Seminars in theatre; Episode 28 of 31
They do not bore you. You may not like it but I don't think you get a chance to be bored at least through the first half of any of them. Maybe just second half boredom may set in although I may be very clear here that doesn't happen in music because there's a kind of episodic thing I want one I want to congratulate you on at present because you've hit upon a very very serious among many items as a very serious matter in that play which you skillfully wrote to provoke laughter. And it does. But I think the section dealing with the options of CBS and NBC getting the exclusive contract on who is going to film what soldiers in what part of the campaign. This is I believe in more truth than I do I'm what their favorite thing in the
play of the making up for battle I really like. Because you see it happening in knots. I mean you can see it happening on television when you watch it but the news media in a great degree is responsible I believe for the behavior of the characters as they start to report about. And this is a beautiful section in the play I think that alone is just just fascinating to watch it unfold in this very comical. Series of exchanges between the jack argue and his cohort there. And another thing I am not giving too much of this away really because most of this is visual and if you hear about it doesn't matter anyway because you still have to see it but I think another way you dispense with realism or the conventional technique is when argues body when argue kills himself. That. The blood we
see the stage assistant pouring catch up on the guy downstairs. I mean I think that that again is that it has a twofold effect. We know you are doing it. Aware that we were all agreed. OK that's good that's the exciting thing. The one of the thing about theater today is it comes from well from within from expressionism from Bragg whatever but it's finally finding its own way in this country. But if a man does kill himself you don't have to have an involved series of effect said wait a minute now we get a pellet right here and I think you know when audiences are so jaded they know how everything is done you know and if you do have an incredible effect on stage what have you know there's old the old days of Ben-Hur. I was going to say hey look about how is that OK. You know already so why. And so everybody is so incredibly open. That if you have
an effect onstage you don't say hey what a great effect. How do they do that I want to know how they did that and the only way to make the magic come back into theater. I know with ketchup you know with ketchup so we shall pour ketchup signify the man is dying because we say oh so becomes ketchup and then becomes blood. A couple of years ago it would have been all blood of ketchup just reversed. It's just the whole series is extremely effective as almost if you have to give the devil his due and I say it's extremely effective from any standpoint you can still get the same emotional impact from watching this ketchup or because the meaning is very unless you're a ketchup manufacture. You know if you're catching manufacture you're overjoyed you're using up all that time to get out of sight in a bottle. I mean you have a mercenary standpoint. One other thing though from the point of view of actors and actresses it
seems to me that someone who has been acting in theatre for a while. Derives the enjoyment of character development of being able to get inside a character as it were let's assume these commonly known things are true this is what actors like to do to work out whether they're working out their own neuroses or whether they are objectively involved in the theatre winning awards or in other words. But this type of writing you mentioned earlier that often you think it's more exciting but why when there is no for example in Red Cross posing with a girl in red cross. There's no character development. There is no none of the usual. Serious involvement with an action that goes here there and moves somewhere logically do you think this is as much fun. This kind of theater is as much fun to act then or as creative
an experience as conventional theatre. Well if you're acting in a play like that you can make up your own character you can do yourself and making wrong choices and you almost become the companion of the author. You know you not demanded to can you do that in other plays. Well Emma and I are not conventional play you but there is a demand to fulfill a specific character quality quality. And then that's all. It's like I'm filling out something in a play I read cause I would feel more. There would be a personality thing you play you play yourself on and then that would become the character. There's more. It's more enjoyable in a creative sense than having a very definite. Character work is more work. Yeah how do you explain that. It seems to me that the responsibility has been dropped. You're not responsible for
any one thing any more. So consequently you go after anything. Why is it more now because you have to have a logic as an actor in the thing. Things have to follow logically. We had to play them. You can't just say I'll do this year and that there and they don't have anything to do with each other. They have to be related. Well from the viewpoint of an audience I would say watching music is not necessarily any logic indeed playwrights themselves John has already stated that logic has been done away with that. That is logic as well no no I didn't say that. No I said. A rather a very rational logic has been has been done away with. It's a must follow B must follow the same as followed. Well like at the end Peggy in the center of the play plays Lady of ill repute. Well suddenly in the last scene as the hero is dying she suddenly appears as a martyr a characterization jumps out of her jumpsuit and does a performance distraught with a
costume made out of New York Times. And she sings this this you know this revival song to about all the people in the news that we make sense of that edge that you just drummed over the head with and there's no character development for her to work toward to get to that point in the play you know because we're getting to a sense. Coming back to earth and the performance and its way it's very it's very at the Actors Studio The method is something that existed then it's funny. But you write very definite characters. I think there are points that have to be. I think John writes actor proof play. What does that mean route of proof play. There are things that have to be felt and you have to have a lot of subtext going on in order to get to them. Well if we're if we're after the kind of theater where individuals come in and their preconceived notions of existence
