Seminars in theatre; Episode 6 of 31
Don't you feel this is a healthy thing to do. Oh yes and I so much so that when I was with life with father Dean Dalrymple and I discussed and as a matter of fact after things get quiet again I'd like to bring it to the attention of the mayor. I would like to see city center which is a huge house. I have that same privilege privilege extended to our state and city employees are they certainly have a dedication cards if it 8:00 o'clock at night. The seats are not all gone it's city center I would like to see one of their cards pathname Ian's I think was an excellent I'll go out actual I think Brad O'Neill is going to be giving this as a subject for his discussion he also does a program for WNYC right now that is called Actors Equity presents. They discuss all subjects really related to the writing is a wonderful topic to indeed from the actors point you know it's pretty wonderful to have a full house. I mean as far as the actor is concerned we prove it in this equity don't listen we practically would work for nothing just to have an audience of people. It lifts people
out of the ads. They don't know news of everyday existence. Incidentally what is the reaction of the Donnell Library audiences to your productions most harmed by that. It's usually been very good and coming I don't think is a packed house. Usually it's there usually a few seats. I think that they auditorium seats three hundred did last performance so there we had around 200 said something like you kept quite busy with rehearsing these how long does one production take in terms of rehearsal and preparation. Well we don't put in an awful lot of rehearsal time together everybody does their homework and we get together several times and rehearse the entire reading and then we rehearse in sections those scenes between two or three people that seem to need it. This is based on the principle that we use very talented people
and we live very heavily upon their talent. Well Bob let me ask you a question. The trend of American theatre moves back and forth almost like a pendulum from non-verbal acting to verbal acting or at least the attempt on the part of American actors to handle speech at the present moment. Actors who can read well in the American theater are at a very I would say extreme minimal. How do you find and I would imagine first of all before I ask this question that I have to ask you a preparatory question and that is don't you need. Actors who have number one excellent diction number to command of their vocal instruments. Three who can make sense out of what they read. CHORUS OF COURSE. But you say that so easily and you say that so obviously but yet we have very few actors who can make sense when they're dealing with literature.
I think it must be hard among the younger generation for Bob to find people for these for these See this is the point. I think I'm very valuable to all of us of course to be in contact with that with that kind of discipline that has dealt in the radio technique and them but which is one reason why we all love to do it. But but I think we are misleading ourselves or we think it's a radio technique. It goes beyond that there's no I mean when I say something another network w o n e w had a program many years ago call something or other for the blind eye the theater for the blind of stories for the blind or something. And I heard about it and went over and asked if I could put my head and put my name in the hat. And the director was most charming and he said Oh Abby would love to have you darling but we're only going to use stars. So I said well if you ever change your format you know give me a buzz here's my number so about two weeks later he gave me a buzz and he said would you like to do one for us and I said What happened to the stars. And he said well they can't read.
No they had tried several and it is true. A good reader is easy is a part from a good actor and often a very good reader is not as good an actor without is reading it. It's a multiple It's kind of getting back to Bob Horan. Do you have difficulties finding that kind of ability and talent that you would seemingly need. Well surprisingly enough the area in which I do have the most difficulty is finding the young people possible is because I have no age where I don't know as many as I used to. But I know it isn't really a choice thing. I I don't recall that we've had much difficulty as far as voice production is concerned. You see this isn't as if we were doing. Shakespeare or British drama where some kind of special standardized diction is required I'm glad you mention above because I think this is the misconception that's prevalent in American theatre with American directors and with them they want to engage in that or generally the fact that you the exists the
forth the notion the concept that you have to have special I mean you know these place for example if we have someone who's playing the role of a star keeper in a large city then we would look for someone whose speech is that of a Starkey print a large American city one as a single speech of a storekeeper in a long while what I mean is he wouldn't necessarily have a very elegant stage kind of accent but would he ever have to have an elegant stage accent. And what do you mean by elegant stage accent. She This is what I think is throwing American theater off completely when it has to deal with the classics. Well it has to deal with Shakespeare Shaw or anything that removes itself from the naturalistic setting of an American play. Or do we find that this is not the prevalent notion. Well let's put it this way to me. I went in for an audition the other day and it was a series of words that I had not said probably ever in my life.
