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Elliot Norton Reviews; Whales of August


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Elliot Norton Reviews
Whales of August
Program Number


Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews playwright David Berry and actors Ruth Maynard and Sylvia Davis about their production of Whales of August, directed by Adrian Hall at the Trinity Repertory Company. The play centers on five characters between the ages of 75 and 86. The oldest sister, Libby (Maynard), is grumpy and mean and has been taken care of by her younger sister, Sarah (Davis) for fifteen years. Sarah is getting sick of her lifestyle and decides to go live on her own and gain some independence from her sister. The play is dedicated to Berry’s grandfather and is inspired by him. His grandfather continued to develop and change as he grew old and never seemed to think his life would end. He died at the ripe age of 91 after playing 18 holes of golf. They actors and playwright discuss their relationships with their grandparents and how these grandparents behaved differently with them than with their parents. They discuss the topic of impending death and Sarah’s decision to leave Elizabeth. Berry tried to create characters that show us that “choice is our prerogative all the way through our lives and change happens to us no matter what. It’s kind of another way of saying ‘keep on keeping on.’” They discuss what makes the characters heroic, including Sarah’s decision to break away and start her life again at an old age. They also discuss the significance of the title of the play and the metaphor of the whale.

Director: Russ Fortier. Taped 2/24/1981.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Whales of August,” 02/24/1981, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 18, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_22F740DC6C13414CB657EBA1FDF417E4.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Whales of August.” 02/24/1981. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 18, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_22F740DC6C13414CB657EBA1FDF417E4>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Whales of August. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_22F740DC6C13414CB657EBA1FDF417E4
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