thumbnail of Seminars in theatre; Episode 13 of 31
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Now good. There you go frightening it is frightening and not all actors would be willing to do this and I think I think Ed's attitude covers it a little out of the fact that as the nature of his work and I think too if you get a group together where you work and then the attitude in the group itself like our attitude was all a very free open giving you know we were discussing the play together it was a growing process that we were all working together on and you feel and you know and people were it was a mutual thing that gave people a sense that everybody was involved in it had that support of the job that I would understand them knowing how it's different if you were preparing us for not a Monday night but if you were preparing to open up circumscribe here and you were in rehearsals how would we do it would be a different approach. Well slightly because you'd have four weeks of regular rehearsal you wouldn't we had much freer discussions we had more open delving into the script where we were different people were contributing things and everyone's time was gratis of them. So it was the kind of
thing that had to be made enjoyable and meaningful and that the actor was learning for himself things about the nature of the playwright. If you were hiring people you would govern the time very strictly and decide what is necessary and anything that seems unnecessary because an actor might want to delve into it. You might not feel you had the time for him you know so there are a lot of things I think the actors get and you know actually this is not a situation where if it were a paid rehearsal They wouldn't you wouldn't be able to anwer is the word no. And it's artistic progress as far as the acting and the directing is concerned I know is the second Monday of this production. Well the first two weeks say we had worked off I mean we were not working on a regular schedule and as we met late at night sometimes we met for a while in the mornings and then the afternoon Gladys had to call a lot of people. It's right now a telephone now right.
No there's not a lot but we did a lot of ground work before last Monday so I think some of what you found exciting came from the fact that people did know mutually a lot about you know there was a an entire attitude toward the play and we did it so that this groundwork. I think this week has begun to pay off much more limited than it did last week. You saw it beginning to blossom I'd say the blossom is a little more open. Well not when will you start work on before night come or have used article. Well I'm not going to go on. Well that play or whatever the next play and hope to start sometime during Monday probably will that really the next play for night. It's the well it's the next one we spoke openly about when you're really into it and why have you picked this one I mean what is interesting about it. Well showed me the play you want to say which is well
it's I fight with my year David Wright going as a British writer young writer and this was done in England about two three years ago I thought I find it a fascinating play that extremely well written and the but a very difficult play to do. It's all male cast. Now there is two women yes. It's a and it's a north north country. Pull it once and nothing no country playing. And it's the kind of play that needs I feel a period of work you know to do realize and I think it's another I mean in its own way for different reasons similar to Bracton that you just can't knock it off and you know open it in four weeks so that I think it would be an enormous benefit to go out as the potential director of IT to have the opportunity to work on it and for those actors that we would hope would be become part of it
is that those three are going to do act but when I play and I see hear the rhythm of the Royal Shakespeare Company there's knowing and by the way they're doing another player who's now dead and reckons which is 7 1/2 hours long. This is this play deal as one of the things in the play is the way in which violence can erupt in circumstances that there it's it takes place among some 900 workers that come in to pick fruit in an orchard and their own hostilities in the things that they're lacking in their lives how suddenly it gets together through the play and take itself out on a total stranger. I saw it and it it's an interesting way of the way we're going to get on some of the other programs that we've been doing concerning circling the square we've been talking about its history even talking about some of the concepts and some of the premises upon which this put the circle in the square exist.
And Ted Mann has more or less summed it up. Kind of philosophical statement that it's pragmatic. I mean I'd paraphrased him but the degree of reality and pragmatism involved in circle in a square and I wanted to inject at this moment another question concerning some of those matters that we've been talking about such as the training of an actor the opportunity for training. The approach to why we have you here we can ask you about the approach to directing actors in Shakespeare because you've been so successful with these productions in the New York Shakespeare Festival. Do you find you're limited that you are limited as a director by the lack of actors American actors who can handle so-called quote classics. All of this at this moment that's a very electric sometimes no no
no you're not. You know one of the things that I feel is that right once it came usually when you had time to work and actors who were committed I feel for instance with our fellow production that we really brought together with the concept the idea the exploration of the play the work that the actors did a production that was extremely moving and many people who saw that production have said that it was you know have seen a great deal of Shakespear said it was one of the most during production that they have seen actually several critics who saw both the Olivier production and the one that we did. Very openly in the press compared them and they were very favorable to MARGARET I mean of course and it's always a little interesting how those things fall by the wayside when when a discussion then is it comes up and about the American actor the English actor. No one ever recalls.
