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ELMER RICE, CO-SIGNED BY: SAM JAFFE, VINCENT SHERMAN, BENNET H. CLARK, GEORGE HELLER, RACHEL HARTZELL The Board of Directors of New York City's Theatre Alliance - which included Pulitzer Prize-winner Elmer Rice and actor Sam Jaffe - signed this letter in 1935 to explain that they were dropping their Apprentice Group due to low finances.

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The Board of Directors of New York City's Theatre Alliance - which included Pulitzer Prize-winner Elmer Rice and actor Sam Jaffe - signed this letter in 1935 to explain that they were dropping their Apprentice Group due to low finances. Rice was involved in at least two attempts in the 1930s to produce low-cost theatre. He joined the Federal Theatre Project later in 1935.
Typed letter signed "Elmer Rice", "Bennett H. Clark", "Rachel Hartzell", "George Heller", "Sam Jaffe" and "Vincent Sherman" as the Board of Directors of the Theatre Alliance in New York City in black and green inks. 1 page, 8½x11, on letterhead of the Theatre Alliance in New York City, with all six signers are listed as Organizers of the Theatre Alliance. July 11, 1935. In full: "Dear Miss Leasure: Supplementing our telegram [not included], we feel that we owe a complete explanation to you of the circumstances which forced us to suspend the Apprentice Group. This Group came into existence and could only function as an integral part of the theatre itself. Therefore, everything affecting the theatre also affected the status of the Apprentice Group. FIrst [sic], the development of the program for the theatre itself assumed such proportions and required so much time and effort that it seemed unwise to try, for the first season, as least, to carry out the full program for the Apprentice Group. Such a program would have divided our work and dissipated our energies with results that would have been unsatisfactory both to the theatre and to the apprentice actors. Hence, the first decision to abandon the actors' activities. The decision to suspend entire the Apprentice Group came because of the unsettled state of the finances of Theatre Alliance. When we began, we deemed $75,000. necessary for assuring us a forty weeks' season. To date, we have not been able to raise that amount although we are still trying. We delayed action on the Apprentice Group because we hoped to work out some plan even though we did not have the full amount of money for operating the theatre, but with August 1st approaching we could not delay any longer. With the theatre having no assurance of operation for any definite length of time, due to the condition of our finances, and with the keen responsibility we feel to the apprentices, especially those who would have had to come from distant points and go to considerable expense we decided to give up for the first season, anyway, the entire Apprentice project. Believe us that we regret being forced to make such a drastic decision and know well the disappointment it will cause, but we feel that an honest statement will convince our apprentices of the integrity and soundness of our intentions. In the event that, at some later date, we find that the Apprentice Group can be satisfactorily organized, those whose applications were accepted will be given the first opportunity to join the Group if they still desire to do so. Meanwhile, we are returning herewith your check for $50. Very truly yours, THEATRE ALLIANCE". Rice was involved in several attempts to provide low-cost theatre, often with leftist or social commentary, in the mid-1930s. The immediate predecessor of the Theatre Alliance was the Theatre Union, which produced socially-relevant plays to working class audiences. After the Theatre Union's demise in 1934, he helped to organize the Theatre Alliance in 1935. Its mission wasn't as overtly political as the Theatre Union and primarily aimed to create a non-profit repertory company that would provide low-cost plays and develop social consciousness in playwrights. Bothgroups failed due in part to a lack of funds and despite heavy fundraising efforts by Rice and Jaffe, as this letter demonstrates. But the third time was the charm for Rice; he later became heavily involved in the Federal Theatre Project, a New Deal program that lasted from 1935 to 1939, serving as Regional Director of the Federal Theatre in New York City (1935-1936). American playwright RICE (1892-1967, born Elmer L Reizenstein in New York City) had his first success with On Trial (1914). Rice, who won the 1929 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Street Scene, also wrote novels, essays and screenplays, including the screenplay for Holiday Inn (1942). From 1942 to 1956, he was married to stage and screen actress Betty Field, with whom he had three children. JAFFE (1891-1984) specialized in portraying eccentric characters. His most prominent roles came early, in such films as Lost Horizon (1937), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Asphalt Jungle (for which he earned an Oscar nomination in 1950), but he continued in strong supporting roles until shortly before his death from cancer. He played Dr. Zorba on the medical drama Ben Casey (1961-1966), which also featured his wife, Bettye Ackerman. SHERMAN (1906-2006, born Abraham Orovitz in Vienna, Georgia) got his start on the stage - he had 12 acting and directing credits between 1928 and 1937 - but spent most of his career in movies and TV. He got his start in Warner Brothers' B-movie unit and gradually worked his way into main attractions with A-list stars like Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Sherman's career was derailed around 1952 by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which "gray-listed" him for his involvement with the WPA, a New Deal program. But he rebounded, and was directing for movies and TV by 1959. In all, he has over 50 movies and TV shows to his credit, including Medical Center (1969-1979), and 6 screenwriting credits. HELLER was a stage actor with 25 acting credits on Broadway between 1924 and 1938, including the Grand Street Follies of 1924 to 1929 and minor roles in the original Broadway productions of Threepenny Opera (1933), Waiting for Lefty (1935) and You Can't Take It With You (1935-1938). He also coproduced Deep Are The Roots (1945-1946). CLARK (1890-1953) was a playwright, translator and drama critic. He has a single Broadway credit, as a translator for a 1932 production of Romain Rolland's Wolves. HARTZELL was a stage actor with 6 Broadway credits between 1931 and 1939. Lightly toned, stained and creased. Discoloration from mounting in corners (do not touch signature). Paper loss along left edge. Light tears in top, left and right edges. Folded once vertically and four times, horizontally. Otherwise in fine condition.

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