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When of course the problem is if they run a long time then we can't run another one you know I mean you know why you have to take your choice. In the case of several plays and one right now if that well frankly the critical and audience respond to these you know how good we move the place to another theater like Advil and smell the electronic Negar another it is now playing it at the mind because the responses to life go to the Old Glory moved when it was very young. Organs go going to go out and going through their iPod this is employing American Voices of a mother and I try to give birth to all of these me logging on to great success I would like them to go out and grab it may be good for the audience and upon the how does a theater like to maintain it so. How do you manage to financially stay in a position to do this because John Hancock has to be paid. I mean and deservedly something that all of the actors in the scene designers costume designers you don't you certainly don't you're not able to maintain that from the subscription.
But the sort of theater we have simply cannot has to be subsidized and fortunately we have a grant from the Ford Foundation which pays for the writers development program which brings the production right up to when the audience comes in. We also have a smaller grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and we have this year we got to money from the National Arts Council to subsidize didn't take kids and things like that. And we have besides our subscribers we have patrons and sponsors who give us you know more than the usual subscription amount of money and this deep kindness of strangers and then other people we manage to survive and this keeps you in the black more or less to go on from year to year with these down the yeah the grants are the main thing and of course they're on a three year basis in the first year of our second Ford Foundation grant. We're internally grateful for more on the on this current production and it got in the Red Cross. If I could ask you a few more background questions just for how long did you
work on the conceptualization of preparing oh about 5 or 6 months this included the reading of the whole phone books and write. The very short they didn't take significant part of that. But the casting we spent a great deal of time on and working out the design in the casting. This is a big problem I would imagine with a play like this how were you able to get Kenneth Haig interested in coming down to the American play was kind of done Promethean Promethea us up at Yale and at metal up there and it was done because he came I think because it was on the whole play great fan and very interested in playing the part so wonderful part and I think he's fabulous and it kind of egg is one of the I think the one of the good actors here that they're in America that is an American he received his training primarily in England.
Getting paid was in the Broadway production of look back in anger right here tonight at the party out in England and played it here. Would you say in auditioning a number of actors that if you were asked what outstanding problem confronts American actors would you be able to say so from having auditioned so many actors and having heard so many actors. Well I would think that the major problem is the that there's a kind of split in this country where you have two schools and two kinds of actors fundamentally you have your your inner people influenced by the actors studio who have trouble playing classical roles and whose speech is often marred by regional accents and you have your outer people who are trying to Carnegie Tech and are kind of there's a kind of Shakespearean fag acting effort to play classical roles in a very fancy way and with an absence of any any inner life and that
you seldom find an actor who is that so-called the complete inner outer actor. And I think it's the absence of very many of those people in this country that is one of the is our our big lack I think those are those actors who can create an interesting and interesting X Turnell form with inner life tend to earn a great deal of money in movies and are hard to lure on to the stage in an interesting place. Jack squeezy are you in or out of acting. Well I don't know what. I do know is that the problem with American actors and they really don't know what they are. Is it well-known that each when each one has a lot of theories for one of the other and he said Well I started out as an inner actor and then I had to learn a few speech problems so then I went into pantomime which I really like and which is my main talent but. I believe in the inner thing I I believe the emotional
inside of you can is more important than to have a lot of technique and it's not a lot I will. Many critics I mean or. Or the answer. The response to that usually is you may have a great deal in you. And the difficulty is allowing someone else to see it or to determine what it is that you have in you by way of some outer technique. How does the inner come out without the other technique. Well then you need the outer technique. To get a little confusing. I I was trained originally to feel and to get the inner technique but I was told that if they can't hear you then it's all wasted anyway. So now for myself I'm concentrating on my voice and a little stronger technique because I think I've mastered the inner emotional life. But for me it's very confusing because then I have a strong path to my technique. So I'm like a split person I have the two
things working for myself and sometimes I get confused you know. Do you feel that oftentimes. Having this pantomime ability that he would rather say it through the use of your body or face than to yes verbalize Yes as a matter of fact some plays I did in college I had lead parts in for example let's say mostly air play and the director thought I did it better and he cocked some lines because I could express it more through a facial expression or pantomime or movement. When I work on a part usually I work from a physical point of view first before I even say anything. You know what is he thinking what is he doing. And then and then later on I work on the words. This is just my personal problem I've always been a little bit afraid of speaking and. I've got that I haven't had confidence in the voice but it's coming and I've worked on it you know. How did you manage to move yourself into the theater being afraid of speaking.
