Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mae West: Stark Young

Born in Mississippi in the month of October was a drama critic who wrote about MAE WEST.
• • Stark Young [11 October 1881 6 January 1963] was an American teacher, playwright, novelist, painter, literary critic, and essayist.
• • In her book Mae West: An Icon in Black and White [2001], author Jill Watts discusses Stark Young's reaction to Mae West onstage.
• • According to Jill Watts, critic Stark Young viewed Diamond Lil and Mae West as a riddle: Here is a stage figure who is not one of those players, however admirable, with whom we can feel at home, knowing that they are the same sort of human beings as we are, save for a desire to imitate or to exhibit themselves, or both. You watch Miss West without this easy understanding and also without falling asleep. Whatever ideas or conceptions she may or may not have, she is alive on the stage as no one is in life, she shines, she astonishes — — shocks, if you like — — engages and puzzles you.
• • Jill Watts includes another remark about Mae West's portrayal of Diamond Lil by Stark Young: "You may watch her performance and take it any way you like," Stark Young wrote. "The theatre, you perceive is a place for your pleasure."
• • Stark Young compared the gritty realism of "Sex" [in 1926-1927] with the more nostalgic theatricality of the Suicide Hall setting of "Diamond Lil" [1928]. He writes: "Diamond Lil" is as daring in the end [as "Sex"], the same sexy morsels, embraces, and interventions of the law with rank suspenses, frank speeches, underworld, and so on. But it is more covered, continuous, and studied than the other production, and the crowd of characters, the costuming and vaudevillistic intervals, pull the whole of this later play into a more familiar style, less crudely, and sheerly singular than "Sex" appeared to be. ...
— — excerpt — —
• • "Diamond Lil" by Stark Young, drama critic [New Republic, 27 June 1928]
• • In 1959, a stroke derailled his life. Stark Young died in 1963 at age 81.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Drawing: • • Mae West • • Miguel Covarrubias • • 1928 • •

Mae West.

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