Elia Kazan

Definition

Theater

  • (Elia Kazanjoglou; 1909 - 2003) US theater and film director, bornin turkey to Greek parents. Kazan began his career as an actor with theGroup Theatre, making his debut as Agate Keller in Odets'sWaiting for Lefty in 1935. In the 1940s he became increasinglyinterested in directing and attracted critical attention with his productionsof Thornton Wilder's expressionist drama The Skin of Our Teeth (1942)and such plays as One Touch of Venus (1943), and Jacobowskyand the Colonel (1944).

    After World War II Kazan became associated particularly withthe works of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, directing earlyproductions of A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Death ofa Salesman (1949), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), and SweetBird of Youth (1959). In 1947 he was instrumental in foundingthe Actors' Studio, which helped to popularize the Methodin America. The new, naturalistic style of acting was also showcasedin Kazan's films of the 1950s, several of which starred Marlon Brando.Notoriously, Kazan was one of the few Hollywood luminaries to 'namenames' during the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. After two years(1962 - 64) as co-director of the Lincoln Center for the PerformingArts in New York, he retired from the theater to concerntrate on writing.

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