West Side Story Production History Theatre Essay

It is about an East London adolescent who became a drug trader and a knife-wielding member of a street pack, and who was reported as faulting his manner of life on ‘the transmutation of his vicinity into an cultural minority ghetto where sod warfare readily flourished ‘ . The writer besides reports that ‘nowhere is the cultural footing of packs more apparent than in London, where the cultural hodgepodge is the most complicated in Britain. Harmonizing to new figures, in the borough of Brent there is an 85 % opportunity that any two people chosen at random would belong to different cultural groups ‘ . ‘Bangladeshis, Somalis, Pakistanis, Afro-Caribbeans and Turks have all formed their ain packs who are every bit likely to contend each other as they are to assail or be attacked by white hoods ‘ . ( The Sunday Times, Shiv Malik, 08/10/2006 )

I have retained certain features of the original as an audience might more readily be drawn to something which they already have a ‘feel ‘ for. The two rival packs, the Stratford Sharks, largely first & A ; 2nd coevals Black British, and the Stepney Jets, a group of preponderantly white British subjects, are involved in a drugs war where both are contending for control of an country of East London non far from the 2012 Olympics site.

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Production History of the 1957 version

West Side Story had started life back in 1949 when Jerome Robbins offered Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents the chance to join forces on a musical version of Romeo and Juliet, suggesting to his co-conspirators that a more modern-day secret plan, focal point on the struggle between a Roman Catholic household of Italian American heritage, and a Judaic household from the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He besides suggested that it deal chiefly with the issues raised by the antisemitism of the Catholics and bitterness of the Jews.

Laurents wrote a first bill of exchange which he called East Side Story but scruples over the secret plan and jobs with musicalness led to the undertaking being shelved for around five old ages.

Although the three ‘friends ‘ were often in contact with each other during the 1950ss but ever sing other undertakings, it was merely after a opportunity conversation between Laurents & A ; Bernstein about juvenile delinquent packs ( who were having major imperativeness coverage at the clip ) , that they thought to make over East Side Story and subsequently, after much treatment, finally settle on the Puerto Rican/Harlem subject and it ‘s Latin round.

It is deserving observing that one time into production, and reasonably much throughout the clip the dramatis personae were in dry run manner, the local newspapers were full of articles about pack warfare, and Robbins kept the cast members of the two packs separate, detering them from socialising with each other as he tried to arouse pragmatism from his immature dramatis personae.

Their work loads at the clip were rather heavy but with one or two other undertakings dropping by the roadside, they were able to give more clip to the phase musical. It was besides around this clip that a immature lyrist named Stephen Sondheim came on board, the drama by so holding been re-titled ‘West Side Story ‘ , and its ‘ gap at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957, marked his Broadway introduction.

Although it has frequently been charged with altering the full class of the American musical theater, it opened to a assorted reaction. The reappraisal of the premiere were divided, although all critics agreed that this was one of the most unusual plant of commercial amusement of all time staged – unusual in the realistic subject of the show, the new vocabulary designed for cosmopolitan entreaty, and the deficiency of a happy stoping.

TIME Magazine exclaimed “ Robbins ‘ energetic stage dancing and Bernstein ‘s expansive mark accentuate the satiric, hard-edged wordss of Sondheim and Laurents ‘ gaining control of the angry voice of urban young person. ” New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson described the show as “ deeply traveling ; an candent piece of work where theatre people, engrossed in an original undertaking, are all in top signifier. ”

( For web site beginnings refer to Appendix 1 )

Set in 50 ‘s New York, the musical seeks to research the cultural & A ; cultural differences of two rival street packs against a background of violent clangs between the two cabals. The Sharks are the first coevals boies & A ; girls of Puerto Rican immigrants and The Jets are a white group who consider themselves the true Americans.

Taking the subject of ‘Romeo and Juliet ‘ , and to boot concentrating on the societal jobs of the 50 ‘s, the narrative unfolds around the love matter of the two ‘star-crossed ‘ lovers from the rival packs.

Tony, a Jet, falls in love with Maria, the sister of The Sharks leader Bernardo. As their love flowers, tensenesss between the two rival groups saddle horse, and shortly both they and their friends are involved in a unsafe and finally fatal confrontation.

The original 1957 Broadway production was nominated for six ‘Tony ‘ awards including three for performing artists in starring functions, Larry Kert, Carol Lawrence and Chita Rivera. Unfortunately it won merely two awards, one for Robbins ‘ groundbreaking Choreography and the other for Best Scenic Design. It besides missed out on Best Musical.

