Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Moss Hart’s Act One: An Autobiography deals with three separate themes: the rise from poverty to financial stability, the acceptance of family, and success in a chosen career (the theater). The book details Hart’s life from childhood until his first major theatrical triumph. In doing so, it explores poverty as a force of discrimination and tells the story of how one member of a family makes his peace with the other personalities contained in that unit. To realize these goals, Hart divides his book into two sections, which he calls “Part One” and “Part Two,” just as any playwright divides acts of a work into scenes. He does not choose to number chapter divisions, but he indicates them by a broad margin at the top of the page.

Part One begins with the first time the boy Moss sees the theatrical Broadway district and ends when, after a disappointing summer as social director for the Half Moon Country Club, he sets out to write a play. Part Two begins four years later, after Hart becomes the most sought-after social director in the Catskills’ summer circuit and closes with the success of his first Broadway play, Once in a Lifetime (1930), written in collaboration with George S. Kaufman. The book concludes with the word “Intermission,” as Hart intended to finish the story of his life in a projected two volumes entitled Act Two and Act Three.

After Hart introduces his fascination with and love...

(The entire section is 435 words.)