|Written by||Ayn Rand|
|Date premiered||February 13, 1940|
|Place premiered||Biltmore Theatre|
The Unconquered is a three-act play written by Russian-American author Ayn Rand as an adaptation of her 1936 novel We the Living . The story follows Kira Argounova, a young woman living in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Her lover Leo Kovalensky develops tuberculosis. To get money for his treatment, Kira has an affair with a Communist official, Andrei Taganov. After recovering from his illness, Leo becomes involved with black market food sales that Andrei is investigating. When Andrei realizes that Kira loves Leo, he helps his rival avoid prosecution, then commits suicide. Leo leaves Kira, who decides to risk her life escaping the country.
Rand sold an option for the adaptation to producer Jerome Mayer and wrote a script, but he was unable to stage the play. Upon learning about the script, Russian actress Eugenie Leontovich recommended it to producer George Abbott. He staged the play on Broadway in February 1940. The production was troubled by problems with the script and the cast, including the firing of Leontovich and other actors before the premiere. When the play opened at the Biltmore Theatre, it was a critical and financial failure, and closed in less than a week. It was the last of Rand's plays produced during her lifetime. The script was published in 2014.
Ayn Rand was born in 1905 in Saint Petersburg, then capital of the Russian Empire, to a bourgeois family whose property was expropriated by the Bolshevik government after the 1917 Russian Revolution.Concerned about her safety due to her strong anti-Communist views, Rand's family helped her emigrate to the United States in 1926. She moved to Hollywood, where she obtained a job as a junior screenwriter and also worked on other writing projects. Her play Night of January 16th opened on Broadway in September 1935 and ran until early April 1936. Later that month, her debut novel, We the Living , was published by Macmillan. She drew on her experiences to depict life in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, and expressed her criticisms of the Soviet government and Communist ideology.
Shortly after We the Living was published, Rand began negotiations with Broadway producer Jerome Mayer to do a theatrical adaptation.They reached an agreement by July 1936. By January 1937, Rand had completed a script, but Mayer had difficulty casting the production because of the story's anti-Communist content. Without a recognized star in the cast, Mayer's financing fell through.
In 1939, Russian-born actress Eugenie Leontovich, who had read We the Living and heard that an adaptation had been written, approached Rand. Like Rand, Leontovich came from a family that suffered after the revolution; the Bolsheviks tortured and killed her three brothers, who served in the anti-Communist White Army.Leontovich asked for a copy of the script, which she sent to her friend George Abbott, a successful Broadway producer. Abbott decided to produce and direct the adaptation; he hired scenic designer Boris Aronson, who was also a Russian immigrant, to create the sets. Rand hoped the theatrical adaptation of her novel would create interest among Hollywood producers in doing a film version. This hope was bolstered when Warner Bros. studio invested in the stage production, which was retitled The Unconquered.
Rand had a bad experience with the Broadway production of Night of January 16th because of script changes mandated by the producer, so she insisted on having final approval of any revisions to The Unconquered.The production was quickly troubled as Abbott requested many changes that Rand refused. To facilitate rewrites, Abbott asked experienced playwright S. N. Behrman to work with Rand as a script doctor. Abbott also decided to replace actor John Davis Lodge, who was hired to play Andrei.
Although she was much older,Leontovich planned to star as college-aged Kira. Abbott and Rand developed concerns about Leontovich's approach to the role during rehearsals. Rand later described Leontovich's performance as "ham all over the place", which Rand attributed to Leontovich's background with the Moscow Art Theatre. A preview production opened in Baltimore on December 25, 1939, with Leontovich playing Kira alongside Onslow Stevens as Leo and Dean Jagger as Andrei. Rand's husband, Frank O'Connor, was cast in a minor role as a GPU officer. The opening night was complicated by a last-minute accident when Howard Freeman, who was playing Morozov, fell from the theatre's upper tier and fractured his pelvis. No replacement was ready, so his part was read from the script rather than performed. The Baltimore production closed on December 30.
After negative reviews for the preview, Abbott cancelled a Broadway debut planned for January 3, 1940, so he could recast and Rand could make script changes.Rand and Abbott agreed to fire Leontovich. Rand delivered the news so that Abbott did not have to confront his longtime friend. Abbott made several other cast changes, including replacing Stevens with John Emery and replacing Doro Merande with Ellen Hall as Bitiuk.
