Margaret Croyden, Longtime Theatre Critic, Dies at 92

News   Margaret Croyden, Longtime Theatre Critic, Dies at 92
 
Margaret Croyden, a drama critic and author with firm knowledge of the various forms of 20th-century avant grade theatre, and who wrote books about the work of Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook, Died Feb. 22 at Lillian Booth Actors' Home in Englewood, NJ, where she had resided for two weeks due to declining health. She was 92.

Born in Brooklyn and educated in New York, Ms. Croyden contributed regularly to The New York Times during the 1970s and ’80s, The New York Times Magazine, The Village Voice, American Theatre, The Nation and Theater Week. On the Internet, she wrote about theatre, music and opera in a long-running column in New York Theatre Wire, titled “Croyden’s Corner,” from 1998 to the time of her death.

She initially dreamed of becoming an actress, but made the transition to journalist and educator while entertaining troops in Europe as World War II was coming to an end--an experience she wrote about in her memoir "The Years in Between: A Reporter’s Journey World War II-The Cold War.”

Ms. Croyden theatre worldview was internationalist. She was best known for her writings about the theatre auteurs Grotowski and Brook, whom she wrote about frequently, and sometimes fawningly, in the pages of the Times. Her best known book was "Conversations with Peter Brook: 1970-2000,” published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and reprinted in Britain, France, Spain, and China.

In a lengthy 1987 article in the Times about Brooks’ The Mahabharata, she wrote, “Peter Brook dislikes outsiders to watch rehearsals, but one day he makes an exception. I am inside the Bouffes du Nord when the company assembles after lunch. Actors limber up, they vocalize, they wear bits and pieces of their costumes. Some are barefoot, some bare-chested. Brook confers with his assistants. Musicians tune up. Everyone quiets down. Brook is calm; he is known never to lose his temper. He calls the cast together on stage, and they form a circle. He gives instructions, whispers to some actors. The theater goes dark, the stage lights are up; the scene begins. Brook does not stop the actors often. He takes notes on a pad; sometimes, he can't hear and says, ‘Whaaat?’ He calls one or another actor aside and they speak privately.”

Other books included "Lunatics, Lovers, and Poets: The Contemporary Experimental Theater" (McGraw-Hill), a study of the development of the avant-garde theater, and a second memoir, "In the Shadow of the Flame: Three Journeys" (Continuum Publishing). She was one of the hosts of CBS’ “Camera Three,” a popular Sunday morning arts program that aired during the ‘70s, where her guests included Brook, Grotowski, Andre Gregory, Irene Worth, George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman, Joseph Papp, Vanessa Redgrave, and Lee Strasberg among others. The show won a Peabody Award in 1978, but was cancelled soon after. Ms. Croyden was one of the founders of the League of Professional Theater Women, from which she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. Much of her archived work was acquired by Yale University, in the Sterling Memorial Library, including approximately 50 taped interviews with Peter Brook and other theater figures.

She is survived by Ron Melk, husband of her late niece, Martha Melk, of Washington Crossing, PA, a nephew, Robert Silber of Denver, and other cousins and relatives.

Today’s Most Popular News: