Posts Tagged ‘Arthur Laurents’

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The Time I Interviewed Arthur Laurents

May 6, 2011

“The cords, Mr. Laurents. Be careful of the cords. Mr. Laurents look out!”

My last words to Arthur Laurents.

It was April 2009, I had just finished taping an interview with him. He was leaving the Cabaret room of George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the feet of this 91 year old legend had gotten tangled in a mass of microphone and light cords.

He appeared not to hear me and he kept trying to step his way out of it.

Teetering, he looked like he was about to hit the floor. There were a lot of cords and we needed to untangle them.  But Arthur just wanted to get to dress rehearsal.

“Goddammit, stop walking!”  I wanted to yell at him by this point.

If you knew Arthur Laurents, you know that’s what he probably would have responded to, and appreciated the humor in it.

When I heard today that he had died, of course it made me think of our interview, but also of his incredible longevity and body of work. He wrote the books for the iconic musicals “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” the screenplay for “The Way We Were” and also for the Hitchcock classic, “Rope.”

And he kept writing till the end.

He was debuting a new play, “New Year’s Eve,” starring Keith Carradine and Marlo Thomas when we met. I also interviewed Thomas that night. She talked to me about his attention to detail, the seriousness of his craft.

Arthur Laurents had a reputation for being caustic and tough on actors. I asked him about it and he shot right back, “I don’t know where you got that but you were misled. There is not anything that I have directed where the actors did not love me. For one simple reason: when you give love you get love.”

A few weeks later it was reported he had reamed the cast of the “West Side Story” revival on Broadway for too many sick outs and cast replacements soon followed.

He also peppered our interview with sexual references. I remember during edit sessions for “ON THE SCENE” laughing as we watched his comparisons between going to the theatre and having sex, which I made sure were included in the final piece.

“People are so afraid they’re going to do something wrong. Have a good time, have sex. Go to the theatre, enjoy the show, don’t worry about what anybody says.”

Arthur Laurents was colorful, opinionated, talented, and it seems to me did everything he ever wanted to do in life.

I’m honored that I had the chance to interview him…cords and all.