Watch for the “tea party” scene! (screen capture from site)

Watch for the “tea party” scene! (screen capture from site)

Time to see how tea plays a role in another movie. This one is called “Act One,” based on the autobiography of playwright Moss Hart who gained fame on Broadway. The movie is interesting for seeing the dedication and effort that art takes but also for how the term “tea party” is being used.

Young playwright wannabe Moss Hart (ably portrayed by a young, handsome, and untanned George Hamilton) had spent four years writing serious dramas, hoping to get one produced on Broadway. But his agent sees that Hart might be better at comedy. He drafts a comedy and sends it to Warren Stone, a big shot Broadway producer who claims interest but never follows through. Meanwhile, a friend brings the play to the attention of George S. Kaufman’s agent, who brings it to Kaufman’s attention. Hart then begins collaborating with Kaufman on the play for producing on Broadway. They are working in Kaufman’s home in his private office on the third floor. All day long they go through the grueling task of trying to be funny (it’s harder than you’d think). After awhile, Kaufman’s wife invites Hart to join her and George at a “tea party” she is giving later that day.

The year, by the way, is 1929 and Prohibition is in full effect. As such, other avenues are used to obtain alcoholic beverages, so the “tea” at this “tea party” wasn’t tea — wink, wink!

A few years back the term “tea party” began being used in a very un-tea party like fashion. Many serious tea folk objected. Some stated that it messed up online searches where the results for “tea party” kept popping up these non-tea items. Some disagreed with the people who were using the term and thought the whole concept of a tea party was forever being tainted (sort of a guilt by association kind of thing). Well, there is some merit in their concerns and yet in some ways those concerns are overdone. Online searches for “tea” and “tea party” pop up all kinds of strange things, not just this one particular usage that’s being found objectionable. As for that “guilt by association,” if we use the term “tea party” for its legitimate purpose, that will hopefully overshadow any misuse.

As for that movie, I’ll excuse the use of “tea party” for their occasion of secretly consuming definitely non-tea beverages. Anyone knowing the situation would not be fooled and actually expect tea in that cup! Another instance of tea in the movies being somewhat educational.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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