And like a child I stumbled on one. Now that in the English theater the people do a great deal of verbalizing if you want to call it they're brought up on the classics. It's merely a matter I think of practice of putting your tongue around certain words strung together. Now even your great singers when they go into a beautiful song until they get used to where the breath and quiet in other words we we just have not exposed ourselves to it ourselves to it. That's one journey that you have to go back to your shopkeeper for instance if I were playing a shop keeper that you say a store voice I would use something like yeah honey I want you one of my one of them alone because certain people in certain areas it's I come from the west and out west everybody talks very loudly. However come on over because the nearest neighbor is way over there. Yeah yes. Well these are these are good examples all of the people that do these readings are usually people who have done a great deal of stage work and who
earn their living at it and so that the question of. Voice problems doesn't really present itself Well let me enlarge the equipment that they regularly use. It's a question of practice vocal variety and not so much of a production. Dick I was backstage the other night just for a minute on an off-Broadway show and the most beautiful dancing. There was some wonderful wonderful such torrents of beautiful dancing. I talked to one of the actors afterwards and he said isn't that man wonderful. And I said he is so wonderful just so wonderfully like. God up there and able to report everything I said to me I never get an accommodation of anything except the scale the marvelous marvelous newness of this at the word and he said you know that actor that dancer has one line and I say yes he did it pretty well and he said you should see the glazed look on his face when he comes up goes the line is coming and I said that's because he has never never used to speak to you speaking power's always been the body.
And I said the reverse would be if I had to get up and do it then my argument playing out you know if I arrived at the moment but I say it's practice and that's a lovely part of the library. Yeah practice practice is what I want to practice has a wonderful concept. But you can practice the wrong things and perpetuate retrogressive ness that will never remove you from a kind of memory architecture that is necessary if one is going to improve American theater at large and I must qualify what I say. When I talking about speech in problems with diction in voice I'm not restricting it to your organization I mean I think I should. I mean it sounds like I'm talking about. But no I'm enlarging the question because as you say all of the people that are involved in your production are engaged in the theatre they make a living in the theater but this doesn't necessarily mean that they can handle the problems that they are making a living it doesn't.
No it does not. And as a young person starting out you're talking about speech standards and on the American stage especially with all the repertory companies developing now you can go to one of those repertory companies and some fairly large city and get Heinz's 57 varieties of speech and in one show and it's a great problem. There are so many talented young actors who stay home and imitate John Gielgud until they have that in their system. And it's it's part of them except you never quite mind. And there are others who were you know refused to clear up the Bronx you know in their accent. And we have to find some middle ground we have to find some strong person in the American theater I think who can say this is the standard or else I suppose it will just take years and years to evolve a standard of work for classics. But it's very prostrating because when you're auditioning for a group of people from these repertory companies each one has a different idea of what's good not only about speech but about.
And I think you're lucky if they have an idea because often the cases that each one has do they arrive at some idea. I call you know ideally guaranteed no standard of American speech. You know we're going to learn to speak English. You couldn't learn it with an American accent unless you learned it from an American and could imitate them and then you'd have whatever regional accent that American had if you wish to learn British English and you could learn it out of a book because it's been standardized for about 300 years. Not to say that all British speak exactly alike but there is a standard. We have something called general American speech which is a statistical average of pronunciation taken over the entire country and which our politicians claim is the standard but no one speaks general American because it is a statistical averages. Like when we did Macbeth we being I was in the company was Maryse Evans's Macbeth with Judith Anderson as Lady Macbeth. She was Australian.
He was from Britain brand new almost he done maybe one play before in this country to cause he done Saint Helena and then he had done Richard second. So we had a British heir who had an Australian. And the rest of the cast finally Keats might have also been British was American. But after working together in rehearsal and I from New Mexico. We had no criticisms ever across the whole nation that we didn't match speech wise I think it can be done it's just a matter of practice I agree with you can be done but when speech leaves a lot to be desired or at least the way he handles his voice in Minnie's approaching classics all of this is not again diminish his talent as a fine actor. Maurice Evans was a singer as a young man. And if you've ever read Macbeth and know how much he has to say then you realize that he has to get a format to ride on so to speak the better part is Lady Macbeth is no doubt about it because Lady
Macbeth is you know he's makes the brew and then she steps in and takes out the cream on every star. But you know it's true you know part but it's very mathematical was a relative. They soon saw that I think mag gets the last word. Or number of words. We will of course McDuff really gets the last word doesn't I'm. Yeah well yes with mag but I idea that you must ride something because there are a lot of lines or two again to me kind of concept that I don't know where it springs from. I don't understand it. Will you do it in life if you enter this room and climb 10 flights of stairs. You'd be riding your breath for about the first two pages of the script right. What do you mean when you say ride your breath. Well like this pretend I pretend I've come up 10 flights of stairs and you have to talk to me just just a minute I will read what I read.
