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I don't think so because I don't. I guess I don't have too much concern with my image as a police officer. I never thought too much about it or thought about projecting what I did in my work. Use investigation which I enjoy very much. I am working with people I'm with. It was problems and I think if I tend in a direction. To gain a better understanding of people and their problems and the possible solutions that can be offered for them and somehow in doing their clout in the detective story again it was the same kind of thing it was gaining further understanding. Of someone who would not have to be so dissimilar from myself except in certain experiences that she had and certainly know what I'm saying is that.
The qualities in that role I did not feel were so strange to myself I found a great deal of sympathy and understanding for her as a woman as a human being. Therefore I wasn't in too much conflict. Had you ever acted prior to the detective story in last year's production of the birds. I was a prophetess and the author of several but that was a very large role in your career had you been on the stage or had an interest in acting. John when I was very young about five or six years old. Ok I've decided I have a good voice. They were always pushing stage to recite poetry. By the time I got into high school
I had developed a terrible case of stage fright the first time that I had ever. Attempted to overcome it was present because. I think that was part of my thinking. I knew despite the fact I was a little bit afraid of it I was also quite ruined. I think we all what happens when you get this offer from Herman Sherman to appear on Broadway or television. Are you going to take the offer of some guy as acting talent is better than a lot on television and it's not unlikely that you could get an offer take it or would you stay where you are. Well I think I've accomplished quite a bit in the police department.
I've always enjoyed police work and I think I enjoyed doing the play. I don't think I'd have any reservations again about doing it. But to me it helped me as a person but it's it's an avocation not a vocation. My vocation is police work. And I think something that in the cloud what I found so hard about it was playing somebody quite contrary you know a lot of people said cops playing cops but it's not that easy. It's not you you're not in a crowd you're not Callahan you're not the lieutenant Monaghan you're not this person and you've got to play him. But what it means to him and it does take quite a bit of serious concentration for consistency of character and this professor to mean told us when we started we thought this would be easy. He told us now you're dealing with a play that's relisten a slice of life.
And if you're going to make it live that has to be that moment to moment. You can't have a pause in between you've got to be consistent in your character and it was so much involved in it that I really did get quite a bit out of it. I could understand that also. Most of you certainly are not attending John Jay when you come back and do this out of love apparently. Well I don't know I'd be attending John Jay except I do so with the drama course I get interested in English and I took a test and got a scholarship. You were majoring in English now and due to the having been introduced to drama here I was in a play with the kids over there like you and it was a lot of fun and I thought though giving given the physical set up that they have an ally you would have a speech that image of you comparing that to the John Jay or the Tory in a police academy where there are no facilities productions being put on by the drama tours which is the acting group of
the John Jay school is absolutely fantastic. Well worth seeing and well worth being a part of that really brings me to the production itself and the set that you had was quite quite extensive as to me. First of all do you have a budget whereby you can get this kind of a read like that. Well we have a budget that amounts to about fifteen hundred dollars but now that we have to rent a lighting board because there are no lights we have a professional designer one of my own I have a as a leverage. Yes. And as a matter of fact Bill and I with together before 10:00 the brick went down to the fifth precinct and we had a long discussion with them and it seemed that 20 years ago there was another long discussion about detective story and it was the can the producing company of
Sidney Kingsley show so that we sort of had done the same thing 20 years later and it was interesting that that we came up with a different point of view because now we're looking at it from 20 years because you can if you see the pictures of the original version and so on there are a lot of changes and yet most of this has come from. Actually experiencing and dealing with the location itself and I think that Bill is extremely talented he did in The Byrds last year as well and has I think he has a lot to offer from the production itself. Everyone that is connected with the production members of John Jay or do you have this odd side I mean I know your production staff is quite large. Are these individuals connected with the college the set designer and the lighting designers.
