Stories of Sinclair Lewis
From the Sauk Centre Herald
1) Lewis and Bryant Library
2) Cast gets into Sinclair Lewis' skin
3) Bookseller remembers afternoon with Lewis
4) Is Lewis relavent?
5) Carol Kennicott returns to Main Street
6) Lewis scholars celebrate 75th anniversary of Babbitt
7) Enlightened on Lewis
8) The German side of Sinclair Lewis
9) The athletic side of Sinclair Lewis
Cast gets into Sinclair Lewis' skin
by Anne Robinson, Herald Intern
Get into Sinclair Lewis' skin. That was the goal of the cast and director of Strangers, a play about Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Thompson. Director Risa Brainin, cast members Jim Walker who plays Lewis, Marilyn Mays who plays Thompson, Paulette O'Dowd, Walter Eccles, Pepe Denarest and stage manager Jason Smith of St. Croix Festival Theatre came to Sauk Centre on Wednesday to research. They visited the Interpretive Center, the Palmer House and Boyhood Home. "We can do a lot of reading but there is nothing like being here," Walker said. Strangers was written by Sherman Yellen and was first produced on Broadway in 1978. The ticket sales started out slow and as they began to increase, the star left and the play was done, It was produced in Sauk Centre in the early 1980s. The St. Croix Festival Theatre's mission is to unearth lost or forgotten plays. They felt Strangers fit the description.
Strangers takes place in Europe from 1927 to 1947. Sauk Centre is mentioned in the play. The theme of Strangers is whether or not Lewis and Thompson's relationship can withstand their competition against each other and the tension of their professional lives.
"Their relationship was fascinating. They were two extremely well known, bright, intelligent people who tried and succeeded at fabulous professional lives and struggled deeply for a private life," Mays said. You hear about Lewis' accomplishments and you hear about Thompson, but only as Lewis' wife.
Mays said Thompson was a journalist during World War II. She was thrown out of Germany for exposing what was happening with Hitler and the Third Reich. She then started writing her own column and going on the radio.
"She was more widely read than her husband ever was. It was a source of pride as well as tension," Mays said.
Brainin said normally the company has to create parts of characters lives not included in the script. Because Sinclair Lewis was a real person and there is abundant information, they have the luxury of finding the real man.
"I have a deeper appreciation of Sinclair Lewis and where he came from and how accurate and inaccurate the script is," Walker said.
They came to Sauk Centre to find out where Sinclair Lewis came from, they left with their own view of the town.
"People here are marvelous. They are so friendly," Mays said.
"It (Sauk Centre) certainly is not as ugly as he thought it was," Walker said.
The St. Croix Festival Theatre is in its fifth season. Presently, a barn in Osceola Wis. is being renovated to be a new theatre.---Sauk Centre Herald, August 30, 1994 Main Street celebrates 75 years of publication.