Closing Performances: Mrs. Klein and The Cherry Orchard

Uta wrote to a friend—

On the closing performance [of Mrs. Klein in San Francisco], I remarked that it was similar to the closing of The Cherry Orchard during which I finally knew how to say goodbye to my orchard — and was furious that I wouldn’t get a chance to do it again. In the last “Mrs. K.” ... I’d finally convinced playwright and author Nicholas Wright to cut the endless speech down to “She was my first-born, you know. I expected a boy — when I saw her, I gave her my name, little Melanie ... Melitta.”
I still didn’t know how to send it. I now took it as an impulsive idea, that even surprised me, and “I gave her my name” was wondrous and as though it was the only thing I had to give her!

Uta Hagen

Born in Germany, Uta Hagen moved to Madison, Wisconsin, at the age of six. With the exception of several interruptions for study in Europe, Ms. Hagen received most of her schooling in Madison, her home until age sixteen. After training briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, she made her professional debut in 1937 in Dennis, Massachusetts, as “Ophelia” in Eva Le Gallienne’s production of Hamlet.

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