Harold Clurman


Harold Clurman (1901-1980) was a respected American theatrical director, actor and drama critic. He attended Columbia University and University of Paris where he received his degree in 1923. In 1924, Clurman made his acting debut as an extra with the Greenwich Village Theatre. Clurman was also a founding member of the Group Theatre, begun in 1931, along with the directors Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg. The organization started with the specific mission to perform American plays of social significance.

Clurman began teaching at the New School for Social Research during the spring semester of 1933 with a course entitled The World of Theatre. It consisted of twelve lectures that explored acting, drama, and scenes–all analyzed from the standpoint of audience conception. This course provided theatre lovers with conscious appreciation, and those working in theatre with a basis for more methodical work. Some points of discussion were the social-cultural basis of theatrical unity, theatrical productions as works of art, the roles of playwrights, actors and directors, problems in the technique of acting, and the theatre in America.

Clurman was also a guest speaker for the New School Contemporary Theatre, which was comprised of six symposiums held on Saturday mornings in the New School Auditorium at 66 W. 12th Street in 1935. The symposiums had a different theme each week–from playwriting, dramatic criticism, the director, the actor, the stage designer to the audience. Plays that were showcased included Maxwell Anderson’s Winterset, the Theatre Guild’s The Taming of the Shrew, the Theatre Union’s Mother, a newer production from Group Theatre, and two plays chosen from the season’s best productions. Clurman was also a guest speaker and lecturer for the New School’s Dramatic Workshop in the 1940s, under the direction of Erwin Piscator.

While still teaching at the New School, Clurman became a drama critic for The New Republic (1948-52), and The Nation (1953-80). Due to his successful teaching and fifty-five-year Broadway career, a theatre was named after him in the late 1970s: the Harold Clurman Theatre at 410 W. 42nd street is still in use today. His legacy and his teaching methods are also still in practice at the Harold Clurman Laboratory Theater Company, a part of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City.

“Harold Clurman: A Life of Theatre.” Public Broadcasting Station. 2 December 2003. Accessed on 30 March 2019. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/harold-clurman-about-harold-clu…

“Harold Clurman”  Encyclopedia Britannica. 14 September 2018. Accessed on 1 April 2019.  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Harold-Clurman

New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y. : 1919-1997). The New School For Social Research Bulletin No. 12 – April 13, 1936. April 13 1936. The New School Bulletin. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive. Web. 07 Apr 2019.