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That it really does. Number one it breaks the tension any tension that we've created as a result of getting people over the head. It immediately breaks the tension and gets involved. It's a device that we actually all through the show. Because the harder they hit them the harder we hit. The more you have to laugh because we want people with. We want people to walk down our street with the reality of the current world as it is. And when we zap it to people it's going to hurt. And some people are going to feel guilty and some people are going to be insulted and all the time we work to the shell to just break down these barriers of communication with which are set up. And this is one of the things that we and you said I have to be reminded of a line from the play that I he has to go down the cellar. I can tell you a bit of a funny line the way it happens right. I'm sure I didn't want to what I'm talking about because I'm taking it out of context.
But in this in this involvement now there are other players running on Broadway maybe on Broadway at this point that involve the audience is very important it seems to involve the audience. We haven't really defined what kind of involvement this is but ostensibly it's an involvement to get the audience through the invisible break. You know the actor and the and the audience that we're all we're all one and you do this also at the end. Should I just say this should I talk about that on here because it was a surprise to me and maybe maybe some people want to be surprised but it's in a review of the area of your life. You you have everyone you invite everyone to come onstage and and dance and then the actors come up and down the aisles shaking hands and moving rather fast at it. I mean you see there's a kind of there's a kind of this is a subtle criticism.
There's a kind of frenetic quality about it that bespeaks a commercial attitude where you don't really feel these actors want you want to shake hands with you. You don't really feel they want to extend emotion or receive emotion. You really get the feeling that they're trying to cover territory and a certain amount of time. I don't say is what is going on. But this is what it looks like. I think if you're sensitive also to this again the concept here's another play. We've had them on here and they do a similar thing. They walk up and down the aisle and ask the audience members will you love me. And I'm one of the persons of the Carol Carol Bruce by the way walked up and asked a woman will you love me. And a woman whispered in her ear.
You've got the wrong person. But what she really what they met afterwards and had a very interesting conversation which made it worthwhile. Now this kind of involvement do you do you achieve what you want to achieve from an audience. It depends on the audience as everything or so many things did I at first objected to the idea of having to shake hands. But as you mean you objected to the idea as as an artist or as a person. Well I'll be honest with you as an artist because I felt that I should be on the stage. But I realized that there are certain things that come into consideration the structure of the theater is obl. and I feel that it is any time that we can get off that stage and go down that center aisle. We're more in touch with the people
and there's an emotional unconscious kind of of a friendship that I think is built up and that is quite necessary in the show. You know it works very well with the with with the finale number extremely well and if we have a particularly good show it gives the people an opportunity to say something to us quite often. Oh very good. However they feel they respond. Yes that's true. I say it does work well. I think the finale is basically psychologically extremely successful. I mean because there's a kind of mass feeling that is generated in terms of rhythm and I think everyone gets really caught up in I mean I think that really comes off and you know I sometimes get laughs and he says it depends on the audience sometimes when we do some numbers that have been proven to be funny numbers or something but sometimes there are people in the audience who are afraid to actually laugh at
things that are quite important. There's one skit especially where one of the boys is supposedly trying to nail down a taxi and because he's negro because he's black the taxi won't stop and I'm not going to say any because I think he give away a lot but it's a very funny skit. And usually people will laugh. I mean they will roar in the audience. But there are some times the audience is there and they're afraid to laugh at something like that because they they really don't know whether you know they know it's happening because it's so obvious. I mean it's happening but they don't know whether people are afraid to laugh at themselves. And I think this finale really you know after we've been hitting them on the head with him and also having them laugh at things and everything. This really breaks down all the tension and it says you know now just don't sit there and look and walk away but involve yourself you know. And he says she's
a statistic and there are many statistics and everything else but they're completely fruitless. They they tell of the problem but nothing happens to fix this problem. So we tell everything that's going on but then we also invite you know how about getting into it you know. And so we first shake hands with the people and then say Well come on up and dance you know. And they really want to. It's so surprising. Sometimes as an artist I guess in every field when when the audience doesn't respond the way we think they should we feel very more. You know and we're backstage saying I wonder why they didn't laugh or why didn't they applaud or things like that. We wonder you know what is it them. You know but it's because people are afraid sometimes. So the last thing really changed everything then we know at the end that the final number we know that we did what
we were supposed to we got our point through because there there's still respond to many quick very fleshlight vignettes which are very very funny and you can't really talk about them without sort of giving surprises away but there's some I don't know how some of them you can you can sort of guess how you arrived at it but some of them are completely unimaginable and how you arrived at it. I mean and they're really very very funny. There's one one I just mentioned one I think because I don't think this would give away anything but there is this ironic turn where the white girl is talking to the negro and she says why. He says I love you. And she says why don't you love me. Because we've done all this to you we've kept you in slavery for 100 years and we've done this to you and we've done that to you and we've done this to you. And the reaction is it is worth going to see it and see what the reaction is to it.
