July 6, 1937
I was very glad to hear from you and terribly sorry to learn that you had been seriously ill. I do hope that you have recovered completely.
I have thought of you often and I have also thought about the “Serf-Actress”.[*] I quite agree with you on it. I had the same fear, that the outline as we had it, was not quite modern enough for the Broadway I have seen and know better than I did before I came here. I still think it is a good idea and a very interesting theme that has a good play in it. But you are quite right, there is nothing I could do about it now. It isn’t that I have lost interest, but that I do not see even a remote possibility of when I could come back to Hollywood. I have been in one mad rush after another, ever since I came to New York, and as things look now I have more rushes awaiting me this winter. Of course, one can never tell, everything changes so quickly and is so uncertain in the writing game, but at present it looks to me as if I’m tied to New York for another season.
So it is only fair if I release any interest I may have had in the “Serf-Actress” and do not hold you up on it any longer, since you want to proceed on it yourself. No, I do not want to take any percentages or royalties on it, because I don’t feel that I have put enough time and work into it to warrant a percentage. If you remember, I was busy on other things when we were working on our outline and I never could devote to it the time I would have liked to devote. Besides, it is your own idea and you may put a great deal of work into it before it is ready as a play. Since I was to write the play and have not been able to carry it out, I do not feel that I am entitled to share in the royalties. So you may consider this an official release of any claims I may have on the “Serf-Actress”, whether you use parts of our outline or not.
I am very sorry that I was not able to carry it out, but I do think it is best if you
proceed on it alone, since you have the time and I may not have any for another year or more. I wish you all the luck in the world with it and I hope to be present on its opening night on Broadway. I do think it could be a most unusual play. If there is any question on Russian life that I can help you with, please let me know and I would be delighted to tell you all the information I know.
My play which Ivan [Lebedeff, a Russian-born actor whom AR knew in Hollywood] mentioned to you must be the adaptation of my novel “We the Living”. Jerome Mayer bought it for the stage, before it was written as a play, and I dramatized it myself. It[ ]was a terribly hard job—took me all winter. I don’t think I ever want to do another dramatization. It’s much harder than writing two new plays. It will be produced this fall, if all goes well. We have great difficulties in casting the leading part of “Kira”.[**]
I am now working on another play, because two producers are tentatively interested in it, at least in the idea of it. I am also working slowly, at nights, on my next novel. The publishers here and in England are already asking questions as to when, what and how soon it will be ready. I am really trying to cover two fields, or as my editor at Macmillan said, riding two horses, and I want to try not to let either one of them throw me.
We have moved for the summer to Stony Creek, Connecticut. There is a nice summer stock theater here and Frank is acting in it. It will be very good experience for him. And the place is so quiet, that I seem to be doing the best work I’ve done for months. It’s an ideal place for a writer.
We shall be here all summer and I do hope I’ll hear from you again. You can reach me at the above address—there are no street numbers here.
Frank joins me in sending you our best regards,
*Nothing in the Ayn Rand Archives relates to such a playscript.
**A theatrical version of We the Living was produced on Broadway in 1940 under the title The Unconquered. Closing after just five days, it was later described by AR as a “total flop.”