(Clockwise from top left): Lois Bannerman, William Saroyan, Maxwell Bodenheim, Canada Lee, Carol Marcus, and Andrew Ratousheff
“The new drama season opens tonight at 8:40 at the Belasco when Across the Board on Tomorrow Morning and Talking to You, both written, produced and directed by William Saroyan, will be offered as the first presentations of the Saroyan Theatre,” declared the New York Times. “Mr. Saroyan plans to present one of his plays every two weeks if he is not inducted into the Army before he can carry out his scheme.”
Saroyan hired a down-on-his-luck Bodenheim to play himself in his one-act play, Across the Board on Tomorrow Morning. According to Saroyan’s biographers, "Bill's promotion of street characters to stage roles took a disturbing turn with the entrance of [Bodenheim], for decades the quintessential Greenwich Village Bohemian, but now a ravaging piece of human wreckage, [on opening night his] ad-libbed poetry only made the audience more fidgety, and those who tried to escape ... were greeted by a wall of rain."
Although the double bill only lasted five nights, and the Saroyan theatre was never heard of again, the production did hold the distinction of presenting the first Filipinos on the Broadway stage. As for the plays themselves, Saroyan wrote when one of the plays was published, “This play isn’t going to be the same for every person who sees it. Two times two is the same for everybody, but one never is, and you start to understand everything when you start to understand one. One of everything. That’s what art goes after. The whole. The works. One.”
Carol Marcus would marry Saroyan twice (1943-1949 and 1951-1952). Hirschfeld had known her since she was a teenager, and he squired around her, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Oona Chaplin to nightclubs to show them what the city had to offer. She would go on to have a long and happy marriage to another Hirschfeld friend, Walter Matthau.