For the Broadway production, Helen Craig took the lead role as Kira.Rand made the updates to the script that Abbott requested, but she had lost confidence in the production. She did not usually drink, but got drunk before the dress rehearsal to "cut off any emotional reaction" to the "disaster". A final preview performance was staged on February 12, 1940, as a benefit for the Home for Hebrew Infants, a New York orphanage. The play opened on Broadway the next day at the Biltmore Theatre, but closed after five days following scathing reviews and just six performances.
For more than 70 years after its production, the play was unpublished and available only as a typescript stored at the New York Public Library.In 2014, Palgrave Macmillan published a volume with both the final script and an earlier version, edited by Robert Mayhew.
In the Russian winter of 1924, Leo Kovalensky returns to his apartment in Petrogradafter spending two months in jail. The Soviet government has executed his father and expropriated his family's property, including the apartment building. Leo's lover, Kira Argounova, welcomes him home and moves in with him, despite his status as a suspected counter-revolutionary.
A few months later, a panel led by Pavel Syerov questions Kira. They are evaluating the ideological suitability of students at the college where she studies engineering. She admits her bourgeois heritage and refuses to become an informant against Leo. Andrei Taganov, a GPU officer, expels her. After the meeting, Andrei tells Kira that he admires the bravery she showed in defying the panel. He hopes that in a future world everyone can express themselves openly, but until then people like her must suffer. Since she will lose her ration card for being expelled, he offers to get her a job in a railroad office.
Kira begs officials in the railroad office to help Leo go to a Crimean sanatorium for treatment of tuberculosis he contracted while in jail. They refuse to help a former aristocrat. Andrei comes to the office with Stepan Timoshenko to confront Andrei's old friend Syerov with evidence that he helps smuggle black market goods. Syerov promises to end his involvement. Kira asks Andrei for his help with Leo. He refuses, but when Kira becomes upset, he kisses her and admits he has been thinking about her since their previous meeting. Kira tells Andrei she loves him, but no one must know of their affair.
The second act begins six months later. Syerov is in charge of the railroad office and conspires with another official, Karp Morozov, to divert food shipments for the black market. They arrange for Leo, who has just returned from his treatment in Crimea (secretly funded by Andrei's gifts to Kira), to open a store that will sell the stolen goods. Kira warns Leo that his involvement could lead him to a firing squad. Andrei, who has supported Kira as his mistress, proposes marriage. In response, she suggests they should break up. He tells her it is too late for them to separate, because she has changed his view of life.
Timoshenko brings Andrei evidence of Syerov and Morozov's ongoing black market activities. Kira realizes this will implicate Leo as well. She asks Andrei to drop the case, but he refuses. Syerov and Morozov are arrested, but are not charged because they have influence with the local GPU chief. The chief orders Andrei to arrest Leo for a show trial and execution. Andrei is disillusioned by the corruption he has witnessed. When he goes to Leo's home to make the arrest, he discovers that Kira also lives there.
In the third act, after Leo's arrest, Kira finds Andrei preparing for a speech to a Communist Party meeting. She declares she is proud that she did what was necessary to save Leo from tuberculosis, and she expresses contempt for the Communist ideology that would have let him die. Andrei says he understands and accepts responsibility for making her suffer. When she leaves, Andrei confronts Syerov and insists that he use his influence to secure Leo's release. When Andrei gives his speech, he deviates from his prepared remarks to speak in favor of freedom and individualism.
Andrei commits suicide, and afterwards Kira admits to Leo that she was Andrei's mistress. Leo tells her that he is leaving town with Antonina Pavlovna, Morozov's former mistress, to be her gigolo. Kira says she will also leave to attempt an escape across the border. Leo warns that she will be killed, but she says she has already lost everything that matters, except her human spirit.