Not as I said before the reason for that is that the set that we have no lights really to speak of and we have to bring in lights. We have no curtains. And so we need to have. People that you know these are these are professionals they're professionals who are in the trade you know and so forth. So you had two outside people as far as production right and all the rest were people who were in the college one way or another. Right. Doesn't general last year we did have a guest here a sturdy came in as the guest actor. And there were other times and we may bring in a guest in one way or another but we were going to say how long I was going to put on one production a year. Right. And how long do you usually have for rehearsals. I have about six weeks but this is sort of deceptive because six weeks is divided by three men who work around the clock that is their eight hour shifts which means that we have about two thirds of the group available for rehearsal
each time. Yes that's what I mean you have a large cast here and the detective story and I really wondered how you could get them all together at the same time without worrying about schedules or someone having to be there you know you can't. It is your chance what you have to do if you have to take a tremendous amount of planning in terms of people being on the same calendar. For example if you know that two men are on the same calendar then you will find that scene that has two people involved in it so that your casting is not only limited by the number of people that try out but also limited to a certain extent by their calendars so that it becomes a little bit more feasible a little bit more possible. We don't have the entire group as a matter fact we usually don't have the entire group until the dress rehearsal week. And even with that many of the men give their vacation time and a great deal more time than is
generally required knowledge but I think that you can say that you can just on the basis of who shows up first or inability or how do you go about casting for these players. Well that's a very interesting question. Most of the comments that have been made about the shows in the past is that everyone was so beautifully cast and so I think there must be some kind of consideration for people who bring their intuitive qualities. Go to the park. Yeah and I think but I think that it's not just a simple as that it's not just a question of picking the best man. It's also a question of being able to come to terms with all of the problems that will make the ultimately the best show. Professor Robert do you find that this play in the detective story after many years
and being done today has a very persistent relevancy to our times. I think it has a remarkable relevancy. My first feeling about it was that it would be outdated and would be something of a boy because after all it is a slice of life it is a realistic naturalistic play and some of its elements are quite pedestrian. I think that the Macleods fixation has the quality of Captain I have all the hero in O'Neill's AIOE. But beyond that. That quest the play itself has a great many pedestrian elevators so I was sort of doubtful as to its stage validity after 20 years and I was very surprisingly surprised because I think it held up remarkably well
in terms of sociological impact and dramatic growth and the only thing that bothered me was that I had to admit that I had seen it 20 years ago and that had meant that you know looking back and realizing that I was alive 20 years ago I preferred not to think about it and I think as a matter of fact I make that as a rather flip point. But actually this had a certain value for members of the audience. This element of really discovery not only of the play but of a period they themselves had passed through so that they were reliving of the immediate past your connection in theater and your training. Are you ever frustrated by the productions John terribly. I want to scratch Professor turnings I guess I'll get up on that stage and do all the directing. My very human reaction to several of my public
faces all kind of tangential matters that you never let her get involved with. Just show the finished product. Do you ever get yourself involved in active way as a driver either as an actress or some of the productions or co-directing are somewhat invitations from Professor terming to act but I have within my dignity and it's not at the John Jay College not that acting is not dignified but and your image you're concerned about 7:15 and I but yeah you know it's dignity is really isn't the word I think it's just plain time when all the effort you know being competitive demands on my time I just don't see the space to have a secret wish that someday I am going to be a heroine a professor to me.
Play which player you have in mind has to be ready back then. I don't have a Mac but where do you think you're doing Shakespeare or any of the Greek classics. Why not other than in the classic. I think that the number of I think a fellow Coriolanus Merchant of Venice. There are a number of the Shakespearean plays that I thought about and I don't know whether we're going to get to right away. You know what your next production is or have you taken a vote on that yet. No and I won't know actually until I meet the new class and so forth. But we do have. I often throw things out. One of the places I've been trying out for the past three years and may sooner or later become ONE WILL BE think it's kind of. And you notice the relevancy of that in the book. You know out of our conversation there is a there is one theme that repeats itself with variety and that is
the students that have acted in these productions of John Jay have in some way or other than individual he enriched by the experience or the experience has led them into self realization in one way or another about about themselves and moving into other areas of activity. And this in turn has enriched some of the individuals that they have come into contact with. For example Mr. Powers NLI you and I'm in this. This infusion of what you apparently received from John Jay the involvement there has been a good a good thing. And in this connection we mentioned that the techniques of drama are being used by social groups psychologists lay analysts or what have you. And even by individuals who want to derive whatever they can out of
working on in their involvement would you say that this is where really our most of our disciplines should go and take direction from the techniques of the theater. Well there's no question about it. My answer to that would be in the affirmative. Yeah I've said all along that. Even with the theater of the absurd what they're trying to get had is a direct line of communication a direct way to and by direct I mean you know the idea of throwing language out the window an inconsistent thing in characterization and so on but somehow coming into contact with your fellow man and saying I AM YOU ARE WE ARE YOU know it really is that kind of thing so if it's an attempt to get to the humanistic values which I
think have too long been. Thrown aside a bit too often where some are so concerned about scientific Objectivists take approaches to things we say first in order to let's see the facts and so forth. Well the judge or the jury the jury brings in the humanistic element that's the point. And yet even though in our court systems to a certain extent they are aware of this. I think in our society we're not. I think that the we don't realize that we were human beings before we were scientists those who like conservatives. I think it's important to define humanism in this context. I think Professor Tremaine is talking in terms of academic humanism and not in terms of the leggy use of it the popular misconception of it as a form of kind of mawkish sentimentality. We are so human because we love our fellow man and we want to play a part with everybody down the street and so forth. It's
