Three Plays: Awake and Sing, Waiting for Lefty, 'Til the Day I Die

New York: Covici-Friede, 1935. First edition, second issue of Odet’s first book, containing his first three plays, “Awake and Sing!,” “Waiting for Lefty,” and “Till the Day I Die,” all of which were written for and premiered by the Group Theatre in the first half of 1935.

Copy belonging to Emanuel "Manny" Fried, an understudy to Group Theatre co-founder Harold Clurman in the earliest days of its existence. Fried who went on to both write and produce plays, would eventually refuse to testify at the HUAC hearings and be blacklisted.

INSCRIBED to Fried by Odets on the half-title: "At the end of a long season, Sincerely, Clifford Odets. 7/13/35." Also signed round-robin with inspirational quotations by 25 other individuals. Nearly all were founding members of the Group Theatre, involved in its earliest productions, and nearly all went on to have major careers on the stage and in cinema. Included among the inscriptions are:

John Garfield (who signs under his given name of Jules, “Spit on your hands and get to work”);

Vincent Sherman (at this point an actor, but who would become a major Hollywood director; he makes mention here of his performance in a key 1933 film: “We both share in ‘Counsellor-at-Law” / From one good communist to another / Vincent Sherman”);

Elia Kazan (at this point working as an actor with only a bit part in one of the three plays);

Stella Adler (actress, and later influential acting teacher of Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, and Robert De Niro, among others, “Work hard, study hard, and someday you will play such parts as Bessie Berger”);

J. Edward Bromberg (character actor, Red Channels list, 1950; “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush! Remember I said it—Good nite! and good luck. / J.E. Bromberg”);

Luther Adler (character actor, blacklisted 1950, “You get what it takes, then they don’t catch you with your pants down / Luther Adler / 7/13/35”);

Abner Biberman (character actor and later director, “Hope to write my name in your book someday”);

Morris Carnovsky (character actor, blacklisted 1950);

Actress Paula Miller (blacklisted 1950, later married Lee Strasberg and became Paula Strasberg, noted as an acting teacher and for being Marilyn Monroe’s acting coach and confidante);

Sanford Meisner (actor and later one of the great acting teachers, whose more famous students included Robert Duvall, Grace Kelly, and Diane Keaton, “I’m a very ancient fossil —but life’s ahead of you. Go and do it. Thus Spake Sandy.”).

Also included are signatures from Roman Bohnen (blacklisted 1950), Walter Coy, Lewis Leverett (blacklisted 1950), Phoebe Brand (blacklisted 1950),Dorothy Patten, William Challee, Russell Collins, Dorothy Patten, Herbert Ratner, Ruth Nelson, Eunice Stoddard, Alexander Kirkland, costume designer Paul Morrison (signing here as Pete Morrison), Margaret Barber, Bob Lewis, and Harry Stone.

The Group Theatre's importance to twentieth century drama and acting is difficult to overestimate. By some margin, the most significant document in book form from its early history we have ever encountered.

In a custom clamshell box with maroon cloth and black calf quarter binding, titles in gilt.

Very Good in an about Very Good, price-clipped dust jacket. Binding slightly shaken, minor soil to the top page edges. Jacket has a conservator's repair along the rear hinge fold, with some chipping at the spine ends and extremities.

[Book #145552]