Gerald Weales on Indianapolis
Gerald Weales, a self-confessed 87 (and not incidentally winner of the 1964 George Jean Nathan Award) writes from Philadelphia to reminisce:
Thanks for sending the news of ATCA. Even though I am a superannuated critic—still writing but not regularly—I like to hear what is going on in the old neighborhood.
I found Lou Harry’s promise of doings in Indianapolis intriguing. Instead of his choice of opening names, I might have said that Central Indiana had given the world Booth Tarkington and Carol Lombard and ME, but the idea of Indianapolis as theater town is comforting, though hardly surprising. Since I grew up in Connersville, a short drive from Indianapolis, the big city was where I got my initiation into professional theater (give or take traveling troupes like that of B. Iden Payne, who brought Shakespeare to high schools). Thanks to the organizational skills of my older sister, I started going to plays in Indianapolis when I was still in my early teens. The offerings were first rate then, thanks to traveling companies. They ranged from classy shows like Katharine Hepburn in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY with Joseph Cotten and Van Heflin as the two men who would be played by Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart in the later movie version to classic knockabout—Olsen and Johnson in HELLZAPOPPIN! (incidentally, Ole Olsen was also an Indiana boy). In between, there were impressive shows like ARSENIC AND OLD LACE with Erich von Stroheim in the Boris Karloff role and the two lethal sisters played by Effie Shannon and Laura Hope Crews (whom you may remember as Aunt Pittypat in GONE WITH THE WIND).
For old times sake, I would like to drag my decaying body to Indianapolis for the event, but, alas, at 87, my traveling days seem to be over. I don’t even get into New York, where there are shows I would like to see. So you might send me another note, telling me how it all went. I am not sure what the Cultural Trail is, but I assume that the art museum is on it. If you haven’t visited it, do so. It was an impressive collection when last I saw it—years ago now—and I understand that much has been added to it since then.
All the best, Gerald