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The Mildred did you participate in this play. You had a chance to do that yet. No I didn't participate in the play but I went on the stage to give my paying you know what would happen and what was your opinion. Well I felt that all three of the grown ups should go back to school because I would the jobs that they had they would not have a good life. So I wanted all three of them to go back to school to get a better job and about life and what how today the grown ups react to this desire. When you have when you sing when you suggested that to them what do they say. I guess they felt it was right you know there was a lot of noise in an auditorium. Yeah yeah. Well when she says. She's 14 she's referring to far younger characters in the play. The young husband and wife have already dropped out of school and are
both in menial jobs situations with one of them having lost his job due to automation which is also a very important element. That's what she refers to as grown ups and boy Tommy who wants to quit school and the boy Eddie whose father wants him to quit school. How old are you. You're 12 and you have no fear about going on stage. Just walking up there and acting and talking and speaking your mind. Of course I had fear when the lights was on and I seen a lot of faces shook with it turn off the lights and everything was all right and they did a beautiful job by the way. I just wanted to get a little outta there now put him in the winning. You know that's how we get people I say by the way the Knickerbocker Creative Freedom Foundation has been in existence Navajo along for three years three years now out of this program the second that I would actually
start from the very audience acting you know from the beginning right from the beginning from the beginning. Then let me ask you this Have you had any way I know you read a letter that someone saw the play and was converted. And we have loads and loads of such letters by the way. It's only one that is what I meant was that love you actually get results. Oh there is no question. Well then this leads me to another question for you. Where is the body there that's. 9 3 9 8 that's where you maintain your office. Do you have a stage there. You have a studio and an office. We rehearse there and conduct our business out there and our class and our class excuse me teaches an acting class every Monday night. These are the people that work up their professional actors. No we have absolutely no professionals. Most of the people who have appeared on
our stage have never played on a stage before in their lives. But you wouldn't know it. Everybody thinks they're professional. You asked a few minutes ago about people being a little fearful when they go up on stage and the performances that I saw the people that came from the audience at least one or two of them in each group. Could have gone on stage anywhere. They were much better than many of the actors and actresses that I've seen on TV and this was completely spontaneous. No one knew what the other person was going to say to them and their reactions were beautiful. That's all I got. James you really should see some of the kids in the class who are nonprofessional. We've had reactions from professionals who want to take movies actually because not only the material but the kids themselves are so dynamic and so alive. Actually what you were saying about these improvisations I have had. Any number of people
absolutely refused to believe that these kids in the improvisations were not coached beforehand by us and I keep protesting you know but they just will not believe it. They feel that we rehearsed them in the improv. That the performances are so in this room oh yes you teach acting classes of the school. Yes. If these are not professional actors and if they don't get coach who do you teach and why are you teaching. Yes this is a very good question. Actually. You know there is a great deal of. I'm not a therapist and I'm not a psychoanalyst or a psychologist but there is a great deal of therapy. The important thing about these acting classes is that first of all. As the cast so is the class it totally integrated. We have Spanish speaking kids we have black kids and we have white kids and adults adults children teenagers and mixed up through economic groups training for the whole you know the whole this is very much more action right. We've kept it mixed
ethnically generation wise and economic and level wise in terms of improvs First of all it's true that I lead them and directed and channel it and so on. Except but most of the content comes from them. And this is a problem that Mr. James brought up about despair and hopelessness is the problem that I think is general among our young people today and in the class I know it's just a drop in the bucket. There isn't you know I can't revolutionize the whole society. But the problem of finding one's identity. Is this a primary problem and not only does the winner give them this. But the class definitely gives in this are the classes acting like yes through improvisation really improvisations and and by the way I have also. It's also tremendously educational. You know in terms of. Of the material that I've been introducing I have introduced Shakespeare to kind to kids who can barely
