Citing weariness with his theatre's bureaucracy, Theodore Mann announced Aug. 23 that he has resigned from the Circle in the Square, the venerable New York theatre he led for 45 years.
Also departing from the theatre's board of directors are such off Broadway legends as Lucille Lortel, Paul Libin and John R. Russell.
The New York Times quoted Mann, 72, as saying "I just became tired of the bureaucratic way the theater was being run. There were too many people, too many cooks, too many differences."
Mann held the post of artistic director since 1951, when he co-founded the troupe Off-Broadway with Jose Quintero. Mann shared the title since 1994 with Josephine Abady, formerly of the Cleveland Play House. Abady reportedly will continue in the post alone.
Circle in the Square was once the highest-profile institutional theatre in New York. Two theatres N.Y. still bear its name -- its original Off Broadway space on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village plus the 1970s vintage Uptown theatre, a.k.a the Joseph E. Levine Theatre, on Broadway. The downtown theatre has been leased for commercial productions for most of the last three years. The uptown theatre has been in financial difficulty for most of the 1990s, and was dark at least one entire season. At one point the theatre offered one of its student productions, Wilder, Wilder, Wilder, an evening of one-act plays by Thornton Wilder, as a Broadway production. It's production before Hughie, May's Tartuffe: Born Again, played most of its limited run to less than 30 percent capacity. Though the resignations were tendered in July, news was kept under wraps while Circle in the Square's latest production, Hughie with Al Pacino, was in previews. The show opened Aug. 22, and the resignations were announced the following afternoon. Mann told the Times that he will continue as an independent director and producer, and will continue to run the Circle in the Square School.
It was fitting that Mann's tenure end with an O'Neill play. Circle in the Square made its reputation in the 1950s with O'Neill's plays The Iceman Cometh and the premiere of A Long Day's Journey Into Night. It's first hit was a revival of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke. Regulars at the theatre over the years included George C. Scott, Geraldine Page, Jason Robards, Al Pacino, Colleen Dewhurst, Nathan Lane and Philip Bosco.
-- By Robert Viagas