By James V. Gambone, Ph.D. Producer and Co-Director
In October of 2018, I was asked by the Sinclair Lewis Foundation to produce something special for the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the publication of Main Street in 2020. I said, I would be very interested because I wanted to learn more about Lewis and his other writings. I had read Main Street in college, but that was many moons ago. This is how an incredible journey of discovery began.
I immediately began voraciously reading about Sinclair Lewis and his life journey. I talked with Sally Parry from the International Sinclair Lewis Society, (who will be starting short, monthly articles of Lewis for the News in November), re-read Main Street, followed by Grace Hegger Lewis’ memoir, Richard Lingeman’s and Mark Schorer’s biographies, and I interviewed Peter Kurth, the biographer of Dorothy Thompson, the second wife of Lewis. After this intense investigation, I knew a few major things that I wanted to see included in whatever was produced: the importance of place i.e. Lewis growing up in Sauk Centre, a town of only 2.600; his “Hickeys”—his horrible acne from the time he was a teenager, winning the Nobel Prize in 1930 and what it made him question, his dedication and craft as a writer and satirical story teller, the important influence of his two wives on his work, his alcoholism, and Lewis’ relevance today.
To paraphrase H.L. Mencken’s review of Main Street, my original intent was to create a historical presentation where the characters were genuinely human and authentically American, and then carry them through a series of obstacles and transitions thoughtfully and acutely in light of the social, political and cultural forces of their time. And, to present a production with sharp sense of satire and realism, rich in observation and competently designed. You can decide how successful we were. sinclairlewisfoundation.org/life-and-loves
Now, we are offering our story as a licensed theatrical play to professional, amateur and school theater groups. This is how the script for The Life and Loves of Sinclair Lewis was originally written but COVID prohibited us from a scheduled run at the Minnesota History Theater in 2020. ( Go to the SinclairLewisFoundation.org and select Licensing on the home page)
Readers of WestView News can watch our production on video at no cost and then help spread the word to your own theater communities that a new, award winning original dramatic play about Sinclair Lewis is available to them. The good news is that they can preview the script of the play at no cost, plus be able to see how we produced it here in MN. The licensed play comes with 6 video vignettes covering some of Lewis’ most popular works.
As a life-long educator, I also wanted to make our production easily available to high schools and University classes dealing with topics like American literature, social studies, history, theater, and writing. We are offering at no cost, the streaming production with a study guide for a two-day class on Sinclair Lewis.
Please help us keep the relevant works of Sinclair Lewis alive today!