Seminars in theatre; Song of the Lusitanian Bogey cast, part two
Well there's a question I want to throw at all of you. Could I go to where you get that I think I think that inevitably with the work of the company is going to be a showcase but the purpose of the company is not only to to bring new talent specifically Nigro talent to the notice and attention of the theatre going public but it is to give potential talent a place to grow a place to work a place to really sharpen the tools. A place that has not existed in the American theater scene for a very long long time. And place that can give rise to. People who have who have the talent for a specific job and
specifically on the production side and the technical aspects the designing the. Lighting Director and the stage managing etc where Negroes because of the state of the theatre have not. Been given the chance to work in to develop this aspect. I think that is the real purpose of BN and that purpose is being fulfilled. I mean certainly the first production but does this mean that all white individuals will be excluded from the Negro Ensemble Company. Well it is the Negro Ensemble Company just self-explanatory but we already are using European white playwrights. I don't know Michael white actors I guess we have a job and well
that's the boy but I really don't. I couldn't speak for the really just white actors I mean you know I think if we were exclusively an all black company then I think that purpose a main purpose would be shot. We have to eventually have an integration of you know active in the Negro Ensemble Company. This may well be that you know this is my thinking you know whatever I may not like the actual They might not know the actual case but this is my own person and you know I don't know what the set up. There's a lot of healing about that from a number of Negro actors and audience goers that some are really. Vehemently opposed to a totally non integrated theater because they feel this again puts the group in a pocket a vacuum
and they're not exposed to all of the experiences that would benefit a company. This is a viewpoint I've heard. But you know I think that the very fact that being a Negro Ensemble Company and doing the work that we're doing proves something which is much more important than integration for the sake of integration in theater. I've worked on Broadway and the particular play I performed in. I was chosen carefully carefully chosen because the production office said that we're going to integrate. But I had nothing to do in the show but I was integrating the Danes. I would have traded that experience which wasn't a total waste because I did soak soak up the Broadway experience but I would have traded those
months for a decent role a challenging role. In any other company. Well this was not necessary. Not necessarily the result of a racial experience or a political experience because many actors on Broadway come away from it feeling that their whole experience has been one of complete many of the actors which actors don't black white actors. They have a better chance. Well I think this is what I'm getting at I think that artistic exclusion if a company is functioning politically and let's say there's I'm not bipolar making a value judgment you know in terms of the negro And so yes let's say the Negro Ensemble Company if they're operating on an ideology. I mean this is their functioning functioning and motivated by an ideology rather than an artistic principle or if the ideology mixes in coordinates the artistic principle then their reasoning is fairly clear
because you say well it's a negro ensemble comedy we want to know white performers members connected with this. And then. But what is the what is the what is the viewpoint. I see a lot of a lot of people very upset because the Negro Ensemble Company exists. And so right away the topic black quote comes into the news print the way black power. It's really a false topic. And I don't think anywhere if you if you look at the statements of any see in the press will you find any dogmatic ideological basis for the theatre the theatre exists as I
said primarily to offer a place for actors and technicians to develop their talents to give them. One place hundreds and hundreds where were right where they would get a chance to work. Try and infuse a new dynamic quality into it and I think it's a very good thing that the Negro Ensemble Company exists. Maybe get rid of some of that time. I think Michael pointed up something that is very important and that is a misconception that grows out of hearing scattered reports or looking at things fractionally more fragmented. When you see because if the Negro Ensemble Company were I would make a just an observation if it were dedicated to Black Theatre totally
It wouldn't be functioning right now. Not the way it is going and I think that speaks for itself but I think as you pointed out a lot of people apply labels and directions to organizations that have no intent at all to live up to them. For example the public doesn't see behind the scenes. A lot of the staff is composed of white shoes. They don't realize that the audience is majority white audience. And also one of the objectives of the theatre is to create a larger theater going audience to instill the desire. For people to come into the theater not only among the negro theatregoing of well a potential best potential source
of theatre going audience from the Negro population but also to bring back some of the people who are disenchanted. With theatre as it stands today and there are a lot of those. And reasonably so. Which brings me to another area of questioning. You mentioned most of the staff white teachers are not well. The point I want to bring out of that is that you do have a training program at the Negro Ensemble Company and the basic premise that I have maintained on some hours and that is that we have actually no representative Theatre in this country and that there is no place for an actor really to develop himself totally. I mean there are individual teachers who can teach individual aspects of a craft very well. But does the Negro Ensemble Company have a kind of teaching or
training program that moving in a direction of training an actor totally. Yes it's of course it's in its infant stage in the training program and there are a lot of a lot of directions that we have to move in to really make the training program a comprehensive total training program but we have one of the best voice teachers in the country teaching the company and the apprentice group. We have Lloyd Richards. One of the best acting teachers in the country and very well-known acting teacher. But isn't this the tired blood that you want to remove not from the scene but I mean well this is new to me. Yes. That's right but that's true. Certainly you can gain from that. And they have it to offer.
