“I want to die young at a ripe old age.” — Ashley Montagu

September 23, 2009

ARTHUR LAURENTS

ARTHUR LAURENTS

I know what I want to be when I grow up — Arthur Laurents. I bumped into Arthur today at the George Street Playhouse where his latest play, “Come Back, Come Back, Wherever You Are,” will have its premiere next month. I was at the playhouse to interview Shirley Knight, who is rehearsing for this  production.

I told Arthur I just finished reading his recent book “Mainly on Directing,” and he said, “I’m just starting to write a new book. It’s called ‘The Rest of the Story,’ and the first line is: ‘You have to know who is telling the story.’ ” The title is a reference to the book he published in 2001, “Original Story.” The first line, I’m sure, is a reference to the fact that Arthur Laurents regards himself as a work in progress, a person always evolving, always acquiring new insights, new ways to look at the theater, at life, and especially at love.

GEORGE STREET PLAYHOUSE

GEORGE STREET PLAYHOUSE

The thing is, Arthur is 92 years old. He just directed the Broadway Revival of “West Side Story” — for which he wrote the book — he has had a new play at George Street for at least the last three years in a row, he is writing a new book when the ink isn’t dry on the old one. And he’s 92 years old.

That’s what I want to be when I grow up.

When I’m 92. Still working, still learning, still thinking — as Pablo Casals said in his 90s — that “I’m making progress.”

ARTHUR LAURENTS and the CAST OF 'WEST SIDE STORY'

ARTHUR LAURENTS and the cast of 'WEST SIDE STORY'

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