But if you if you would all of you are tremendously emotionally involved in this and I assume intellectually involved in it with this intellectual involvement where do you think the possibilities rest for you to develop your talents because obviously you want to do something better and something something larger and something dimensionally larger I simply mean it that way. What are the opportunities for training. I often talk about I get a number of viewpoints. I had a cast from the mom from the misbegotten view point by an actor there was that an actor can get can do what he wants to do if he wants to do it which is a kind of rugged philosophy but it only works all the time. Where can you get.
Do you feel that there are avenues open where you can develop the ability to fine tune. In other words that you can really train in other ways Denise said at this point I would I mean to to risk saying whatever I say because all of these opinions here. Is really very very beautiful instrument. I mean and where is she. She says she's going to 100 college a drama department at a hundred college may be fun but we don't know that it is fun because we don't see anything coming out of the colleges for the most part that have drama departments that are really not geared to it. I think country is an exception. There are two people in here from 110 is a girl and Tom Paine from hunting I'm doing locked down my street and I think there's another boy that was
called back MacHale bubble or he may or may not have been the obviously we're talking about the level of theatre that has really nothing to do with the fact that two people from Hunter are in here because here has nothing to do really with. Let me rephrase that. Here is successful for us I think very interesting reasons not a lot. And I have not seen it so I really don't. We thought we're talking about here. And as we get back to this very prevalent technique that is being used currently in multiple media affects I mean I think this is one way I think this is a sellout to the theater because if you can't entice and hold an audience with the material the next best thing is to bombard their senses so that they can constantly respond in a sensory way. And as long as you constantly respond in a
sensory way you're not bored. So the big problem in theater is not to bore people. The truth is you want to say I want to go back to your first. Yeah I want to go back to your first question. Yeah. Where do we go from here really how can we develop and continue to do better work. Let me let me state that. Some of the best work that I've seen has come out of standard companies like La Mama which is Tom Morgan has been able to work. How many was it 50 plays. He's done a Lamont to 52. He has to have that. He has to fail. He has to work. Let's take another resident company the Lester Horton Dance Theater in California out of which came Alvin Ailey carved into lava. Joyce Tressler James true. And people have to remember these just again just going forever. And I want to throw up your thought that song and a lot of the Alvin Ailey and a few of his other names have been dancing now for 15 years.
But where did they start. They were they start in with this is this is really germane to what we're talking about the city. Yeah. Let me finish with this Lester Horton took these young people as kids just like Norman and I are working with next stages and gave him a scholarship program and he took he saw that they had the best of training and music lessons and drama lessons and food to eat and a place to live. And by the time they were 18 or 19 they were professional professionals in the pure sense of the word. This is what you call it training a horse with it you get the thing going. And let's talk about our ballet schools where you have a whole system of training where the scholarship program for the Arctic where they can take. They go through out the system. And it's significant that and where you have. Artists emerging You also you have scattered ones but most of them I would say have had this kind of supportive background behind them.
And at this point we're pretty much locked out. The artist is locked out economically because let's say a musical artist is a good person and he has to have top dance training top vocal training camp drama training all of which cost a small fortune just to get him to the point that he can really start competing for a job he can't afford it just hit a point by the way that think Duncan made on a show going in connection with the recent strike Actors Equity was on strike and everyone knows that. But the fact that one of the top producers that most of these people are simply 17 year old girls are 17 to 19 year old girls and they don't have the responsibility. But actually he did neglect to mention this fact that you just mentioned that is singing singing lessons dancing lessons all these things cost an arm and a leg which again I interrupted you.
But I want to bring that out. And you're saying that out of all of this kind of structure talent will develop and evolve. Is that what you're saying. Yes. The talent that does develop and evolve is an enduring talent not only an enduring but a top notch talent. How does it evolve. Like some kind of self perpetuating organism or I mean does it. Is it nurtured in any way. Orchard I see it nurture and who's doing the nurturing in this case and well the people that sponsors that sponsor these organizations like Rebecca Harkness they are nurturing programs. Also they have a professional program. They also have the scholarship program and it's just a full training. It's interesting because you know if you hadn't told me earlier what your work was at school I would say your dance oriented anyway what
about what about the other. I think there are a number of programs scholarship programs for Dan. And for music. But I think it seems to be far and few between where you have this kind of organized help for playwrights and actors because the actor is a peculiar animal. He does need a lot of training. If he's going to do anything and the point of view of young persons involved in the theater like yourself is very interesting because as I say this is where everything is happening. The most viable theater and I have to say so is off Broadway and even off off-Broadway which is questionable but the where you can not be bored. I think I have a very simple thing about theater really.
And it starts off simple but but it has its complications is that I just don't want to be bored in theater. Now that may not bore me or what for me may not bore anyone else and we have that problem. I mean how do you please everybody and do the right thing by the. How do you do you as a new director as Patricia and Norman in writing the music for it and producing it. Did you sit back and at all think about the fact that you wanted to not bore the audience. Well of course I mean that's what you were very much concerned with the the audience response. I mean we're not indifferent to audience response and we're not disillusioned about audiences either. And of course we don't want a boy audience.