Well there's not much pantomime around. I mean it's it's a feel that isn't as popular as theater. And if you want to work you have to work in theater you know because you know you're like a specialist. And. I when I first came to New York I would go to an agent or something and I'd walk in and say Hi I'm a mime and he'd look at me kind of funny and say well what's with the mime. I don't know if you say you are an actor and you're a dancer you're a singer. I said get out. Yeah right. Well they sort of know what you are but until Marcel Marceau came along nobody knew what my name is or what pantomime is. But now it seems to be a little more popular and I feel a little more secure in this respect. John Hancock and auditioning all of these actors were which. Which group did you encounter most in the audition that you felt that you could sense from just an audition that they were that they had the inner thing going but
the outer thing was missing or the outer glowing in the interim it's the latter. I think that in the case of a play which is set in period the casting director will tend to bring in a large number of people who have experience playing classical roles. Are you at all distressed or long by the trend that seems to want to do away with words in the theatre. I mean we're moving it seems with their pocket groups moving to the theater of mixed media. We're very excited by all that. Are you guys a director I think that that's the director coming into his own to a degree. I still played like Endicott in the Red Cross which is fundamentally dependent on words. I still like and I mean I enjoy. I would want to limit myself just to mix media and all that. I do think that there is a great deal of excitement to be found in a smaller emphasis on words I think the words have been over overvalued in the
theater too long to writers at this point. I think that plays our words a bit more than they should and don't quite realize that they're creating a dramatic event which is behind their words or around their words and not just the surface of their words. Well that is this is it really important whether a writer thinks too much of words or does not think too much of words or any other any other event. What I'm getting at is it isn't really a question of words so much as it's a question of of nothing happening. And by this I mean if you take a teacher in a classroom the teacher can cause something to happen and it really in a in a theatrical way by changing variety or a teacher can do nothing for an hour at a talk and the words might be the same. Yes exactly. Well that's I think that a great many playwrights are because really it's very difficult to get much experience in the theatre in this country at this point I mean they are not quite sensitive enough to
the difference between those two classes. I mean that as long as the words are held the same held constant between the two experiences they can't tell that one is dull and the other is not. Is there a need or do you see any possible connection between the sort of. College campus rebellion against universities. When I say do you see any connection between that and what we're saying I mean an unconscious almost subliminal dissatisfaction with the whole teaching process and consequently the same kind of dissatisfaction is really in the area of theater and we have Lincoln Center which I thought Walter Kerr wrote a very interesting article about this past week that it is simply there doesn't worry about its attendance the next week because it is a subscription.
But the fact that you know I'm not. But do you at all trace any similarity of this dissatisfaction or do you see it exclusively as a social eruption. I think there must be a certain connection I don't know how you would characterize it but I mean you feel it in the air that there's a certain kind of black rebellion of a certain kind going on and I think it's a very healthy fine thing. But in terms of of how specifically it connects with. The guerrilla theater in this kind of thing except for the people who function in both areas I don't I don't see any specific intellectual link. I mean I don't see that a person who's done who's published in both areas being of enormous impact you know. I mean. You've been influential in regional theater or you are very interested in active in regional. I was I really wasn't especially influential in it I mean
like when blowen Irving came to Lincoln Center I went out to sea and took over the actor's workshop. You were with them and sometimes as of oh I was here and but when they came here went out there and then went to Pittsburgh to the Pittsburgh Playhouse where I was fired for using the urinals on the stage and fired fired. Absolutely I mean they were going to take away my key to the city. Oh that's right. Did you have to clear with anyone before you put anything on the stage. No I didn't even anticipate any trouble with this but the head of the Mellon Bank I took it very unkindly. I think a lot was written up in the papers at that point Rogers. What was the objection to the euro on stage. It would just seem to be obnoxious in itself I mean they had by that somehow it was a crime in itself. It wasn't using you know what was going to happen if you like that you know you might be called for it.