There are however or some people who have been in the press it's just completely ignored that there was a time that there have been productions in which American actors have not fared badly at all in fact that I've had English people who saw both of those productions who felt that you know that they were deeply stirred moved. It's always a matter of what you prefer to do in the theater what strikes you what moves you. And there's a great difference in that. But I myself feel that there is a capacity that the American actor has. Of you know reaching down into a deep commitment it's not easy and it's hard work but there's a sense of truth and a sense of reality that he can combine with work that you see I think that you can move you from an emotional source I believe that you can find the heightened thing that is in Shakespeare. And it can be released that combines the lyricism because very frequently when an individual is excited or stirred or moved by something that's very
deep in his being an American can be as poetic in his personal expression as an Englishman can be. We tend as a group of people to be inhibited about speech we tend to be reluctant to articulate our ideas. And it's a problem I think for us to reach out toward the expression of our feelings. Do you find this that has to be opened up in the in the American actor but I think that when we work at it that it isn't possible. And several actors I worked with over a period of time I feel have really been opening this up for themselves more and more and more with the as the work continues. So that that when and then when that happens it is not it has a depth to it and that. And I'm afraid I feel that many of the English things frequently have a more theatrical superficial surface to it.
I have you know this is a ever recurring problem. Yeah I had Richard ask Bob really hard when they were here with the Bristol Old Vic and I thought he would have had them and passing the training practices they use in England that we use here and opportunities etc.. And of course they say that they have a great deal to learn from us and at the same time they say that they indicate we have a great deal to learn from them which I think there is some may as well but I tell you that one of the things interesting things about the English is they feel quite free. Perfectly willing to do American plays in American productions with the entire English cast in this direction and it doesn't cross their minds to invite or maybe occasionally it does but by and large they feel they are not intimidated about taking some of our fine American plays and doing them with it you know and for us we would feel that
they were falling as short as they may feel. And there is a kind of inverted. Attitude I think that Americans are beginning to have when we feel intimidated and feel that we can't drive you know we're very frightened and there's no other country that have that attitude. If they can do the work it's because they take a chance and they don't give all their opportunities away to other people. There's I think Martin has been made a very good point pertaining to this is in the last weeks at times when he said that we never see any of the bombs that are produced weekly over in England I was in a few of them brought over here but I don't mourn as we only get from what has been a sort of filter thing the best production and that's when generally public use is I think that's a good point to take into consideration when we are talking about it. But as you mention such varied things as opening up the actor you mentioned when it happens. What if I may
ask you and you may not be able or want to answer. What do you what are you talking about. I mean when you when it's difficult to explain and I worked in classes were so that it's one have to do be involved in the work process to Maffei this. But the American actor I think it has been trained in many techniques of touching off a reality inside himself and a truth. Now the truth of Shakespeare. You know the passions are deep and almost all of the circumstances of the play are involved with moments of crisis and Shakespeare's characters have this for not you know because of Shakespeare himself writing the characters. They have this ability to open themselves up and x articulate what the passion is that is is happening inside what the feeling is. They put it into a verbal expression where an American playwright for instance more is much more frequently involved with the with the with the fact that the
that the individual is hiding what he feels and is covering it up and is backing off from areas there to be quite verbal. Yes yes. And so that when I worked with on this problem it's to get the actors to enjoy and to be willing to allow himself to be open and go to the material. And you see Shakespeare doesn't really trust the actor all that much he marks it down he has one thing you know you see all the moments of transition and Shakespeare's speeches he gives you everything. And if you bring yourself open that to that end then enjoy the verbal expression of it which is a new experience for the American actor he has to learn to do that. He has to. Experience the very use of the verbal phrases as a way to get you know to open his heart. Is there advice that into madness.
Well I work it out in productions I you know I teach classes the circle the number of people or I do in fact one of the interesting things is a number of actors have been in that it said that it's affected their lives. There was one girl who said as she was working on it that she had never she discovered that she had never been spontaneous in the life that she always thought to herself what she was going to say before she spoke. And we were just working on a spontaneous justification of things where you immediately could go out and and see something and have an attitude toward it in and talk about it and express it where you're open to the idea of the member about your ideas. And she said the whole work in the class had made her realize that she was very guarded in her own life and she had it and it made her open that much more in her own life and allowed herself to enjoy a circle in the square has come full circle with all of of these enterprises and act the activity the meaningful activity that seems to comprise are going to square this is the first
production of A very first act. Well I got a couple I only have 30 for non-production and seem looks like is going to be playing a bit longer. Would you say so. I would hope so. And yes I have you thought about the next production. Yes I'm thinking about that all the time. Can you talk about that I don't know. It's one of the things that we're thinking about is of course the bricks drums of the night and there are several other plays that we are considering the moment but I mean I can't say which from our long I would say there were about 10 different things we're thinking about. And by the way that is will you be directing in the New York Shakespeare Festival going plays this season. No I'm not going to be we ever do any Shakespeare in circle in the square.
Well we did and of course Gladys fellow was your experience. I know. Circle in the square. I was under the auspices of here on the square. I think the circle is admirably suited to a Shakespearean production and very much in that he has a similar style to the globe and that the audiences on three sides of the performance when we did it the Martinique which is similar to a circle that work very well. The intimacy of the theatre work seems to work very well for that. I would hope to do Shakespeare one of my favorite players Gladys Knight talk how this is Romeo and Juliet and something to that. Did you see the Brits do you don't know anything. As an actor do you like working physically circle in the square. You know a very much Marcus theatre. Where do you find I mean that it's no it's sort of I guess you would call it not completely new.