The sailor's wife had chestnut in her lap marched in and she mustn't. Give me quote ironically which had rung and cried her husband's doing a post on the group about that. So I like her I would hesitate to tell you how to do so I play my hole first. Where you have to wait for me. I understand where M stands but I don't see what analogy can actually draw from this if he's playing Mack Beth. And simply because he has a little quiz of all 24 verse lines. What what is doesn't. Each thing each idea evolves from the previous idea or each physical action that is involved in speaking connect with the last previous Yes but also if you had a bad breakfast and your tummy is upset. That is a background that's what I call by writing a thing. In other words if you have an upset tummy and you're sitting there today and you're not very happy though you relate to me and I relate to you and we ask questions back and forth. If you are used
to revealing what you want to reveal. All the way through the interview I would know you had a tummy ache right. So will the audience anyone in this room would know it and that's what I mean by writing. When you have a very very difficult part and an awful lot of words and you study it real real hard and you can't find enough transitions now in the play we're doing on a week Monday. It is full of wonderful abrupt transitions which are great. Because it's very attention getting but if you can't find translations they say this new this is a whole well it's full of almost stylization translations I haven't seen it yet but they're wonderfully exciting. And if you want I'll give you an example. Oh and here I am back again. You see if you don't have those you have to have something. It's like going over a waterfall. Have to call it riding I say to Mr. Evans is what we referred to. He goes back to his wonderful singing line and I must say this that there are many things that I wish that he had. He had made for
transitions so to speak. So that there wasn't a tendency toward monotony. Shall I say sameness never monotony sameness. But I must say this that the method evolved was so magnificent that I used to stand in the wings to watch. At times he moved and I would get so carried away with the verbal line of whatever you want to call it. And I'm sure the same thing is with feelgood all those people who were trained that way. Ike to this day can't tell you what line he moved so that there is a value in this. This overall a what I call emotion whatever you chose whether it was a direct line to put his speech on what. But if you can't arrive at transitions in evolving a part you just have to have used up a crutch which are transitions as well as Mr. Hagan. Mr. Horan I mean that this question is open to everyone. Transitions are a matter of psychological changes and awareness is an active transition of vocal if we're talking about vocal transitions.
They the change in speech occurs only because of the change in the emotional state or the intellectual state or the physical state. That's right what are the chord eruption in me now. If we hear an actor reading or Acting Shakespeare of it say the part of Macbeth and his speech moves along on the same note. The same for the most part the same pitch. It's because usually he isn't thinking not because he doesn't have the ability for transitions within his grasp as an actor. But there is no thought provoking the change one another which every actor has a bad day as well as a good one. Well you have a bad day you have to. Now we get back to what you mentioned earlier and that's discipline and in connection with young actors directors in terms of American theater where are they to really learn and arrive at the value of discipline in understanding the total totality of their
craft as actors. Well I think if you're asking me the question. I had the privilege of casting for a friend who's out of town. And I telephoned several people and I waited till 11 o'clock in the morning to phone. And when I find a 25 year old person still asleep at 11 o'clock in the morning my answer is this that your discipline begins as early as you are aware that you need discipline in your life so that you are the master of your fate. Of course you have tremendous forces on the outside pushing and saying oh do this do that do what not but. The discipline in the theater is borne of personal discipline. And when you begin to learn. For instance I was saying to a young girl at rehearsal yesterday. Beautiful child. You smoke. You're what. Twenty two and you're smoking. I said it's a lack of
discipline. You will destroy the one house you have to live in that you cannot replace the one time on earth that you will come of this combination. You are destroying Now to me good discipline. After that little lecture that I gave her would be to put the cigarette out and never touch it again. Now there be many precious saying all come out in smoke. We do it thoughtlessly at a cocktail party or come on and drink you know. But I say discipline for the theater. You show me a human being and I will show you the discipline act. Peter being a young actor do you find it difficult to. Number one understand what discipline is or number two to get together to receive training in those areas where discipline is most important to find that we have enough outlets here to train actors for the Herculean career of being on stage. Well and as we all know there are many. Many different