Well after you would read Hawthorne's books and play it's getting back to a more pristine stage of matters. Were you excited by this material all tremendously I think it's. It's very important to do these plays now and I also was very moved by them personally I think the idea of a man who. Who drifts into violence as I think a very. Very deep one and one that I identify with personally the way the play draws this out with Kenneth Hague and the set of his very dramatic point focal point in the play I mean this is again on Kenneth Hague. You mentioned actors having inner life I would say anything he has achieved and I think he fulfils very well done a great deal of enter in intensity and you feel that this that he is really he's not mouthing words. You never get that feeling from can't take it all. There's a great deal of energy the
intensity and and and really skill of working as I know him and you. How many of the actors that you wanted or how much quality of what you wanted did you get Were you able to get percentage wise let's say out of all the actors do you feel if you had gotten 100 percent of the actors that you were looking for the play would have been differently produced or it would have. Gone into a more intense direction or what. Or do you feel oh I think all you know of course but I don't think that that the failure to get certain actors in certain roles as has really hurt it at all I mean I think it's very effective and these people are very fine. I don't know we've achieved I think about 90 percent of what we were all after but that's considerably above what one that usually achieves I think you know the scene designers are not really in too much fear.
I would say Mr. Levine in terms of mixed media do you see actually greater artistic opportunities opening up because of this this concern about sensory all sensory influences on the audience. What do I see. I I've been given a great deal of thought I were a good deal in the happening in that I have done a lot of mixed media works. It's almost a convention of the art of creation. When you begin what's going through my mind is I'm trying to compare the experience of the next media production with doing something like Endicott and I guess the. I guess the difference would be simply the. Of the openings for our personal
statement that that occur in something of a mixed media. Where I would in effect be the director or would be in a co-op or to evolve position with say a dancer and composer probably. As opposed to something akin to where it is essentially interpreted where I'm trying to get into the images of the writer and director mix media is extremely exciting. I'm signing it at its best. It has me beyond all modern passive made them as actual participants in an experience which I think is more desirable for the character of the American people in the current production and again the Red Cross. What would you say the audience has as its opportunity to be more than passive in
reacting to and it can't read because I think the staging there also lends itself to a great relief to a not a great degree but to as much as possible of involving getting the audience here almost. With a third of them physically made the way it is. The audience almost has always somewhat been physically involved and somewhat with the staging there with the bridge coming although very close and there's that in that involvement. Because you're talking about it even more of a well the necessary participation forced visit but is occasionally part of an audience to the media. I'm talking more about a non seated audience though I have done it with the seedlings also right by using the entire theater as the performing area. Which I haven't thought about him for so long he thinks I might get in my way there's there's a bear in the
car the Red Cross said gently. Yes he's wonderful. Good. Is there a girl in there that's my partner healthcare. Oh well I'm going to give it away again. I think that's one of the cutest animals in the play that bad. That is Polly Harding and she is my partner. Seen that you asked me about him. In my mind troop and she's a trained dancer and mind and I think she does want to hear that is my right as strange a strangely poignant effect is created when the bird shot even though you know it's a fake banjo but I went when the bear is shot it really creates a very poignant moment is that I think people given the animals much more than humans. Thank you. Be any end you know I was mad at me Oh you didn't like it when the governor in each case extends leniency no matter what the penalty is being measured out by the church group there. Is this what is this saying
John. What I mean by that is. In one case the penalties that the Indian should be taken out and shot or someone should be taken I have as I recall of the incidents perhaps cut off or whatever. And in each case the governor lightens the powerlines right handle to is kind of soft on Marymount soft on Maple's when he remembers I think. Happier times with his wife and made a in this and so that he's drawn by memories as well as just a certain amount of natural compassion to lighten these penalties. But what is there also the accusation that he's sexually jealous of what's going on there. Is it is there some underlying factor that the governor has sexual problems and consequently is taking involved in this. He really does want to win. B is free and he wants to.