You're in the wrong but I would you describe that to let ad where you were what would you call it a semi-random. Like last time the audience on three sides are leaving. Do you find this. This is just a question again it's an I question but do you find as an actor you are artificially moved by the fact that you've got to keep moving away from certain segments of the audience because if you stay in one position too long you're going to have your back to one segment of the audience a great deal of the time you find in JAX a kind of superficial physicality. No no not for me I'm really not worried about that in this in the work we're doing here. You know as we say it's a work in progress and I mean generally in theatre of this kind or will it surprise you know it's a it's a problem yes but not not a serious one. I think that a person's face conveys an
emotion and as well that back conveys just as much I don't you know one should never be aware of the fact that the actor might be moving so that all segments of the audience can see his emotions impossible for. They must perceive as they do in life. In a conversation or a living room you know you don't hear you don't necessarily even see your mother when she talks to you but you understand completely what she's saying. You may she may not even say a word but by her right there is an artifice that actors in mind think they have. Sometimes my singing you know I look at their faces there will be a foot apart. But I think would be nicer and I'm less than realistic if we didn't admit to the fact that there are certain moments in a play actor has certain reactions that are very meaningful to the audience. Yeah we want to see it. But they I mean not not everybody in the audience can see or will see even in a proceeding of everything I mean for one thing a person in the
distance is much greater one chooses to see that which is which is of interest to them and which is moving them emotionally and intellectually and also if you see the person who they're speaking to you know the response of the other person's face I mean it is interesting. Tellingly right yeah. Dramatic Morris on a graphic. The we have about five minutes left and I want to sum up what we've been doing here for the past three weeks talking about Circle where I want to thank you for bringing members of your your organization down for talking so candidly about what you do and all of the people that you brought who talk just as candidly and I hope I have. You have been candid question. I also don't I just wanted to reiterate the activities of circle and square now you know you're in your thirty third production and you have the school there which has been in
existence for over five years I know. Do you expect you expand the training facet of zircon is going yes I mean where we are constantly trying to bring in to the school. First of all a better level of student you know more professional level and as the teaching faculty has been improving the level of student has also improved. We try to incorporate the students as much as possible in if not the actual production and interest in the production so that. Hopefully the school or the school has been a steady growth of the audience it's inception. And I think I'm quite sure that as it as it continues and as its worth becomes more and more known people like Gladys teaching there and Nikos Sachar opposite its student body will increase in its multitude of classes you know there are so many different courses that are taught now there's almost
something for everybody anybody interested in the theater you're going to graded a number of things into a circle a square training acting music politics and I say that because it seems that you're planning a series now of political spin yes we are and we're not speeches political Simonize on not contemporary subjects and latter part of April we're going to do one on Vietnam with Ed and one of the people I don't participate on in that summer I will be author Sebastian Junger will this be open to the public again in turn. And by that I mean there will be admission. Yes I've been in Manhattan for three dollars and two dollars but the point the purpose of the seminar I was that. I have felt and cost of talking to various people of non theater people that there is practically no
communication on an individual level amongst a large group of people anymore that we rely primarily on radio and television for the views we hear the views but we don't have a chance to discuss them at all. And the circle is admirably equipped to encourage discussion because of its physical setup and you know a closeness the intimacy of it. And that there seems to be a great necessity for people to exchange ideas and to in the course of it either confuse and further confuse or hopefully clarify. Their point of view a bit I mean that there's human need of discussion. So I think terribly important and certainly on a political level. Well you know do you know what I would hope also by the way I mean I don't mean eliminate. I don't mean you intend that we're going to eliminate theater but I think that the one I mean when I say
politics I'm actually talking about life and I think that the theater as in theater is obviously involved in life and we would have a seminar that would incorporate theater figures. In political discussions what do you know at this point what nights or this will has been and I this particular one on Vietnam will be on April 24th. What time do you know at 8:30 and then I will use do you incorporate two of your musical activities in circle or or keep it restricted to the great things you do on Easter and Christmas these midnight I think they'll be demonstrators still down at Carnegie Hall and they have been because the ticket price there is just a dollar and a half interest has been so great that we couldn't accommodate all of them. You know any requests for the benefit of our listeners I mean they should know what we're talking about and probably know that Ted Mann in conjunction with Alexander Schneider of the
Budapest String Quartet group makes available to audiences every year at midnight a midnight concert at Carnegie Hall and on occasions that used to midnight for a very nominal price. I think you mentioned the dollars you know and it regionally I think when you started it was 50 cents for brand inflation rises I want everything. So political discussion music training and acting training school and current and ongoing productions comprises the activities of theater men the artistic director of circle and square and thank you Ted and thank you Ed for truck in and let us evolve. Joining us this evening on seminars and theater this is the kind of goodbye you know 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.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Seminars in theatre
Episode Number
Episode 13 of 31
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-n00ztk05).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3231. This prog.: Ted Mann of Circle in the Square Theatre, with Gladys Vaughn, director, and Ed Setrokian, actor.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:25:10
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 13 of 31,” 1968-04-02, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 13 of 31.” 1968-04-02. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
APA: Seminars in theatre; Episode 13 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