I know it sounds like an overly simple question but what I meant by that was that in your review by the way you know the first part and the second part is not that far apart. There is a kind of repetition. And to a great degree it's repetition with variation. And but to a smaller degree it almost seems like you're watching the first part. Do you get any criticisms in this regard. No I haven't. When you what makes you review so difficult. Yeah. I was a we were a little questionable about the one of the songs and we had two songs that relate to school. One of the first and one second we were until we had a second one stage away stage. Now we were quite uncertain about it but we feel it works. We feel it has proved itself in theater and the actual show.
Let me ask you a question are you would you say that some of you are young enough that I could ask the question do you think there is such a thing as a generation gap. Denise you look young enough. Yes I do. Thank you very much guys. Particularly for young people from 18 to 20 who are 18 to 20 during the 1960s. Would you like to answer. Yes. The reason I'm asking is because the type of theater that evolves out of your mind is springs from what you experience really and not what you hope to experience so much. And I wonder what the reaction what kind what is this thing called Generation gap. What is what does it to you. Does it mean that there is someone that does not understand what you're
talking about because they see things from 50 miles further away than you see them. Well personally I don't feel the generation gap as much as I may have maybe four years ago. But getting older but there is a definite there's a definite generation getting ready the night. We just want to go out and I'm really trying to get to it that apparently we understand the difficulties in our society right now. Among other reasons springs from this lack of communicative rapport between the young and the old and the consequences and involve themselves in politics in art and in sociology and in many many areas. And what do you feel create this gap. Well I think sometimes it is I don't know if it's a lack of understanding but it's a lack
of wanting to understand it. Like you mentioned the art you know that many many of the older people get old see new art PCD the abstract thing and just push it off as it couldn't be art you know because they remember what the masterpieces are or whatever you know and it's it's just a thing of I won't allow a new thing to come in. You know the old thing is fine. You know sometimes it just seems that way like what's wrong with the old music. I mean what's wrong with the Gershwin pieces or something. Why why do we need Curtis pieces you know. I mean is it a chronological gap or is it really. I think it's a real gap. I think my parents and people that have my peers come from two different worlds we can expect one can
expect that I would respond to life the same way my parents ever have because they've gone through the Depression because they've gone through a war because they have gone through immigration to this country. It's just it's just a different world entirely. The parents that make the make the change and have the willingness and willingness to understand that young people are so much better. But there is. The reason is that we've been born into a land of plenty and we don't and we don't miss certain things. We expect certain things you know to me yeah we're blamed I think for say if we are feeling that why don't we have this or something. In other words parents or something will say well it was hotter in our time or something. But OK it was harder but we weren't born into that into those hard times we were born into a better time. But is not a depression. I mean sometimes my parents tell me
you know they remember when depression or whatever. OK so it's a nice historical fact I had to learn it for history class anyway in college in high school. You don't mind them because you know you can't blame them though. Right. I don't know that they couldn't. They really can't blame us for we cannot assimilate with the depression days or birth world war two days or whatever or Korea then see. The idea is that most people over 30 will not like here or will not like them although I will say about of walked on my street. There's nothing really avant garde about it at all. No not at all. You really will like it. I say. Do you think they might disagree with maybe a point or two said that they won't. Not on the general aspect for a minute or two about that. Yes there is a difference there's a distinct difference seen in walk down the street in
New York compared to Fox or air or any of the current things. I think more than likely because it comes out of a minority group it's a minority group expression that's still tied up with tradition. And we have not broken down. To the point that we can parade on stage with no clothes on because we're still fighting this thing of being accepted back into the public domain which is a different scene. That would be an interesting statement. It will be the next black people say to us in anyway so it might be you know wildly interesting that is at an interesting and important point that you make about this group walked on my street group because you're really not. You're still with almost a conventional frame of reference. You're making your point within that frame of a minute or two.
I mean about the stage in the sets and the resources within which you are working. I there's Congratulations do because I think with no set really utilize the stage quite nicely I mean with backdrops in it and it keeps it moving and it keeps you do very well with that because I think if you didn't do as well it would be damaging somewhat with the limitations in terms of you know there's no set it all depends on the really on the performers right. I think it would be kind of detrimental if we didn't have any kind of real sense or something because it just seems that all the points in the show are tied in by one theme sort of. But they're you know they have they're different and this set is kind of like when a thing like that doesn't really add anything but it gives an idea of what we're saying or whatever but if it if it were any more significant than it
is it would take away from the performance I mean worked on my I see there's a lot of fun. I think it would be detrimental for me to continue since I've run out of time and I want to thank the belief that a pair of Freddie Diaz Norman Patricia Curtis producers of the next stage of companies walk down my street. This was seminars in theater. I recorded a series of discussions with leading members of the theatrical profession. Join us again for our next program when host Richard Piatt will lead another conversation about life in the theater seminars and theater 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 31 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.: Next Stage Theatre Company and cast from "Walk Down My Street." Norman Curtis and Patricia Curtis; Denise Dellapenna; Faye Diaz.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-31 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:26:47
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Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 31 of 31,” 1968-08-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 1, 2024,
MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 31 of 31.” 1968-08-06. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 1, 2024. <>.
APA: Seminars in theatre; Episode 31 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