read some of them and they are like Shakespeare himself. I think it would be absolutely gratified at the depth of feeling and and of understanding though the words are not spoken in the best possible way. You know I mean I tend to agree with you when I see what's being done with be around New York in the country at large. We have a kid anything would be an improvement introduced Yes if I've introduced poetry which is is just you know these kids I can't begin to tell you I think I mean I missed classes no. And how long are your office hours there. Thank you than 25 times Stephanie. Well given that I would like I would hope that we would find a place Mr. Park before we're through to talk about the whole area of funding which Mr. James and I want to ask you. You're independently wealthy and we maintain all of this. Thank you heard
again. Well you obviously are not on salary. I mean no one pays to go to this foundation. How do you mean how the how have you been maintaining the Diskos I mean I'm sure you need a nominal amount of space equipment materials and everything else. We have functioned from hand to mouth for three years in hopes of proving to the establishment the value of what we are doing and we haven't even gotten into a quater of the values Mr Piatt. There's a whole area we haven't even touched on. We are part of the Neighborhood Youth Corps and as such we train people in the studio for jobs of all kinds and this includes typing. The vice president is a member of the establishment and seems like you've convinced him. Chuck James is here he represents the vice president there's no problem the task force doesn't have any
money. I would like I would like to go into this business of funding and I wrote something before I came here this morning because this is a terribly crucial aspect. While we have received support from foundations such as the JM Kaplan foundation the estate of Sadie's Astor Amsterdam Hecht The Kleinman foundation the Gertrude's Foundation and from companies such as a Sam Fox publishing company federal electrical operation Sterling drug company and McGraw Hill. The amount of work to be done demands much greater commitment of resources both financial and human. The task of educating in the largest sense of that word. The establishment of governmental private business and foundations has been made easy unfortunately by the untimely assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Traditionally the
idea of giving has had a charitable connotation to it. Those of us who work in a practical down to earth every day manna know that continuous support of programs such as ours is not a matter of charity but a matter of urgent necessity for our own self-interest. It is hard to convey this sense of urgency. As a matter of self-interest to even the most enlightened person who has not experienced the feelings thoughts problems and hurts of the average resident of the disadvantaged community in a traditional war there is no question of money being appropriated for the means to carry out that war. Everyone understands and accepts that in this new war the war on poverty. We have yet to learn that the weapons while nonviolent nonetheless essential. And like all wars the weapons cost money doesn't it make good sense to expend money to alleviate the intolerable conditions which bring on
riots to prevent them rather than permit the financial loss created by riot destruction. Doesn't that make good sense to put the money used to apprehend and then Cossar a person for a crime to alleviate the conditions which breed the crimes. Well the premise makes sense but does Knickerbocker foundation claim to do all of that. I don't see how it alleviates poverty I don't see how it eliminates the need for incarceration of criminals I don't see how it does any of these things. And in the past three years. Let's say you have had an effect on turning the wayward. Person into another direction which is very valuable. And if it has been this valuable why have you not had a better reaction from quote the establishment. What has been having a lot of people really like to know. Everyone that has seen the play is very much impressed. There have been representatives from a number of companies down to see the
play I know this last performance which was sponsored by the Sterling drug company. For that a letter was sent to executives of many many companies here in New York City. Many of them attended many of them were impressed. But what will a fundit this is what we would like to know this is what the members of the task force have been trying for since September we've been trying to convince our companies that this play is worth sponsoring. At least one of our members was able to convince his company so that they sponsored this performance back on the 15th of March the sterling drug company. Several of the other companies have at least indicated that they're considering funding the winter. But we feel that it shouldn't be the type of thing that goes to committee for decision. There are funds that can be committed in the public relations or personnel departments of many of the companies in the city that
can be committed on someone's signature. But we just haven't been able to get through to them and I don't know why I wish I didn't let me ask you that Mr. Mayor and. MS. ROMANO And I can offer a speculative idea why do you think there is this hesitation Why do you think there is this deliberation. Why not if it does what you say it does. And I would certainly take your word for it. You have letters and you have mentioned I'm in this area. Neither mislead as capable as Mr. James and myself who spend daily time on this problem. First of all I like to say that yes it does keep youngsters from going to jail. This is another whole area. The aspect of our work which I don't know whether there is time to go into here. But we will wait let's turn to 15 minutes you can
