Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 3, 1975 · Page 83
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August 3, 1975

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 83

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, August 3, 1975
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Page 83
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Edith Oliver defines her role as critic By Martha Smith WATERFORD, Conn. -- She is a tiny, frail, bird-like person with thinning gray hair and a deep voice. She is fond of saying: "I know I'm not working on this play, but I just want to say one thing and then you can tell me to shut up." Everyone here is more than happy to hear lots more than one thing from this revered woman. And nobody tells her to shut up. She is Edith Oliver, a staff writer for 28 years at The New Yorker, and reviewer of the off-Broadway "·*ne for nearly two decades. With ner dry wit, ready smile and genuine interest in the young talent associated with both the National Playwrights Conference and the National Critics Institute, Miss Oliver is probably the most beloved person here. Sitting at lunch in the mansion of the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Theater Center, she recounted with marvelous, warm humor her journey up the ladder to become one of the East Coast's most respected critics, and her philosophy about the role of the critic. "I was promised when I went to The New Yorker that I would never have to write," she chuckles. "But I was forced to review movies 13 years ago. I've been reviewing off- Broadway ever since. This fall begins my 14th season. In addition, Iifoneear. . I've been running the book review department since Noah's Ark." Edith Oliver's career is varied and gives an amusing slant on her' diverse character. As a young actress, she worked in summer stock and as a radio actress ("I only did gun molls.") Then she began writing and producing for radio. The immensely popular "$64 question" on radio (not to be confused with TV's $64,000 Wuestion") was produced by Miss Oliver. She also masterminded much of the radio work of Gary Moore and Eddit Cantor. She was associated with a nightly. melodrama, "True Detective," as an actress and recalls the experience as bizarre because the scripts were never finished when the show went on the air. "We never knew when we started how it would turn out," she laughs. From this wondrous background, Edith Oliver went to The New Yorker's book review section and editorial staff, later becoming off- Broadway critic. Waldi for These GUNSMOKE. (Repeat). "I Have Promises to Keep." Festus is caught in the middle when an Eastern preacher wants to build a church for the Indians and the townspeople. David Wayne guest stars. 8 p.m. CBS. Q CD ROOKIES. (Repeat). "Legacy of Death." Chris Owen's life is endangered when he is partnered with a veteran "supercop" bent on self- destruction. Jeremy Slate guest stars. 8 p.m. ABC. 0 ® MAUDE. (Repeat). Maude's mother makes her first appearance and throws Maude into a fit of "guilties," which affects the entire family. 9 p.m. CBS. 0 She has definite, pronounced views on her role and its import. ance to the stage. She says, for example: "The only terrible thing a reviewer can do is not tell the truth. It is better to be embarrassed than to lie. When I first saw 'Waiting for Godot' I thought Beckett was the bore of the world and I said so." Sometimes, Miss Oliver says, she will attend a show and decide the kindest thing is to decline writing any review. If the show somehow develops a long run, she covers by putting a blurb in the "Goings On About Town" section. She also believes that few magazine theater critics -- with the possible exceptions of T. E. Kalem, John Simon and Edith Oliver -- really can affect the box office. She thinks that if a show is good but doing poorly at the box office, she can "breathe new life" into it by enthusiastic writing. Clive Barnes, a close friend of Miss Oliver's, is described by her as "an awfully kind man" who feels a terrible pressure when one bad review from him can close a show. "He always tries to include one sentence that is favorable and that they can lift out for the ads," she explains, adding: "I hate being quoted in blurbs." And here is the most wonderful part of Edith Oliver's definition of her work, a clear, uncomplicated expression: "Criticism is discovery," she says. "The critic writes for readers familiar with the work. Prime Minister of Trinadad. Lou Gossett guest stars. 10 p.m. ABC. 0® MEDICAL CENTER. (Repeat). "If Mine Eye Offends Me." A convicted criminal has to decide whether he, is willing to win a parole by taking a drug which would curb his anti-social drives. David Birney and Donna Mills are featured. 10 p.m. CBS. 0 WIDE WORLD. (Repeat). "Murder By Proxy." The president of a giant electronics firm isTmur- dered and the lives of the company's top officers are threatened. Lawrence Pressman and John Randolph star. 11:30 p.m. ABC. 0 ® The reviewer writes for readers unfamiliar with the work, but in writing criticism there is always something new to find that you may have missed although you've seen the show a dozen times." Of the critics here to hold in esteem and follow in style, character and spirit, Edith Oliver is my choice. She's absolutely super. PERSONALITIES: Among the notables hard at work at the O'Neill are Tandy Cronyn, administrative assistant of the National Theater of the Deaf. She's the daughter of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. Also busy here is director Jim Hammers tein, son of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein ... Hal Scott, possibly the foremost black director working in American theater, is here for his sixth season and will direct "The Brownsville Raid," a historical play about massacre among a black military regiment and the relationship of Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington ... Serving as a dramaturg is Martin Esslin, head of BBC's drama department and the foremost authority on the works of Pinter ... A McNEL Fence Protects Beautifies Your Home! Long Life 4 Lasbg Beauty OLORBOND WIRE IANK FINANCING AVAILAIU Th« Colorbond Ftnct Syitim gives you tht strength of stnl. In* btouty of color and to (ailing economy ol rust and corrosion proof vinyl dad steel. Never needs pointing'or replacing. Expertly installed by our own mechanics. Select from Port Roil F«flcing. For FREE Erinaln on any fatting n««d. CoN today. 3102 7th Ave. North ChartestM-PhoM 744-805 its,, SWAT.. (Repeat). "Pressure Cooker." After thwarting a market heist involving hostages, preventing an attempted suicide, and launching an investigation into a kidnapping, Hondo is ordered to play "host" to a beautiful, anti-police writer who plans to spend several days on the job with the team. 9p.m. ABC. 0® »· RHODA. Rhoda sets out to prove that her younger sister's boyfriend is really a married man. 9:30 p.m. CBS. O *· CARIBE. (Repeat)."'The Assassin." Ben and Mark attempt to avert the planned assassination of the "THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH," (1969)**%, 11:30 p.m., O © Sandy Dennis gives a very good performance in this somewhat cumbersome drama about an unmarried lady who decides to have the baby and not tell the guy responsible. For the first half-hour, it's terrific stuff, but soap opera soon takes over. IU Muskin"ROUND POOLS NOW IN STOCK! ·1C SIZE-BK STRIIKTH-BK BEAUTY! Highest Quality Construction Throughout! Heavy Vinyl Liners, All with 6 inch Top Seat. Priced with "Muskin" Stainless Steel Sand-Filtered Tank and % H.P. Motor, Vacuum Equipment, Ladders, Starter Chemicals, Test Kit, Etc. 4 SIZES TO CHOOSE FROM! 1?X 3'Steel Pock 15'X 4'Steel POSTS- . 18" X 4' Aluminum Pools 24' X 4' Aluminum Pools or Steel Pools SUMMER OR WINTER COVERS NOW IN STOCK! -OPEN SATURDAY Trideilt Specialties 5701 MKCorUe Ate., $·. OmfcstM 25 J03-HKHK 768-4M1 SHOWTIME, Augusts, 1975 CHAklhtSTON. W. VA

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