Affairs of State

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Release date: August 1971
Venue: Green Mountain Guild
Directed by: Robert O'Neil-Butler
Literature: Louis Verneul

The heroine, Irene (Meryl Streep) is a shy and mousy little school teacher, who is persuaded to marry a wealthy senator to cover up his romance with the ambitious spouse of an ex-Sectretary of State. With money to spend on clothes and beauty parlors, the temporary wife blossoms into a charming and intellegent hostess. Naturally, the Senator falls in love with her. And furthermore, he develops an admiration for her talents as a shrewd backstage politician. She wangles him an appointment as Under Secretary of State, thus making it impossible for her to create a scandal with his first love.

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After graduating from Vassar College, Meryl Streep joined the newly founded Green Mountain Guild in Quechee, Vermont, which started as a Summer stock theatre and then continued with a Winter season, where they “took Chekhov to ski resorts. You could hear the snoring in the bar and the snowmobiles outside.” After a season with the Green Mountain Guild, Meryl Streep decided to go to professional graduate school and enrolled at Yale University in 1972.

I’d just come out of the master’s program in acting at Yale, where we had it drummed into our heads that there was no work in New York. Several of the major theaters, back in 1975, were boarded up and closed. Everyone at school thought you should get out and audition for a repertory company somewhere outside of the city — Washington, Houston or San Francisco — and that’s what most of my class did. But I didn’t get on that bus… My friend Joe Grifasi, who got me into the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference in the first place, really saved my life. When I think about my time there, I think about the cacophony of my career since, because that’s where it all started: lots of different plays, all new material, with a great sense of fun and adventure and exploration. The way I was trained and came up in the theater had everything to do with being deeply involved with the writers and the director, with the collaborative sense of the ensemble. And that’s sort of the way I’ve conducted the rest of my life. You don’t move too far outside of the conservatory where you grew up. (Meryl Streep, The New York Times, May 02, 2014)