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Pine Brook Country Club

Pine Brook Country Club

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Pine Brook Country Club began when Benjamin Plotkin purchased Pinewood Lake
Pinewood Lake
Pinewood Lake is a natural lake located on the west side of tall Mischa Hill in the Nichols Farms Historic District section of Trumbull, Connecticut.-Pinewood Lake Association:...

 and the surrounding countryside on Mischa Hill in the historic village of Nichols, Connecticut
Nichols, Connecticut
Nichols, a historic village in southeastern Trumbull on the Gold Coast of Fairfield County, was named after the family who maintained a large farm in its center for almost 300 years. The Nichols Farms Historic District, which encompasses part of the village, is listed on the National Register of...

. Plotkin built an auditorium
An auditorium is a room built to enable an audience to hear and watch performances at venues such as theatres. For movie theaters, the number of auditoriums is expressed as the number of screens.- Etymology :...

 with a revolving stage
Revolving stage
A revolving stage is a mechanically controlled platform within a theatre that can be rotated in order to speed up the changing of a scene within a show...

 and forty rustic cabin
Log cabin
A log cabin is a house built from logs. It is a fairly simple type of log house. A distinction should be drawn between the traditional meanings of "log cabin" and "log house." Historically most "Log cabins" were a simple one- or 1½-story structures, somewhat impermanent, and less finished or less...

s and incorporated as the Pine Brook Country Club in 1930. Plotkin's dream was to market the rural lakeside club as a summer resort for people to stay and enjoy theatrical productions. The Club remained in existence until major fighting broke out in Europe in the mid 1940s and was reorganized as a private lake association in 1944.
Group Theatre (New York)
Pine Brook is best known for becoming the summer rehearsal headquarters of the most important experiment in the history of American Theatre. The Group Theatre (New York) was formed in New York City in 1931 by Harold Clurman
Harold Clurman
Harold Edgar Clurman was a visionary American theatre director and drama critic, "one of the most influential in the United States". He was most notable as one of the three founders of the New York City's Group Theatre...

, Cheryl Crawford
Cheryl Crawford
Cheryl Crawford was an American theatre producer and director.Born in Akron, Ohio, Crawford majored in drama at Smith College. Following graduation, she moved to New York City and enrolled at the Theatre Guild's school...

 and Lee Strasberg
Lee Strasberg
Lee Strasberg was an American actor, director and acting teacher. He cofounded, with directors Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford, the Group Theatre in 1931, which was hailed as "America's first true theatrical collective"...

 and was made up of actors, directors, playwrights and producers. The Group gathered every summer at Pine Brook from 1931 until the early 1940s. During this time, they produced works by the most important American playwrights of the time on real life subject matter which changed stage and film forever.

Some of the artists who were known to have spent summers at Pine Brook at one time or another were; , Marc Blitzstein
Marc Blitzstein
Marcus Samuel Blitzstein, better known as Marc Blitzstein , was an American composer. He won national attention in 1937 when his pro-union musical The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down by the Works Progress Administration...

, Roman Bohnen
Roman Bohnen
Roman Bohnen was a stage and film actor.Born Roman Aloys Bohnen in St. Paul, Minnesota, Bohnen attended the University of Minnesota, where he was a cheerleader. He cheered so vigorously that it changed his voice for the rest of his life. After graduating in 1923 with a B.A., Roman served his...

, Phoebe Brand
Phoebe Brand
Phoebe Brand was an American actress, who was blacklisted along with her husband, Morris Carnovsky, in the McCarthy era.-Early life:...

, Morris Carnovsky
Morris Carnovsky
Morris Carnovsky was an American stage and film actor born in St. Louis, Missouri. He worked briefly in the Yiddish theatre before attending Washington University in St. Louis...

, Lee J. Cobb
Lee J. Cobb
Lee J. Cobb was an American actor. He is best known for his performance in 12 Angry Men his Academy Award-nominated performance in On the Waterfront and one of his last films, The Exorcist...

, Howard Da Silva
Howard Da Silva
Howard Da Silva was an American actor.-Early life:He was born Howard Silverblatt in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Benjamin and Bertha Silverblatt. His parents were both Yiddish speaking Jews born in Russia. He had a job as a steelworker before beginning his acting career on the stage...

, Frances Farmer
Frances Farmer
Frances Elena Farmer was an American actress of stage and screen. She is perhaps better known for sensationalized and fictional accounts of her life, and especially her involuntary commitment to a mental hospital...

, John Garfield
John Garfield
John Garfield was an American actor adept at playing brooding, rebellious, working-class character roles. He grew up in poverty in Depression-era New York City and in the early 1930s became an important member of the Group Theater. In 1937 he moved to Hollywood, eventually becoming one of Warner...