Oh I think so but I mean I think that it goes his problem goes much beyond that. I mean Martin accuses him of saying you want this Indian woman for yourself and that's what you know it's like Make Love Not War. You know but I think that his problems go beyond that to the fact that he gets enjoyment out of killing in itself that he that does fulfill I'm even sexually in a way and. I think that that's the area of his problem rather than so much of sexual repression as the suggestion is not that if he had a happier sexual life he would know I don't think it's offered as a solution. We wonder a bit you could go back to the Greeks. We have people to love and I do want to ask you a few questions. All of you. Number one Julia Miles is there a current production in the works now at American plays that you might be able to mention or talk about. Well as I this is the last production of the season for us and then we have. We open next season with George Borys the cannibal.
And that the next that is vies we've got what is the end of this season and the beginning of next week and then the Red Cross ends May 19th and we start up again September early October you know what do you all do during the summer you go you go acting are juveniles hanging out at the beach with my family and children and flop I mean what I say I was a nice long vacation everybody. John Hancock you set off a part already that you know about your next directorial tour has that been set yet now there are several things I'm working on. Nothing I can talk about. Are there any scenes or costumes that you are going to be involved in that you know about at this point drug eluting. I'm engaged on rather loosely at the moment but I will return to San Francisco probably within the next three or four weeks and
engage in an experiment and help run for the first time she will have used design costumes and then we will build the costumes and then experiment with an audience participation project and the dealing and deal with the idea of scale which is of particular interest to me and I have a personal experiment that will grow out of that for a kind of theater. That sounds like an exciting mixed media situation with Dad it's the movie. And Jack are you any more pillories that you're going to find yourself in or that I want you out of my head about to do are you are you on the boards or somewhere in this area with your position. Usually we perform in New Jersey and Connecticut we travel quite a bit. You know nice thing about having your own group as you do we're constantly you know as an actor. The jobs you have those long pauses dramatic pauses between jobs you know.
But with the mime troup it works pretty nice because we do we're kind of kind of constantly and if we do have time out we perfect ourselves we always experiment trying new things. I like your training did you receive most of your training at Harvard in theater or did you finally got it after Harvard where you know there are no there is no theatre department at Harvard all they have a theater and I just did a lot of plays them on extracurricular basis and I think it did happen there. I mean I just I look I've learned by doing. Do you think most universities should have a dramatic art department. Oh I don't really I think that there are too many people being trained for the number of jobs that are open at this point in the whole area. I think that there are too many too many drama students in this country. How do you see him pulling out of them. I mean none of the schools really satisfy the need for a really professional training but the quantity of
half trained people that are big is being turned out is enormous and unfortunately is. But do you see employment opportunities expanding with the growth of regional theatre to a degree. Yes I think that that is one area of the theater that's clearly improving but I I don't think that a lover of the number of people studying drama in this country at this point will ever be able to find work. I want to thank our guests the members who are involved in the American place theater's current production and account of the Red Cross by Robert Lowell directed by John Hancock. The general manager of the American Place Theater Jr. models and the costume designer for the current production Robert Levine and member of the cast Jack school E.C.. And this is a production that is worth your opportunity of seeing if you can and perhaps if it's moved to another theater I don't know if the same cast or same people will follow it so it would make a difference. But
if what we've said throughout the 55 minutes seems not enthusiastic. I think those listeners who follow us every week know that this much is very enthusiastic. Thank you very much. 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 it's distributed by the national educational radio network.
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Seminars in theatre
Episode Number
Episode 23 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.: Members of the American Place Theatre discuss "Endecott and the Red Cross." John Hancock, director; Julie Miles (or Myles), general manager; Jack Scalessi, actor; Robert Levine, costume designer.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-23 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:26:31
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Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 23 of 31,” 1968-06-11, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 20, 2024,
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