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Oscar Lewenstein

Oscar Lewenstein

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Also Known As: Died: February 23, 1997
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Hackney, England, GB Profession: producer, general manager, artistic director, teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Born in Hackney to Russian Jewish emigres, Oscar Lewenstein grew up in the seaside town of Hove but returned to London at age 14 when the family business failed. Embracing Marxism, he found work at the Workers' Bookshop after leaving school and later, championing the plays of Bertolt Brecht, was instrumental in bringing "Mother Courage" to the Stratford East and Devon Festival before producing "The Threepenny Opera", with Peter O'Toole, and "Saint Joan Of the Stockyards", directed by Tony Richardson.His World War II experience teaching illiterate recruits to read and write convinced him he had a talent for organizing and led him to becoming the general manager of the Unity Theatre, a left-wing theater club, prior to his moving on to general manage the Royal Court Theatre in 1952. There, envisioning a writers' theater run on repertory lines, he formed the English Stage Company in 1956 with Ronald Duncan and George Devine. Their third production, John Osborne's "Look Back In Anger" (1956), paved the way for a new generation of British playwrights.During the 60s, in association with Lindsay Anderson, Peter Brook and Tony Richardson, he produced several gritty, working-class films including "Saturday...

Born in Hackney to Russian Jewish emigres, Oscar Lewenstein grew up in the seaside town of Hove but returned to London at age 14 when the family business failed. Embracing Marxism, he found work at the Workers' Bookshop after leaving school and later, championing the plays of Bertolt Brecht, was instrumental in bringing "Mother Courage" to the Stratford East and Devon Festival before producing "The Threepenny Opera", with Peter O'Toole, and "Saint Joan Of the Stockyards", directed by Tony Richardson.

His World War II experience teaching illiterate recruits to read and write convinced him he had a talent for organizing and led him to becoming the general manager of the Unity Theatre, a left-wing theater club, prior to his moving on to general manage the Royal Court Theatre in 1952. There, envisioning a writers' theater run on repertory lines, he formed the English Stage Company in 1956 with Ronald Duncan and George Devine. Their third production, John Osborne's "Look Back In Anger" (1956), paved the way for a new generation of British playwrights.

During the 60s, in association with Lindsay Anderson, Peter Brook and Tony Richardson, he produced several gritty, working-class films including "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1960) and the Oscar-winning "Tom Jones" (1963) that introduced actors like Tom Courtney and Albert Finney. Lewenstein served as artistic director at the Royal Court from 1972 until 1975, co-producing many of its shows and overseeing the transfer of its productions to the West End. One notable example from this period, "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" (1975), featuring Malcolm McDowell, was part of an entire season the Royal Court devoted to the work of Joe Orton. He produced his last film, "Rita, Sue and Bob Too" in 1987 and published his autobiography, "Kicking Against the Pricks" in 1995.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Hackney and grew up in the seaside town of Hove
:
Returned to London at age 14 when the family business failed
:
A committed Marxist, worked at the Workers' Bookshop after leaving school
1940:
Joined army and taught illiterate recruits how to read and write
:
After World War II, became general manager of the Unity Theatre, a left-wing theater club
:
Persuaded Bertolt Brecht to allow Joan Littlewood to present "Mother Courage" at the Stratford East and Devon Festival and brought him to the West End, producing "The Threepenny Opera", with Peter O'Toole, and "Saint Joan of the Stockyards", directed by Tony Richardson
1952:
Hired as general manager of the Royal Court Theatre
1956:
Formed the English Stage Company at the Royal Court with Ronald Duncan and George Devine; their third production was John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger" (1956), the harbinger of plays from a new generation of British playwrights
:
During the 1960s, in association with Lindsay Anderson, Peter Brook and Tony Richardson, produced several gritty, working-class films that introduced actors like Albert Finney and Tom Courtney; films included "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1960) and "Tom Jones" (1963)
1972:
Served as artistic director at Royal Court
1987:
Produced last film, "Rita, Sue and Bob Too"
1995:
Published autobiography, "Kicking Against the Pricks"
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Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Eileen Lewenstein. Second wife; survived him.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Kicking Against the Pricks: A Theater Producer Looks Back: The Memoirs of Oscar Lewenstein" Consortium Books

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