not that at all. It's stressing the emotional value and the imaginative value and the value that relates to in our man. In contradistinction to the merely objective values of a scientific society as important as those objective values are. If the car notation of life rather than the denotation of life and that is the raise on debt or of a department of humanity is in a colony which is concerned in it. Ultimate concern with the broad aspects of Criminal Justice and in direct implementation of let's say this philosophical idea for this theory. What is I think what we are really in this academic context of humanistic approach. What I think the first to mean who is indicating that our concern is should move more into motivation rather than the sort of. Just object of throwing out of
information I think that through. You could spend half a term in motivating in simply motivating and there's a kind of subliminal amount of knowledge that comes through in the motivating period but if you did then you could spend the other half probably giving more information that would be totally absorbed in and a much more effective way and I think this is basically what's wrong with theatre basically what's wrong with our educational institutions at large colleges high schools where there really is this human factor is overlooked and information is just laid on. And I think this is why the techniques of drama can be and usually are very effective. As a matter of fact there was a proposal which may may come up very soon I mean in a kind of pragmatic way of taking educators teachers what have you and teaching them. The dramatic techniques by which they can
play the role that they are in life in other words we would teach a policeman how to be how to act like a policeman or a teacher how to act like a teacher or a president how to act like a president. I mean these are roles that they play but with the use of dramatic techniques you can teach them how to be what to act the role out to members of our faculty and just on a very interesting study of the role of the judge and the role playing of the judge and I have analyzed I think about seven or eight different categories in which the judge care which roles he might assume that Dean Alexander Smith professor Abraham Blumberg trans. gave it a very interesting review. Well its an interesting and exciting study an exciting direction. Speaking of roving is something else I want to ask retired Bergen resident. When you're. Playing roles and words were You obviously did not have a long training background and how did. Produce emotional conditions in
states when you have to arrive at a very intense emotional level on stage. For example the cloud gets angry very often and hysterical even at one point. And so does Mrs. Macleod. What method or how do you feel physically and emotionally at the time you're trying to produce these particular emotional state. As time goes on I think in the beginning when you're reading the script if you do a frost reading even after that when you start acting out you think it's impossible to ever begin to feel as the individual feels in life but I found as time went on that I was very involved in the character I was portraying and quite caught up with it and in a sense it was almost like watching yourself because
you want it wasn't you that was doing it you were involved in your part of you was watching the scene as it went. I know after. I think every time I would bark a stage and started to yell it scared me I reacted I could feel my stomach tighten up I have no real method. It wasn't something that was deliberate it was a reaction to what was going on. Almost without exception in terrible rehearsal tonight I found myself sort of shaken I just that's an interesting comment on his resume and to me Do you find that this is the distinction between the professional and the nonprofessional in that the professional tries not to.
I say I'm just speaking of one school here that tries not to experience these real feelings because of the has to do it every night. Miss Brettan would probably be at the end of her tether if you had to do this for weeks if you was going to experience this real fear and this whole nervous system was going to take this kind of jolt every every night. So I think we're in an area here that is very big. I think that whether you feel it whether it's a real emotion that you feel or whether it's a. I'm the medic emotion that you feel over whatever word you want to use. I think it's all a question of the way individuals are relating to each other that is whatever they say now. It's a very it may be totally totally possible that one person will say I do not feel this role and the other person will say I am feeling it and both have about the same degree of involvement in the in the particular emotion that is being expressed. I think of it you can get as many
professionals to say that they have to experience it. For example I remember a quote from Catherine Cornell years ago. She said that working on a play is like going on a ski trip that you don't really start to experience it until you get on until really the opening night with an audience then you get aboard the ship and you travel and you literally experience it as you do it. Do you tell your students too that they should feel it or they shouldn't feel it. I don't know that I think that that is a an area that is an unnecessary in any way in any context I think waste a lot of time whether you feel it or whether you shouldn't feel it. What we do is we talk about the needs of the characters the realities that they have to deal with and so on. And as they deal with these things like anger and fear and so on our interstates they are the result of
action. They are not things that you work for if you do as a matter of fact this is what makes you a ham actor. Well it is a question of working for the two. Working with your inner self to feel anger. The question is once the reality is determined ones the needs are determined. We need some method of a technique to demonstrate to someone watching us that we are feeling this or that. So as you know most of the schools are acting schools here in New York deliberately insist that their teaching that the actor must feel these men are emotional states before it's convincing. Whereas I think you know many people know that many actors demonstrate or really act these days and never feel it but they're just as convincing. Kind of an untapped. Pool.
That we don't own you. When we do use it as you claim you're not necessarily tapping me a motion to say that might be the biggest point you're not cool but you're kind of taking from this well and expressing yourself as required. Unfortunately this president on such a provocative set is because that really would lead us into another hour we already only have another 10 I recollected in tranquillity I want to thank all of you. Professor Venter mean Professor Farida Schreiber and Edward powers and Captain Harry Blum unstained policewoman at the Breslin and Lieutenant Robert Byrd from the John Jay College for joining us on another seminars and 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.
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Seminars in theatre
Episode Number
Episode 30 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.: A discussion of the play "Detective" with members of the New York City Police Department and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Prof. Ben Turmine; Prof. Flora Rita Schreiber; Edward P. Powers
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-30 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:11
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