Nugent and McNutt, of "Poor Nut" Fame, Discuss College and the Stage and the Poor Nuts Often Found in Both
"College dramatics serve merely as a starting place; the real artistic development in an actor comes after the disappearance of all nervousness and self-consciousness, which only continued professional performances before large audiences of strange and skeptical people can eradicate," declared Elliott Nugent in an interview with a CRIMSON reporter. Mr. Nugent plays the leading role in his own play, "The Poor Nut", which is now playing at the Hollis Street Theatre.
Mr. and Mrs. Nugent, the latter of whom, under her own name of Norma Lee, plays the leading feminine part opposite her husband, discussed with enthusiasm the work of depicting college life on the stage, as they sat at a late breakfast in the Hotel Bellevue. Patterson McNutt, producer, actor, and journalist, who is presenting "The Poor Nut" in Boston, who was also present, was primarily interested in the future of the "college life" drama.
"The genuine, clean humor of student life," he said, "is a natural source which will be drawn on more and more. In the 'Poor Nut' there is the additional satirization of the athletic 'ballyhoo', and the fraternity life more prevalent in the Middle-West than in the East.
"The 'poor nuts'," continued the producer, who was a student at the University of Indiana, "are found in every college just as in every other walk of life. They are the inveterate members of the 'cellar gang' of college fraternities, the self-deprecating youths, who suffer from nothing other than the well known 'inferiority complex'. Ordinarily this is merely a stage through which the young man of average ability passes when he first comes into the realization that his early dreams of fame which are the common property of all youngsters, are not materializing. Usually he recovers after the first blow and reconciles himself to making the most of his talents. If he doesn't, the result often becomes tragic rather than humorous."
Mr. Nugent, before entering Ohio State, where he was active in college journalism as well as dramatics, had already appeared on the professional stage. The son of actor parents, he was, while still a child, making regular appearances as "the boy monologist". Together with his father, J. C. Nugent, he wrote "The Poor Nut", which is a play of his college and the characters are close imitations of the students and faculty there.
"Playing in a college part is the next best thing to being a student again," commented the youthful playwright and actor. "Critics have become tired of college plays, and are distinctly hostile to each new one. This is due of course to the fact that many of them have been written by men who never attended college at all or so long ago as to have fallen completely out of touch with the situation.
"It is only natural," continued Mr. Nugent, "that this type of play will continue to gain popularity. College life epitomizes the spirit of youth in this country, as in no other. It may not as yet be completely representative of the younger people of today but it is certainly an highly individual and thoroughly American theme."