has been done away with then there's no preconception for what you're doing there's no frame of reference and what you do is to be taken. In and of itself at the moment for what it is. Is that a correct assessment. You know I know that moment to moment. I don't mean that it's you know with a will it work this moment it doesn't have to work to the next moment you know it forces you to find a truer sense of what it is what the idea is behind what you're writing and you can hopefully this week you can become involved much more in the theater of ideas room because you are instead of using the actor of the actors for simply for plot point and for an old cry and now cry you know now pay you will have a you know a laughing scene and you know when things you know that the actors will do that because I know the things that Peggy can do best as an actress but employing those for the greater meaning for her hopefully in music or that you know the Chinese
basket job the specialty of the house if used not only for some kind of hopefully really good comic erotic moment but also for pretentiously it sounds but I hopefully it does work in some kind of purely political motives you know to see why this met why this man is coming here what he you know it's the need behind all these people. Let me ask you this question John. Do you feel that the serious illness of your ideas or any playwright writing in this fashion. It stands in jeopardy of being understood as seriously as let's say you are intimating when you write about it through the use of this none serious or non conventional approach. The theater is good has got to be a place when you come to see a play you come to be excited and you come to have a wonderful time and the trouble with there is the trouble with serious theatre in America has been for too many years that oh
a serious play means you're very serious and and bored and bored in that culture something Rama great you know makes the theatre ten feet tall like they should be a couple of stories high you know. Why if an idea is serious. Then the idea can take care of itself. Do you feel there's also one center of the perpetuator of this and you're going to be more and more. And you're investing a great deal of self money and everything else. Do you see here and this type of philosophical and practical approach to theatre. A lesson for society generally. By that I mean most of our reactions are based upon pro cycling logical preconceptions of people I mean we we meet people and we have an immediate response. Suppose we based upon most of us I say based upon our preconceptions.
One of the television channel did a very interesting broadcast and they had a picture of a man and said What do you see. You see a man or do you see color I saw him and it's an interesting thing because it's based upon our subjective perceptual preconditioned physiological setup. But if we did away as playwrights like John are asking us to do to do and and shepherd to do it with. When we come to the theater dispense with the preconception of ideas and just allow this to move in on you whatever way it's moving and there's no parallel here. I mean what would happen in society if we did that. Where did we get a new kind of society like we're getting a new kind of theater or would it be worth it. We are getting a new thought. Is it because of that. I think it's an added to the an attitude which is not purely theatrical and does reflect in the times that I mean it always has. When you think of I think it's so great that a Resurrection City
USA exists. I mean that does away with. They said yesterday that if Congress doesn't pass the bill they'll follow them home will follow Congressman home. Now that is the purpose you know isn't it. Well I mean that man is in Congress you don't really you have some respect for him. Well it's funny respect on a totally different level and I think we are doing with the preconceived notions we said OK if the party's going to exist in this country then we will explode poverty so much will build the biggest slum you ever saw in your life right in the shadow of the you know the shot of the Capitol. We're going to show you what it's like. And a demonstration to demonstrate the whole sense of demonstrations and the whole sense of freedom today whether it's sexual or political or interesting or artistic. It all comes out of the whole same attitude that says. We know what's here. Let's look at it in a different way. So I think we're all spoiled. I've discussed this a lot I think nowadays. Members communications are spoiled about how we can have anything go on a thing go anywhere do anything eat anything
see anything be anything and we're all spoiled. And here's something you haven't seen some you haven't done so well so that should be the experience that you can't get anywhere else like a lot of films today or films today are so stylistically wonderful but they overwhelm you you can just sit in the big like they are totally overwhelmed and you go home and and you listen to your radio your television and you hear people whispering to you you know telling you things. The theater is the only place there still is that. Barrier between you. I used to cry in the movies all the time and now I go and I look at their vectorial effect through the theater is the last place we get anywhere where it's man to man. I think that for years I talked to some friends about the fact that I'd rather see I rather go to a film I enjoy a good cowboy film because it was very very real for me. They do the job so much better in what they're
trying to do. In theater I always have to worry about the actors. My going to hear them or the playwright did he write up something that I can make sense out of or not make sense out of but I wasn't to worry about this craft element in theater that I don't have to worry about because I have it down so beautifully and in a way it's more exciting it's like being on a precipice and away from the thoughts of when not if it bores you as most plays on Broadway in the past and I have to speak with that reservation because I automatically don't go to most plays on Broadway for that reason I know I'm going to be bored. The last one I saw was soldiers which bored me considerably and I'm not talking out of behind anyone's back I had shit Hermann Sharma and and John Kelly COS and Tony church and we discussed the boredom aspect of this. Here essentially is a play of serious ideas I mean Winston Churchill's motivation and so forth but it failed to have the
impact it failed to really deliver the message that wanted to deliver simply because of the directorial ineptitude and the the whole thing and yet you know what they can also be a fascination with boredom I think which is something Sam Shepard plays on a bit and you only certainly develop That's one reason I think that working together Sam Shepherd is running away to the only film he's on that so you know I do for you know. Do you feel that we all need new training institutions. John and Peggy and Lauren too for actors to train for the kind of mixed media theatre that we seem to be more and more stressing I know yeah I have a grant at Yale last year and you know Robert Bruce Lee has taken over a school that was fairly classically oriented you know although they never had an acting department. Yes they did the Yale Drama School.
