Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of the Second City & the Compass Players
Author: Jeffrey Sweet
About the Book:
Jeffrey Sweet wrote the book on Chicago theatre. No, really, he wrote the book: Something Wonderful Right Away. Subtitled An Oral History of The Second City & The Compass Players, this is considered the definitive book on the history of improv theater in the Windy City. The Second City troupe has influenced and inspired everyone from Steppenwolf Theatre to playwright David Mamet, as well as affecting Jeffrey Sweet’s own playwriting.
In 1955, in the back room of a Chicago bar, a group of people began improvising satiric scenes of American life. The name of the group was the Compass Players, and their ranks included Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Shelley Berman, and Barbara Harris. A few years later, another comedy theatre based on the same principle of spontaneity was opened — the legendary Second City. This company, too, has produced dozens of major talents who have gone on to apply their experience of being funny on the spot to theatre, television and film.
Something Wonderful Right Away, by palywright and Chicago theater fan Jeffrey Sweet, captures all the craziness on-stage and off through the interviews with prominent alumni, among them: Alan Alda, Paul Mazursky, Valarie Harper, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Alan Arkin, Robert Klein, David Steinberg, Gilda Radner, and Joan Rivers. In between the routines and anecdotes are observations on the relationship of the popular stage to the community it serves and reflects and, most important, on the art of theatrical improvisation, which this book brings to rich, vivid life.
What people say:
“An important book about the most important American theatrical endeavor since the Group Theatre. Plus, it’s fun to read.” — David Mamet
About the Author:
Jeffrey Sweet is most closely associated with Chicago theatre. His plays have been presented off-Broadway in New York, in American regional theatres large and small, and on stages in London, Tokyo, Toronto, Budapest, Mannheim and Johannesburg. He has also written drama, sitcom, miniseries, and TV movies for ABC, NBC, and CBS. His work has won the Writers Guild of America Award and been nominated twice for the Emmy. A popular teacher and author of many newspaper and magazine articles, he teaches at HB Studios in New York, and guest lectures frequently at universities and theatres around the US. He also wrote Something Wonderful Right Away, an oral history of Chicago’s Second City company (a book which in turn inspired the creation of two other Chicago theaters) and two texts on playwriting, The Dramatist’s Toolkit and Solving Your Script.
Author: Jeffrey Sweet
Publisher: Limelight Editions
# of Pages: 386
Pub. Date: 1987