always bail for one of the Neighborhood Youth Corps youngsters who was working with us at the time he was arrested for for creating a riot in Coney Island. I found out that the cost of keeping a youngster like him in jail and Mr Samuel Gans of the Human Resources Administration is my authority on this. One hundred twenty five thousand dollars. From the time of arrest through one years and cost situation this young man was in jail and could not be bailed out because the money the mother could not afford the bail. And I kept after legal aid society to make motions to have the bail reduced and it was finally done to a point where we Knickerbocker creative theatre raised the bail. Not this youngster out six
months. He'd have been in there the full year raised by performances. We raised it through private. Me and let me ask you this I'm actually saving one half of one hundred twenty five thousand dollars and the young man came back to work with us and the young man is now in a high school equivalency program. But you see I'm sure you readily see this had nothing to do really with the wind. This had to do with generosity in the humanitarian interests of yourself. Now now the motivation for this young man to go back to school. To get his high school equivalency came directly as a result of his rehearsing in a high. Let me ask you this. Is it possible that because you've been successful for the past three years without this particular funding you're trying to obtain. Isn't it possible that the thought is you've been doing so well you'll do just as well the next three now because there are many people who are just one moment to speak because I don't want to leave this microphone with the idea that
there aren't people who are tremendously interested in seeing is matter of fact there are people interested in this program going national. And there is a most exciting idea for a national tour whereby we will create repertory companies in every city we play in and leave a repertory company behind us about that's a very long range goal at the at the moment and we quiet like a half a million dollars to do and I'm not afraid of talking about these figures because I don't have anything. Doesn't bother me in that you have an organization I have a spirit through Dr. Donald guts chairman of the Council of Community Church who came up to see the last performance at Mr. Lee's school. We have been given moral and financial support for our work in the ghetto communities. They are prepared to make a large continuous commitment. This commitment will be heralded by sponsorship by Community Church of the ninety
seventh performance of the winner. At their church forty East Thirty fifth Street on Saturday April 27 at 8 p.m.. Admission by contribution of 2 dollars. Let me ask you another question was there maybe Chuck wants to make a comment on a earlier statement Chuck. Well back in the fall the metropolitan area task force felt that we would like to see the winner put on on a scheduled basis. Flo knows when her 97 performance is going to be 98 99 and 100 or indefinite at this point. We had drawn up a programme. Whereby the winner could have been scheduled for 80 performances at 40 different locations we wanted to do just as Mrs. Lee has suggested a moment ago. We wanted to present it for the adults we also wanted to present it for the children and we wanted to tie it in with our youth
motivation programs. We felt that we could either go in with the winner on the day of one of our programs or a week or two weeks before to kind of get the kids thinking about staying in school and then we would come. As a follow up. Well our problem of course was getting the money necessary to build portable scenery she's working right now with scenery that you know I don't know how many performances more it's going to last and neither does Flo. But we wanted to get portable scenery prepared so that they could move without worrying. And so that we could go out to the schools and say we would like to come in with one of our programs and we would also like to bring in a show called the winner. But in order to go in on a long range basis we had to know the money was coming. We went to the largest companies in New York City and asked them to fund it. They
saw film clips some of them went down to Camp Kilmer to see a performance that was put on down there because some of the people over New Jersey heard about it. They saw and they reported back the money never materialized. We continued with our part of the vice president's task force our youth motivation programs but for the most part we did it without the winter with the exception of the Sterling drug performance. This was the first one we really felt that we could have covered the entire school year and been able to advertise that he was going to be shown at specific places at specific times. We'd still like to do that for next year if we could then but let me suggest some remarks now. Then they will be more or less three pronged. First of all do you think the funds the city might just throw these out. We think the funds that the city is devoting to the New York Shakespeare Company not for the park so much but for the company that