The characters and cast from the Broadway production are given below:
|Boy Clerk||William Blees|
|G.P.U. Chief||Marshall Bradford|
|Comrade Sonia||Georgiana Brand|
|Comrade Voronov||Horace Cooper|
|Stepan Timoshenko||George Cotton|
|Kira Argounova||Helen Craig|
|Girl Clerk||Virginia Dunning|
|Leo Kovalensky||John Emery|
|Karp Morozov||Howard Freeman|
|Comrade Bitiuk||Ellen Hall|
|Andrei Taganov||Dean Jagger|
|Assistant G.P.U. Chief||Frank O'Connor|
|Antonina Pavlovna||Lea Penman|
|Pavel Syerov||Arthur Pierson|
|Party Club Attendant||George Smith|
|Older Examiner||J. Ascher Smith|
The play follows the basic plot and themes from We the Living. The plot in both is about a woman having an affair with a powerful man in order to save another man she loves. Rand acknowledged that similar plots had been used in many previous works of fiction, citing the opera Tosca as an example. She varied from traditional versions of the plot by making the powerful man an idealist who is in love with the woman and unaware of her other lover, rather than a villain who knowingly exploits her.The play significantly streamlines the story: Kira's family is omitted, and the plot begins with her living with Leo. Some of the characterizations are also changed: Leo is more passive, and Andrei is portrayed less sympathetically.
Aronson's sets were elaborate and expensive. He designed them to evoke pre-revolutionary Czarist architecture, but with a red color theme to reflect the use of that color by the Communists. A press report described them as "massive" and "decadent". The sets were placed on two 18-foot turntables that could be spun around to allow rapid changes between scenes.
The play was a box office failure and received mostly negative reviews. Critics were positive about the acting and Aronson's set design, but strongly negative about the writing and direction.Reviewer Arthur Pollock called the play "slow-moving, uninspired soup". The New York Times described it as a "confusing" mixture of "sentimental melodrama" and political discussion. A syndicated review by Ira Wolfert complained the story had "complications ... too numerous to mention". A reviewer for The Hollywood Reporter quipped that the play was "as interminable as the five-year plan".
Politically minded reviewers attacked the play from viewpoints across the political spectrum.In the Communist Party USA magazine The New Masses , Alvah Bessie said the play was "deadly dull" and called Rand "a fourth-rate hack". More centrist reviewers described the play as unrealistic, even when they sympathized with its message. In the Catholic magazine Commonweal , Philip T. Hartung called the play "a confused muddle" and recommended the movie Ninotchka as better anti-Soviet entertainment. From the right, New York World-Telegram drama critic Sidney B. Whipple complained the play understated the dangers of Communism.
After the play's failure, Rand concluded her script was bad, and it was a mistake to attempt a theatrical adaptation of We the Living; she decided the novel "was not proper stage material".She thought that Abbot was more suited to comedy than drama, and that his efforts as producer and director had made the play even worse. Biographers of Rand have described the play as "a complete failure", "a resounding flop", and a "critical fiasco and professional embarrassment". Theatre historian William Torbert Leonard described it as a "turgid adaptation" that "failed to enchant even the curious".
The Unconquered was the last of Rand's plays to be produced in her lifetime, and she did not write any new plays after 1940.She turned her attention to finishing her novel The Fountainhead , which was published in 1943 and became a bestseller. Abbott, who had a long track record on Broadway, was not strongly impacted by the failure of The Unconquered. His next production, the crime drama Goodbye in the Night, written by Jerome Mayer, opened a few weeks later.
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.
The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Russian-American author Ayn Rand, her first major literary success. The novel's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who designs modernist buildings and refuses to compromise with an architectural establishment unwilling to accept innovation. Roark embodies what Rand believed to be the ideal man, and his struggle reflects Rand's belief that individualism is superior to collectivism.
Nathaniel Branden was a Canadian–American psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem. A former associate and romantic partner of Ayn Rand, Branden also played a prominent role in the 1960s in promoting Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. Rand and Branden split acrimoniously in 1968, after which Branden focused on developing his own psychological theories and modes of therapy.
Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand, written in 1937 and first published in 1938 in the United Kingdom. The story takes place at an unspecified future date when mankind has entered another Dark Age. Technological advancement is now carefully planned and the concept of individuality has been eliminated. A young man known as Equality 7-2521 rebels by doing secret scientific research. When his activity is discovered, he flees into the wilderness with the girl he loves. Together they plan to establish a new society based on rediscovered individualism.