Did that. Oh sure. Oh yes run by Constance well. I'm all right my my it is yes it is your hair so that a very strong act. Paul Newman in Julie Harris came out of it and that awful and incredible number of actors have come out of the acting department Yale Drama School isn't even get a degree in anything an actor. Yeah but prior to that I think about five years or I don't know how many years ago really never had 130 graduate school Maybe you confuse me with college. I am. Does the college have a theater major. No the dramas I'm talking about the drama school etc from the you know drama school would you know graduate Right right you start looking at Yale University really. I was too. OK all right I just said yeah you know very you have universities the college and it's the forestry school you know and then there are the law school and the rocking class and their drama department I didn't know that since 1930. OK. One of the strongest in the country. Yeah right. Although you know and.
A very classically oriented you know with you know diverse tangential and fencing and dancing and suddenly boosting came in and actors are so much more is being demanded of actors now under the brutal regime that you know they are taught. I mean that when they it's just more of the dancing I mean everybody's extended their voices their extended the vocal training is extended the physically so much more is demanded of an actor today where it really is becoming the act to be forward to some kind of you know walk out on stage. Learn to speak have some kind of emotional truth. And that's pretty good. There's a whole thing in the dance of how an instrument has been done this when he's brought the. The same teachers into Yale that have been perpetuating the kind of method acting that they have gone in and modified it from as well as a broad style Adler into take acting and some of the other individuals who have not advanced any new
ideas regarding training or actors but I don't throw everything away. If you don't throw everything away it's not saying oh my god that's all terrible We're going to is going to you know totally new revolution. It's not a revolution because Stella Adler was trained by some of the Lasky herself she is a brilliant actress she's a very very good actress. There is great. He knows what you are talking about but what you talk about is not the end all be all the people who brought it to the place that haven't done it you know on a wide think dynamite and I was down there directed by Poles. Well now that demands an entirely new approach you might have the emotional truth that if then I look into you but you must also know all the Improv of the Tory techniques that pull through from the second city can bring you. We were talking also about money and the need for playwrights and theatre generally to get some kind of assistance
financially to enable them to survive long enough if the work is where they are long enough for it to be seen by enough. Persons and one of the things I think you mentioned maybe before we went on the air John was the news about one of the foundations. Subsidizing Broadway plays. Past the opening few weeks enough to allow them to continue with performances and we were speaking about foundations. Aiding the arts in this way generally with the gene O'Neill Memorial Theatre Foundation which has been very helpful to a number of playwrights including yourself. Do you see this as moving as where we are going to end up. I mean is this to be desired as far as you are concerned. Well we do see that America last year put aside 3 million dollars for benefits to the arts and England 10 times that
amount of benefits to the arts. And this is why we're living and that's why our theater the Broadway theater is so. So English domination from the English is because the government supports the theatre and can make a theatre possible and of course you know theater critics you can't you can't expect any true reaction from an audience when they come in and they've said OK I've spent $12 for this I dare you to entertain me $12 what I could have done with 12 just $25 tickets for two. That's not just winning on the government all scientists at the same place that produced it is quite different and I think you're right. I'm not sure they can if they connected. That's what the great cure is to get the history for being subsidized by them and I say well you can't do that play. I mean would you be able to put on that. That long scene in music possibly possibly Don't you know you know I mean the first is the nudity. The first stage of nudity came from England in my
outside and I remember they haven't been able to produce soldiers in yet. Well I think the way you described it they're very small. I tried I got I said I don't think it was political reasons but artistically I'm not a producer. Our time has sort of come to the period where we have to close as nonexistent curtain. And I heard it was time to pull away but congratulate all of you on this venture and Warren on the success of it. What it has achieved is you enter into the Broadway scene. And John where the playwright who is responsible for music at the Provincetown Playhouse and Peggy pope who is responsible for that delightful house of the repute pleasure house of pleasure and pleasure has come to be it will be true.
- Seminars in theatre
- Episode Number
- Episode 28 of 31
- Producing Organization
- WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-28 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 28 of 31,” 1968-07-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-154ds27h.
- MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 28 of 31.” 1968-07-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-154ds27h>.
- APA: Seminars in theatre; Episode 28 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-500-154ds27h