, Michael Gordon (film director)
Michael Gordon (film director)
Michael Gordon was an American stage actor and stage and film director.-Life and career:Gordon was born in Baltimore and raised in a middle class Jewish community. He was a member of the Group Theatre , and was blacklisted as a Communist in the days of McCarthyism...

, Will Geer
Will Geer
Will Geer was an American actor and social activist. His original name was William Aughe Ghere. He is remembered for his portrayal of Grandpa Zebulon Tyler Walton in the 1970s TV series, The Waltons....

, Paul Green (playwright), Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan was an American director and actor, described by the New York Times as "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history". Born in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, to Greek parents originally from Kayseri in Anatolia, the family emigrated...

, Canada Lee
Canada Lee
Canada Lee was an American actor who pioneered roles for African Americans. A champion of civil rights in the 1930s and 1940s, he died shortly before he was scheduled to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He became an actor after careers as a jockey, boxer, and musician...

, Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya was an Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress. In the German-speaking and classical music world she is best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill. In English-language film she is remembered for her Academy Award-nominated role in The Roman Spring of Mrs...

, Robert Lewis (actor), Sanford Meisner
Sanford Meisner
Sanford Meisner , also known as Sandy, was an American actor and acting teacher who developed a form of Method acting that is now known as the Meisner technique....

, Harry Morgan
Harry Morgan
Harry Morgan is an American actor. Morgan is well-known for his roles as Colonel Sherman T. Potter on M*A*S*H , Pete Porter on both Pete and Gladys and December Bride , Detective Bill Gannon on Dragnet , and Amos Coogan on Hec Ramsey...

, Clifford Odets
Clifford Odets
Clifford Odets was an American playwright, screenwriter, socialist, and social protester.-Early life:Odets was born in Philadelphia to Romanian- and Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Louis Odets and Esther Geisinger, and raised in Philadelphia and the Bronx, New York. He dropped out of high...

, Luise Rainer
Luise Rainer
Luise Rainer is a former German film actress. Known as The "Viennese Teardrop", she was the first woman to win two Academy Awards, and the first person to win them consecutively. She was discovered by MGM talent scouts while acting on stage in Austria and Germany and after appearing in Austrian...

, John Randolph (actor)
John Randolph (actor)
John Randolph was an American film, television and stage actor.-Early life:Randolph was born Emanuel Hirsch Cohen in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants Dorothy , an insurance agent, and Louis Cohen, a hat manufacturer...

, Irwin Shaw
Irwin Shaw
Irwin Shaw was a prolific American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author whose written works have sold more than 14 million copies. He is best-known for his novel, The Young Lions about the fate of three soldiers during World War II that was made into a film starring Marlon...

, Anna Sokolow
Anna Sokolow
Anna Sokolow was a Jewish American dancer and choreographer.-Training:...

, Ralph Steiner
Ralph Steiner
Ralph Steiner was an American photographer, pioneer documentarian and a key figure among avant-garde filmmakers in the 1930s.-Biography:...

, Paul Strand
Paul Strand
Paul Strand was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century...

, Franchot Tone
Franchot Tone
Franchot Tone was an American stage, film, and television actor, star of Mutiny on the Bounty and many other films through the 1960s...

 and Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill
Kurt Julian Weill was a German-Jewish composer, active from the 1920s, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht...


During the summer of 1936, Paul Green, Cheryl Crawford, Kurt Weill and Weill's wife Lotte Lenya rented an old house located at 277 Trumbull Avenue in Nichols which was about two miles from Pine Brook. It was here that Green and Weill wrote the screenplay and music for the controversial Broadway play Johnny Johnson (musical)
Johnny Johnson (musical)
Johnny Johnson is a musical with a book and lyrics by Paul Green and music by Kurt Weill.Based on Jaroslav Hašek's satiric novel The Good Soldier Švejk, it focuses on a naive and idealistic young man who, despite his pacifist views, leaves his sweetheart Minny Belle Tompkins to fight in Europe in...

, which was titled after the most frequently occurring name on the American casualty list of World War I. It was also during this time that Lotte Lenya had her first American love affair
Love Affair
Love Affair is a 1939 American romantic film starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer and featuring Maria Ouspenskaya. It was directed by Leo McCarey and written by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart, based on a story by McCarey and Mildred Cram....

 with Paul Green.

Pinewood Lake Association
In 1944 Pine Brook went into receivership and was sold, reorganized and chartered as the Pinewood Lake
Pinewood Lake
Pinewood Lake is a natural lake located on the west side of tall Mischa Hill in the Nichols Farms Historic District section of Trumbull, Connecticut.-Pinewood Lake Association:...

Association, a private lake association.