We the Living is the debut novel of the Russian American novelist Ayn Rand. It is a story of life in post-revolutionary Russia and was Rand's first statement against communism. Rand observes in the foreword that We the Living was the closest she would ever come to writing an autobiography. Rand finished writing the novel in 1934, but it was rejected by several publishers before being released by Macmillan Publishing in 1936. It has since sold more than three million copies.
This is a bibliography for Ayn Rand and Objectivism. Objectivism is a philosophical system initially developed in the 20th century by Rand.
Barbara Branden was a Canadian-American writer, editor, and lecturer, known for her relationship and subsequent break with novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand.
Night of January 16th is a theatrical play by Russian-American author Ayn Rand, inspired by the death of the "Match King", Ivar Kreuger. Set in a courtroom during a murder trial, an unusual feature of the play is that members of the audience are chosen to play the jury. The court hears the case of Karen Andre, a former secretary and lover of businessman Bjorn Faulkner, of whose murder she is accused. The play does not directly portray the events leading to Faulkner's death; instead the jury must rely on character testimony to decide whether Andre is guilty. The play's ending depends on the verdict. Rand's intention was to dramatize a conflict between individualism and conformity, with the jury's verdict revealing which viewpoint they preferred.
The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction is an anthology of unpublished early fiction written by Ayn Rand, first published in 1984, two years after her death. The selections include short stories, plays, and excerpts of material cut from her novels We the Living and The Fountainhead.
The Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), originally Nathaniel Branden Lectures, was an organization founded by Nathaniel Branden in 1958 to promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. The institute was responsible for many Objectivist lectures and presentations across the United States. Many of those associated with NBI worked on the Objectivist magazines, The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist.
The Objectivist movement is a movement of individuals who seek to study and advance Objectivism, the philosophy expounded by novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand. The movement began informally in the 1950s and consisted of students who were brought together by their mutual interest in Rand's novel, The Fountainhead. The group, ironically named "the Collective" due to their actual advocacy of individualism, in part consisted of Leonard Peikoff, Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Alan Greenspan, and Murray Rothbard. Nathaniel Branden, a young Canadian student who had been greatly inspired by Rand's work, became a close confidant and encouraged Rand to expand her philosophy into a formal movement. From this informal beginning in Rand's living room, the movement expanded into a collection of think tanks, academic organizations, and periodicals.
The Randian hero is a ubiquitous figure in the fiction of 20th-century novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, most famously in the figures of The Fountainhead's Howard Roark and Atlas Shrugged's John Galt. Rand's self-declared purpose in writing fiction was to project an "ideal man"—a man who perseveres to achieve his values, and only his values.
The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism is a 1964 collection of essays by the philosopher Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. Most of the essays originally appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter. The book covers ethical issues from the perspective of Rand's Objectivist philosophy. Some of its themes include the identification and validation of egoism as a rational code of ethics, the destructiveness of altruism, and the nature of a proper government.
For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is a 1961 work by the philosopher Ayn Rand. It is her first long non-fiction book. Much of the material consists of excerpts from Rand's novels, supplemented by a long title essay that focuses on the history of philosophy.
Atlas Shrugged is a 1957 novel by Ayn Rand. Rand's fourth and final novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing. Atlas Shrugged includes elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance, and it contains Rand's most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction.
Red Pawn is a screenplay written by Ayn Rand. It was the first screenplay that Rand sold. Universal Pictures purchased it in 1932. Red Pawn features the theme of the evil of dictatorship, specifically of Soviet Russia.
The Passion of Ayn Rand is a biography of Ayn Rand by writer and lecturer Barbara Branden, a former friend and business associate. Published by Doubleday in 1986, it was the first full-length biography of Rand and the basis for the 1999 film of the same name starring Helen Mirren as Rand.
Who Is Ayn Rand? is a 1962 book about the philosopher Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden. It comprises four essays addressing Rand's life and writings and her philosophy of Objectivism. The book's title essay is Barbara Branden's authorized biography of Rand. The Brandens subsequently repudiated the book, deeming its approach too uncritical toward Rand.
We the Living is a two-part 1942 Italian romantic war film directed by Goffredo Alessandrini and stars Alida Valli, Rossano Brazzi and Fosco Giachetti. It is a film adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel We the Living.
Ideal is a posthumously published 2015 novel by Ayn Rand.