Night of January 16th
Night of January 16th is a theatrical play by Russian-American author Ayn Rand. Set in a courtroom during a murder trial, an unusual feature of the play is that members of the audience are chosen to play the jury. The play was first produced in 1934 in Los Angeles under the title Woman on Trial. Producer Al Woods took it to Broadway during the 1935–36 season and re-titled it Night of January16th.
About Night of January 16th in brief
Night of January 16th is a theatrical play by Russian-American author Ayn Rand. Set in a courtroom during a murder trial, an unusual feature of the play is that members of the audience are chosen to play the jury. The play was first produced in 1934 in Los Angeles under the title Woman on Trial; it received positive reviews and enjoyed moderate commercial success. Producer Al Woods took it to Broadway during the 1935–36 season and re-titled it Night of January16th. It drew attention for its innovative audience-member jury and became a hit, running for seven months. An off-Broadway revival in 1973, under the name Penthouse Legend, was a commercial and critical failure. A film based on the play was released in 1941; the story has also been adapted for television and radio. Rand drew inspiration for the play from The Trial of Mary Dugan, a 1927 melodrama about a showgirl prosecuted for killing her wealthy lover. She based her victim on Ivar Kreuger, a Swedish businessman known as the “Match King” for the matchstick-manufacturing monopolies he owned, before he was found dead in March 1932. Rand’s intention was to dramatize a conflict between individualism and conformity, with the jury’s verdict revealing which viewpoint they preferred. She wanted her play’s ending to depend on the result of the trial, rather than having a fixed final scene. Rand wrote the stage play with the hope of making money from it while finishing her first novel, We the Living.
In 1968 she re-edited the script for publication as the ‘definitive’ version. It opened at the Hollywood Playhouse on October 22, 1934, and closed on November 22, 1944. It is the first play to be produced by a neophyte author and has not been a hit in several years and had not been produced in the early 1930s and early 1940s. Rand had never written a stage play, but had worked in Hollywood as a junior screenwriter for Cecil B. DeMille, and later in RKO Studios’ wardrobe department. In September 1932, Rand sold an original screenplay, Red Pawn, to Universal Studios and quit RKO to finish her first book, We The Living. She was 28 and had been in the United States for seven years after emigrating from the Soviet Union, where her strong anti-Communist opinions had put her at risk. In 1934 her agent was trying to sell the play and the novel, but both were repeatedly rejected. Rand turned down an offer from Welsh actor E. Clive E. Clive to produce the play on Broadway; Clive produced the play. Rand rejected the offer from him, but he renewed his contract to produce it on Broadway, but made more changes to the script to give her the right to make more adjustments to the contract. Rand disliked the changes made for the Broadway production and the version published for amateur productions, so in 1968 she changed the script.