REDGRAVE Michael - Three Autograph & Typed Letters Signed 1954 giving details of his commitments
Michael REDGRAVE (1908-1985)Typed Letter Signed (“Michael”) to “Dear John” [John Moody, actor, director, head of drama at the Arts Council and Director of the Bristol Old Vic], suggesting his adaptation of The Aspern Papers for production by the Old Vic.
1 page 4to, Chiswick Mall, W4, 9 June 1954.
Together with a carbon copy of Moody’s reply.
Autograph card signed (“Mike”) to “My dear John” [John Moody] discussing Juliana [Redgrave’s adaptation of The Aspern Papers] and giving details of his commitments for the coming months.
3 cards, a total of 5 pages 12mo, ABC Studio, 15 July 1954.
Autograph Letter Signed (“Michael”) to “My dear John” [John Moody], giving further details of his plans and the changes thereto.
2 pages 8vo, Garrick Club, WC2, 18 October 1954.
A remarkably revealing series of letters, chronicling the work of Redgrave and his thoughts about his work.
“. . . I have had a letter from one Eric Bentley . . . suggesting that he should produce some plays for you while also lecturing . . . I don’t know him except by his books, which are brilliantly erudite . . .
I am thinking, as soon as I get it revised, of sending you a play I wrote a few years ago based on Henry James’ “The Aspern Papers”. . . I think it is a good play and so does Michael Benthall who has always wanted to produce it. It has two wonderful woman’s parts and a very long and, I suspect, somewhat thankless part for a man. I have been meaning to do it myself several times . . . But meanwhile I have to buy the rights of it every year . . . I would suggest that I would be only too happy to come and act in it myself but for two reasons: 1) you would possibly and quite rightly feel that it would be rather unsettling for your company to have a guest star dropping in for just one production; and 2) although I have not yet made any final plans for the autumn and onwards, the chances are I will not be free. However, I will send it to you when I get it revised . . .” In an autograph postscript, he adds, “And good luck in my home town!”
In his reply, Moody says that he would be “very interested indeed to read the play” and that it “would be wonderful to have you down there to play in it”.
On three of his correspondence cards, Redgrave continues the discussion on 15 July:
“Wonder if you’ve had time to look at the revised script of Juliana. It’s much strengthened, I think – though not noticeably shorter. However I see several passages that can come out for the playing . . .
My plans are gelling. I have decided to accept the Giraudoux play (new trans. By C. Fry, Clurman directing, St Hill sets, and S. Mitchell and Robert Joseph ‘producing?) they want to start rehearsing end of March. Then there is the joyous prospect of a Powell-Pressburger film of Fledermaus for late Sept of this year. That would leave me the first three months of next year to do Juliana.
I'm very concerned about trying to get Cathleen Nesbitt for the old lady. She would look magnificent and there is the added glamour of her reputed romance with Rupert Brooke. Anyway she’s a fine actress.
. . . I can see your difficulty in such an arrangement and if you think that you’d rather do the play without me or any special engagements please say so. Also if you feel it doesn’t after all fit in with your plans, I’d quite understand. In that case, I could do a short tour of it to try it out and bring it to London later. But naturally I’d like to do it at Bristol.”
Things became more complicated by 18 October, when Redgrave informed Moody that:
“The Sunday Chronicle – bless its heart – apprises me of one of my leading ladies for the Giraudoux play and makes me ring up Stephen Mitchell to ask how its all going. He now wants to start in March, rehearsing, and open 1st week in April. Before that, Fledermaus not having flitted near enough to be caught, its likely I’ll be doing Deep Blue Sea in Cinemascope with Vivien Leigh lying horizontally before the gasfire. This will take all December and January.
So I fear it means no Bristol for me and I am bitterly disappointed. I know you will be too and I can’t thank you enough for your extraordinary sweet patience over the whole time.
I feel that in the circumstances you won’t want to do Juliana and that I quite understand. . . .”
Redgrave’s Juliana was eventually produced under Henry James’s original title, The Aspern Papers, in 1959, with Redgrave as the male lead, playing at the Queen’s Theatre (now the Sondheim Theatre) in London.
Powell and Pressburger’s updated version of Fledermaus, Oh Rosalinda!, proved not to be a box office success at the time. It featured Redgrave as Eisenstein and Powell and Pressburger regular Anton Walbrook as Dr. Falke.
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