Well do you feel that the established patterns training patterns that are perpetuated represent sufficient. Futuristic training for what and the type of work you want to do. Well you have to acknowledge the fact that there are certain basic principles involved in the art that you can't get away from voice. You can't get away from training the boys. You can't get away from training the body movement. There's nothing wrong with the established patterns of training the voice is just that there are not enough people who are really competent in their craft who have been training American actors they're really not enough place in institution. Working
situations where the American actor can go to get this kind of training or how he can keep this training along with his working situation through his career the theatre is a kind of form of art where one can never stop working. And we do not have in this country the situation where the American actor can and can work occasionally let it all never stop working. So there's nothing really. That wrong with the if we would only get an established. Form of theatre training. That's one of the basic problems then. As for the other there are there are new methods and techniques coming from the open theatre workshop and I was telling you about the sun coming from Paul Sills in Chicago who works on the premise of theatre gains some coming from Europe from Poland.
Polish theatre some very exciting things. But what is of prime importance is that the American actor not just the negro actor but the American actor period has a place where all of his training can be made available to him. And I think the Negro Ensemble Company is providing they're also providing training for the technical aspect of theatre because there are. Many youngsters who want to know about lighting and even box office work and very important areas for Ensemble Company affords affords that opportunity to many of the youngsters who study who are studying acting and they work. They are also studying lighting and other things that go into making St Marks. The Negro Ensemble Company Theatre work
we have I guess about 15 minutes left and I don't want to try to get in some discussion on the play's upcoming I know you probably are too busy with the current productions to not talk too extensively about it but we should mention the fact that after the summer of the seventeenth Dall going to be doing a play called Kanji's harbors just like they do is that while you say yes yes the Nigerian playwright and then your final play will be by the late Richard Wright. Called Daddy goodness. And of course. The title of that would indicate what kind of time everyone is going to have at that play. Are you currently has it been accepted who's going to direct these and who's going to be in them yet or is this still for four or four
mentoring I should say. We don't know yet because I don't know yet it might have been set right. It's still in the decision making process. Right these are interesting plays and I wonder if the Negro Ensemble Company will continue to utilize foreign playwrights and American Negro playwrights in this sort of pattern over stablished or will you ever be engaged in any of the classics. Those that are older than those that have not been written I mean new plays written with classic themes you know this is the intent. Douglas ward we haven't talked about it. You know but you know we well if you were if you were going to do a production of something do you feel that it would be along the lines of the usual production of Hamlet or quite a story or a job Pat has done.
Oh I just. Well as a director. One of my contentions in the day is. The historic theater the classic theater. It has has a place. In our contemporary scene but one of the things that's wrong with classic it is that everyone looks at it so reverently so they genuflect and you say oh it's Shakespeare so we must. We must move about very elegantly and stiff and round you know and etcetera. And in going for this the thing. A lot of people forget the content and the things that make the classics classic is that they are pertinent
to our lives today as pertinent as they were to the lives of the people. When the play was conceived the major thing I think if we went into the classics the major direction that we would go into is not necessarily PAP's direction which is something of a drone but making the content speak to our theatregoing generation if it would be necessary to sacrifice the form for the sake of the content. I think that's what would happen. All members I know are dedicated individuals. So I want to ask an unfair question because you don't have to answer. This. I was asked this question because it's awkward but Michael showed David.
