“Jack Be Nimble: The Accidental Education of an Unintentional Director” by Jack O’Brien— A Passion for the Theater

jack be nimble

O’Brien, Jack. “Jack Be Nimble: The Accidental Education of an Unintentional Director”, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013.

A Passion for the Theater

Amos Lassen

I love the theater and I go whenever I get the chance but I rarely get to read about it. With Jack O’Brien I not only get to read but I also get to imagine what it would be like to be part of the world of theater. He was raised in the Midwest and tried to get involved in theater by writing lyrics for Broadway but that was not meant to be. Instead he became part of America’s regional theater movement and met people like John Houseman, Helen Hayes, Ellis Rabb and Eva LeGallienne. O’Brien never had any intentions of becoming a director or even to ever direct some of the most famous and most brilliant personalities of the time and how that happened is wondrously retold here.

He eventually had a long and successful career on Broadway as well as the artistic director of San Diego’s Old Globe Theater. However, the history of the movement that was responsible for shaping O’Brien seems to be forgotten. There had once been a tie between European influences (the Moscow Art Theater and the National Theater of Great Britain) and the American theater of today and O’Brien saw it all and writes about it here and in wonderful detail. This is the story of missing heroes, of fine performances and of battles of culture. We also get the story of Jack O’Brien, one of the most beloved of American directors and his passions.