approaches to acting in New York and some of them leave quite a bit to be desired there. They're rather specialized and I happen to study with a lady named Yves Collier who probably has an approach different than anyone else in town and she she does believe very much in discipline and she does deal with a wide variety plays wide a variety of styles so that we are prepared for the expanding kind of theatre that we're going to experience I think. But I don't know I've noticed so much that singers and dancers particularly have so little problem with with the discipline you see when once they've when they come to acting that is you see once they've solved that in their dancing and. And I must say I admire them when they come to acting. And you can you can notice that I think location goes where very briefly not to whip an old horse but the idea is that
everyone thinks he or she can be an actor more or less by walking on stage but no one would dare. Present himself on stage as a dancer if his muscles weren't trained in order to hold him up a wonderful point you've made. Not only do the public think that but the people who are actors think that which is dangerous. But most of all I think that you find out pretty soon that you need discipline and. Some never find it out. I think Peter I think it's witnessed by the fact that we'll have a we'll see in this country excellent actors who in their first appearance really have some electrifying qualities other than in the area of their talent. And if they could only take it from there and disciplined as I was then we could have a new Libya in this country which. I haven't seen any Olivier maybe a lot of people would say I don't want to see him to live in this country but I maintain Olivier is the 20th century actor actress and of course it doesn't take perception or brilliance to maintain that but at least I just want to say it
because it's a primitive reference for I think any actor who wants to act because he wants to be in the theatre not because he has an erotic need. I would if I have to say something I met Joyce Redmond when she was here doing and the Thousand Days with Mick Harrison. And now we were entertained over at The Players Club. I was with the group because we had done Macbeth as a players club revival on the network's NBC anyway. Joyce Redmond had just worked with Laurence Olivier and she said that at the time that Laurence Olivier was everybody turns a corner in his life. At the time he decided to stay to stop being just a good actor and start being great. He had to fool around with what he would do with parts and she said she was present at one of those transitions when the people said what's happening to Larry you know what. What does he think he's doing what is this. And he stayed with it. And of course he came out on the side of greatness so that I merely say this in case young people are listening even he had to have his discipline and he had to make his choice and decide which
way his talent was going to go. Of course he's been magnificent ever since and by the way I do want to include your schedule so that listeners might take a trip over to Darnell library and see the result of all this conversation and some passion about the Sunday. Promina. Performance will take place at the Donna Library Center that's Monday February 26 and February 19th. We haven't reached one thousand performances in Hudson. It had such a dark library. We do one premieres that Rog. Right away I was going to park library at. Seventh Avenue. And Lee Rice street where the Carmen St. Paul that's downtown with an uptown as that on a lot of it which I think most every library go knows is on Fifty third Street between them six going to be the primary and then nightcap would be in March March 4th and 11 again at
the same library's March for the tots and parking at night cafe by bank Brot is not it. Right now March 18th is a month one thousand nine hundred twenty fifth. Oh by Sandra Oh and the translations by the way are done on these American they have Swedish names Carlton Stephens and Raphael are they. Well Harry Carlson who's translated The Probably not is an American and he lives. And Daryn we used to say he as he said a professor at Queens College currently. Holding this is the official English translator for lies for him. Again all of these performances are free of charge and they begin at what time 8 o'clock at 8:00 o'clock. Well I hope that we get a chance to see the Scandinavian drama series before they leave the Swedish area and when you do leave Sweden where
do you go from there. I don't know. We want to thank our guests Abby Lewis. Thank you again and thank you as a member of the Scandinavian drama series Bob Horan the director an actor and Peter Hague who also is an actor with the series that's the Scandinavian drama series at the Public Library. And until next week good night. That concludes tonight's seminars and theater your comments on this evening's program or suggestions for a future broadcast should be addressed to Richard Paey at WNYC New York 100 0 7. This program was distributed by a national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
- Seminars in theatre
- Episode Number
- Episode 6 of 31
- Producing Organization
- WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Series Description
- For series info, see Item 3231. This prog.: Scandinavian Drama Series. Swedish plays. Abby Lewis (or Louis), actress, wife of actor John D. Seymour; Bob Horen, actor, director from Hunter College; Peter Haig, actor.
- Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 6 of 31,” 1968-02-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-0k26fc0q.
- MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 6 of 31.” 1968-02-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-0k26fc0q>.
- APA: Seminars in theatre; Episode 6 of 31. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-0k26fc0q