President cash if you will offered right now a leading role in various capacities and functions that you are currently operating under. On Broadway I would star billing and $2000 a week as your salary would you. And the play was an excellent one. And you believed in the director and you believe in the play Michael what about the part and the part was sufficient. Would you take it would you leave everything at the Negro Ensemble as it is for a while and come back. Or would you under those conditions I would. And David you don't have to answer this question I would think about it because we are very involved but that might have very tempting it's very tempting and to be honest kind of hard really to be honest. That's a loaded question. It's Sure yes. But like I said before getting into the the ensemble company I would give myself a year or
however long this contract was and I had with the ensemble company I give myself that amount of time to really get myself involved with the Negro Ensemble Company and try to find all fall off me. But I want to say that maybe but I'm sure we wouldn't have to have that to make us lean. I hope it wasn't what total involvement and belief in what we were doing. I think some of the actors with the company have been have found also a career beginning blossoming and a reputation established by appearing with the company. You see a number of actors with a company now who are moving out and doing other things but still retaining that link. I mean their connection with the Negro
Ensemble Company will Douglas ward or Robert hooks ever appear or in the productions or write plays for the production. I'm sure Douglas what we writing plays. But what we find in the near future their participation on any level. Well we have one play that I know of which requires a great number of men and I'm sure we would have to twist that you know. Sure they will be in some of the future production of the company at this point. Douglas was far too busy. Organizing the theatre making sure that the foundation is firm for the project to do any writing. But I hope that he will that he will write for the company because he's a very talented playwright
and it would be a shame to have to farm his plays out to the producers when when the company is right there. But you will be seeing them in production. We'll look forward to it one of the things you mention about the wife's play was that play indicated that no masks or makeup should be used and it just took me aback for a moment to the reception of the Negro Ensemble Company performance on the nationally televised production of the public broadcast laboratory on national education coming up. That sort of thing all the time was where they caused quite a reaction with the use of white face as opposed to black face and a sort of a this was not like this was the idea by the way it was considered a joke.
I think at some point that there would be some members of the region in this country that would be consider this. A slap in the face in reverse. They would be they have outlawed blackface I guess and that. Well I think somewhere along the line I think they have this knowing. That my case was a throwback to this kind of thing what. What reaction did the negro arms on the company have to their loved ones very family. Question ridiculous for us to do it in black. I think a lot of critics missed the point of the play as critics are often want to miss the point of just about everything connected with theater. I shouldn't make such a broad generalization but. Speaking of drama critics do you feel that the drama
critics. Have been sensibly kind. I mean they may have written flattering things but I do think they have given a fair report of what's going on at the negro. So I woke up my thought for the most part yes. Yes I think that unlike many situations where you have. Or an all new cast show or etc where they are prone to be a little kinder or a little patronizing or even overly excited because of the exotic qualities. Not a very good thing is it both here. Well our time is up and we want to thank Michael Showalter the director of the current production song The Damien bogey by Peter wise for coming down to tell us about his participation
his viewpoints as well as David downing an actor with the company currently in the production and Rosalind cash currently the song whose opinion but this was seminars in theater. A recorded series of discussions with leading members of the theatrical profession join us again for our next program when host Richard Pyatt will lead another conversation about life in the theater seminars in theatre is produced by radio station WNYC in New York City and is distributed by the national educational radio network.
- Seminars in theatre
- Producing Organization
- WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, the second of two parts, focuses on the Negro Ensemble Company's inaugural production, "Song of the Lusitanian Bogey." Guests are Michael A. Schultz, director; Rosalind Cash, actress; and David Downing, actor.
- Series Description
- A weekly panel discussion series on the theatre scene in New York City, moderated by Richard Pyatt.
- Media type
Host: Pyatt, Richard I., 1935-
Panelist: Downing, David
Panelist: Schultz, Michael A., 1938-
Panelist: Cash, Rosalind
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Song of the Lusitanian Bogey cast, part two,” 1968-01-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 4, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7p8tg03w.
- MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Song of the Lusitanian Bogey cast, part two.” 1968-01-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7p8tg03w>.
- APA: Seminars in theatre; Song of the Lusitanian Bogey cast, part two. 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-500-7p8tg03w