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Elliot Norton Reviews; Archibald Macleish: Scratch


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Elliot Norton Reviews
Archibald Macleish: Scratch
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 poet and playwright Archibald Macleish about his play Scratch based on Stephen Vincent Benét’ short story, The Devil and Danny Webster, playing at the Colonial Theater. Norton says that the play is about a midnight trial in which Danny Webster fights against the devil for a man’s soul and Webster’s own soul. The jury is made up of the “ghosts of dead American traitors” and touches on the great issues of “national order, international liberty, and the need to reconcile these two.” Macleish talks about how helpful Norton’s review was and they discuss some of the concerns Norton had about the production, including Norton’s opinion that the first scene is too long. Macleish talks about the difference between his play and the short story, including the fact that the short story was completely myth, and the play moves from the real man, Daniel Webster, to the myth. Macleish talks about the real Webster and his involvement in the Civil War. He also talks about his optimism during the play and the fact that the American people have come to terms with the fact that liberty and union can live together and did not have to be one or the other. He talks about how this is a contemporary issue and the American people are still dealing with this dichotomy.

Director: Russell Tillman

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Archibald Macleish: Scratch,” 06/21/1971, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 17, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9DC0D8CA559A444293786CC0C3604779.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Archibald Macleish: Scratch.” 06/21/1971. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 17, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9DC0D8CA559A444293786CC0C3604779>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Archibald Macleish: Scratch. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9DC0D8CA559A444293786CC0C3604779
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