Finally running for 732 public presentations, it so made a successful passage both nationally and internationally, with the show holding an even longer tally of 1039 public presentations in London ‘s West End following its ‘ successful gap at Her Majesty ‘s Theatre in December 1958. The audience were enraptured and the critics blown off. In London, this chef-d’oeuvre was given the testimonial it deserved.

In April 1960 the original returned to Broadway for another successful tally.

Its ‘ widespread international success besides led to the ‘ large screen ‘ , with the superb award-winning 1961 movie directed by Robert Wise & A ; Jerome Robbins, and starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in the prima functions, finally walking off with 10s out of 11 ‘Oscar ‘ nominations.

Society in the 1950 ‘s

The 1950 ‘s was a clip of major revolution for the United States, characterized by increased wealth for many, giving rise to high degrees of ingestion and a roar in population, but at the same clip increasing the divide between the rich and the hapless of American society.

Prosperity and wealth led Americans to get down households earlier and with progresss in scientific discipline & A ; medical specialty and longer life anticipation, the birth rate grew steadily, with the population turning from approximately 150 to 180 million at its ‘ extremum in 1957.

The economic system flourished during the fiftiess with industrial growing support scientific and technological progresss. The chemical & A ; electronics industries both boomed and computing machine production advanced quickly.

In Agriculture, progresss in scientific discipline and engineering reduced the sum of work needed to successfully turn harvests, and large concerns flourished on the dorsum of mechanization, with monolithic corporations absorbing their competition and forming pudding stones.

Fossil fuel ingestion skyrocketed and the car industry took off with Americans purchasing some 60 million autos during the decennary, with the ensuing addition in mobility and handiness contributing to the rise of motels, fast-food eating houses, gas Stationss, and most notably the rise of Suburbia.

Some 18 million Americans, preponderantly in-between — category and wealthy, moved off from the congestion of the metropoliss for the outlying suburbs which offered a cleaner, more friendly, and much safer environment, but they left behind more than one-fifth of the state ‘s population still populating below the poorness line. Historically made up of black and immigrant peoples, the of all time increasing figure now included a volatile mix of Hispanic and Native Americans, who had migrated to the metropoliss when unable to happen work in rural countries. Unable to acquire the support they needed, civilizations clashed and the life conditions in the metropoliss quickly deteriorated.

Culture of the 1950 ‘s

This was a polar clip in U.S. history, when matrimony and domesticity became the primary end for most households, and was backed up by the instruction system. Geting married was put in front of a University instruction for most adult females with work forces expected to be the breadwinners. Women ( even those who worked ) assumed their proper topographic point was to be at place. As the state developed through the decennary, with the coming of the Cold War, and the outgrowth of the U.S. as one of the universe ‘s two world powers, Americans were challenged to accommodate and the importance of household and faith came really much to the bow.

Education besides made immense springs in front, in peculiar, the move off from ‘separate but equal ‘ chances for inkinesss. In 1954 the Supreme Court wrote that separate installations for inkinesss did non do those installations equal, and integrating was borne.

Television dominated American civilization during the 1950s, showing a stereotypic image of the happy, comfortable American household. What was portrayed on telecasting became recognized as normal. Families worked, played and vacationed together. Cars were seen as an index of prosperity. More leisure clip and greater general prosperity led to greater engagement in athletic activities for the mean individual and added big Numberss of fans to all types of sports.A

Manner was reasonably conservative with work forces typically have oning grey flannel suits and adult females frocks with pinched in waists and high heels. Adolescents on the other manus were less conservative to set it mildly, influenced as they were by the histrion James Dean, who wore bluish denims in Rebel Without a Cause and who created a manner and attitude esthesis. They were defined as a separate coevals.

In literature, a figure of authors, members of the alleged “ all in coevals, ” rebelled against conventional values. Stressing spontaneousness and spiritualty, they asserted intuition over ground, Eastern mysticism over Western institutionalized faith. The “ beats ” went out of their manner to dispute the forms of reputability and floor the remainder of the civilization, and finally won favour among college-age Americans, who joined together in protests against the decease punishment, atomic arms, racial segregation, and other aspects of American life that went mostly unquestioned throughout the 1950s.

Musicians and creative persons rebelled every bit good. Tennessee vocalist Elvis Presley popularized black music in the signifier of stone and axial rotation, and shocked more sedate Americans with his ducktail haircut and undulating hips. There was a fresh artistic mentality with abstract expressionistsA like Jackson Pollock and others like Mark Rothko who delved into existential philosophy. A



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