more generally popular, although those who came to see it loved it as much as we did ourselves.

     Still, when we get back to Shakespeare, with "The Taming of the Shrew", we do hope all that will be altered, and that we shall see the packed houses we used to have. We roar with laughter ourselves at rehearsals, but of course there is a tradition that if the cast does that, nobody else will think it funny. But that can't happen in a theatre like the Old Vic surely.

     We saw the Lunts do "The Shrew" in New York, so we have a high standard before us, but we shall enjoy ourselves so much more if we hear all our old friends having a good time too. And bring your friends, and your friends' friends with you.

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