travels and perform scenes in schools. Number one should be diverted to a project more like this or this project because you apparently do more good in schools in the Shakespeare scene or number two. You've heard of plays for a living. This organization which works with no scenery does a different type of presentation. They have the entire play on some help. Have you heard of them as I was you know what they do they work without scenery. And also do you perform primarily in the schools or do you go wherever you are called or wherever. First I'd like to answer the first question first Mr. equivocally no no money should be diverted. All of these activities are absolutely essential. There should be money for all of them. There cannot be too much spent in this area. And as a professional
actress I would be the last one to say Lord knows how much professional actors in this country need to have these outlets. All of these companies are using integrated casts. They must have a place to develop themselves. We are creating young actors. These outlets give them a place to develop from where we leave off. These are absolutely essential no money should be diverted. You definitely are not. And as to your second question we play it anywhere and everywhere we have gone into lunch rooms. We take in the at the tables and chairs away and we've set up by scenery sometimes we haven't even been able to use all of the scenery and we have. Improvised the set is what was the audience improvising their ending we've gone into churches and we've gone into schools all by invitation or how do they hear about you. We're all the way everybody's heard about us because you see I happen to be a very good
organizational person I started out in life as a legal secretary and I'm a pretty darn good typist and take shorthand very well too. And I also have worked in every area of the theater including public relations and this is an area where Miss Lee was just fabulous in the last performance. We did a job at P.S. 164 between the task force the school mostly and knickerbocker creative theater. We had 700 people in that audience that night and we had more parents out than I think they've gotten out in that school or most schools in New York City. We had more prizes going on. We gave kids prizes for it. They brought an adult with them there was a door prize for kids. We mislead thought up the idea of the kid who sold the most tickets. We sell them she sell them for 25 cents the money went to the scholarship state scholarship fund. And they made a goodly amount of money.
I was about to say that I had never heard of you but then you wouldn't be on here if I hadn't hadn't heard of you. So apparently somewhere along the line you did get the message out. Well you see all that publicity it's all been gotten over a period of three years and all basically without money in a couple of quick questions as we have about five minutes. As as a director Mr. McDONALD You know the usual director is confronted with certain problems in the commercial theater or in the theater where the basic premise is to entertain. What problems do you have as a director not directing. No actors. Actually I came across one problem which I had never even anticipated until I came into this work and that was the problem of reading
some of the kids couldn't read. And what I did was develop an improvisational method. As a matter of fact I developed about 10 of them I think improvisation is from the script. Which will be included in the book. But anyway. This is the way we worked through improvisation and so that the kids would add that they were very shy and backward at first. Do you think this type of method would work for adults. In other words what I'm suggesting suppose you had a number of political leaders on stage acting out their identity problems in terms of their roles that they play in life and of course to play in life. Do you think this method would work. I don't know about politicians they are a peculiar breed but I do know that for most of the rest of the human race. Dad it definitely does work of course because you I'm sure you've heard of psychodrama.
I was about to ask you about psycho drama. Carol you know this cuts across that I don't as I said before I do not claim to be a trained therapist or psychologist but it does kind of cross those lines of course. We cut across the education cultural and mental health and the numeration everything. I have about yet another minute left psychodrama raises all kinds of disk question problems but we don't have time to go to. However there is one question I'd like to ask you how would you say in what way would the broadcast media as a whole be able to implement or help what obviously is a community need springing from the Knickerbocker cleated foundation. I'm not quite sure I understand that all we need is money. Well you have answered the question in a way that we can help you so our time is up. We do want to thank members of the Nicobar Chiquita theater foundation
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Seminars in theatre
Episode Number
Episode 18 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.: Youth in theatre. Florence England (or Angland), Amelia Romano, director; Chuck James; May Cynthia Lee, junior high guidance counselor; Ronald Starrett and Mildred Carter, students.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:26:54
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Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 18 of 31,” 1968-05-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 18 of 31.” 1968-05-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Seminars in theatre; Episode 18 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