Friday, September 14, 2012



You let Shakespeare’s language and music carry the drama.  When you began to realize the power of the language, the drama in the language miraculously the production came together.  Having experienced this, you are ready to attempt other Shakespearean drama in which characterization is more intricate (except for Richard), trusting the language to give you the keys to character and action.  The best of lines, the pulse of the drama, you all achieved successfully, and you made it the pulse of actual speech.  You achieved too the vigor of the English language, something of the texture of the language.  Not all of you have yet attained the agility of tongue and lips, the frontal placement which give such clarity to Jenkins’ speech.  Rader made amazing progress when tones began to have front direction.  It was almost incredible how the character of Richmond shaped up, how it took ascendancy in the latter part of the drama as Jack learned to speak the language.  He still needs work on quick, bright articulation and continued work on frontal direction of tone.  It is worth noting the relaxation Jack achieved when he learned to rely on the language for action.  Zegers needs the same sort of work: to carry over the placement he uses in singing to his speaking, the same openness of tone, the same confidence in production of tones.  he seemed a little hesitant, a little reluctant to go all the way.  In this respect it is well to note the action that comes on stage when Pressman, Jenkins and Singleton speak.  Benjamin has it, too: a ringing note of vitality.  Stu needs to work for it: he submerges too much; the queens pushed too hard to achieve it; Cerasani has it, but still tends to smack into a line.  Roberts is on his way to achieving it.  He achieved a strong characterization, he gripped attention every time he spoke, he spoke volumes in two words, “monstrous, monstrous,” quietly spoken but so directed that they reverberated int he mind.  His Hastings grew in dimension each night, yet he seemed only to speak the lines with true values.  Many of you discovered the value of breaking a line just slightly with an intake of breath -- a little supplementary breath -- and a topping that carried you through to a full ending of the line.  It is perhaps, because she does not yet do it always, that Jane gets off on a forced or intoned note.  Her Queen Elizabeth was well-drawn, she matched up well with Richard in the climatic scene.  More work on articulation and breathing would correct the flaws.  Paula, too, needs the control that would come through the same process.  Carried away by an emotion, she loses control of the breathing and phrases; whole lines are spoke of without breath, without vocalization.  When Paula’s in control she has a magnificence that is tremendous.  She was Margaret, she was fury, she was revenge incarnate when Paula was in control.  Her entrances were chilling in their effect, some nights she played entire scenes without a break.  But her vocal and physical controls do not yet match her emotional power.  But the positive advances made in this production are most promising.

In the use of language, our weakness still seems to be in the use of onomatopoeia.  You seem to have a reluctant to let the sound of words suggest their meaning.  Paula has a sense of it, an ear for it.  I think her surge of emotions keeps her from playing it.  Carried away by loathing, she does not let sounds of words play Shakespeare’s expression of that loathing.  When she did, the effect was horrifying.  Benjamin has a good sense of it, and is beginning to break through the barriers which kept him from using it more completely.  could we extend the run, I feel sure than onomatopoeia would take over more.  It would be most useful to Jane and Linda.  they would not get so tense, nor work so hard if they trusted sounds to carry connotations.  Shakespeare often uses word groupings of nouns, of adjectives, to build an image or an emotion:  “son, husband, king,” for instance.  Jane tries to build through volume or stress or force.  Try sayng each word so that by sound alone it connotes the relationship.  Become aware, all of you, of the relationship of sound and meaning.  Work on it consciously for a time.  Trust that you can achieve an easy conditioned response to words.  Listen to records and don’t be afraid to imitate.  If you have talent, the limitation is merely a temporary device.

Many of you need to work on spatial relationships, to achieve the state when unconsciously you find the exact spot on a stage which best reveals -- in space -- your relationship to everyone else on stage and to the world of the drama.  It is one of Benjamin’s gifts:  it takes him into movement that not only reveals his thinking and emotion, but also best dramatizes that state of thought and emotion -- which best makes a visual comment to the audience.  It isn’t merely “taking stage” although that is part of it.  It is sensing the power of the space about you, the lines about you, the elevations.  Penny has it too -- perhaps not yet so sharp as Dick’s.  Jenkins has achieved it to such an extent that I do not recognize the actor of last summer.  Paula must work on it; Jane and Linda must acquire it.  I suspect it is latent in Stu, but he does not yet use it.  I suspect if Larry directed the play again, he would discover more movement within scenes.  His actors should have given it to him, instinctively, unconsciously -- as Buckingham and Richard, as Claris does even in small bits.  Kulhanek was using it well; he was strong in every scene, whether supporting the actor, or leading it.  (Vocally, too, he ws tremendously effective.)  He found the right orchestration and the right choreography for each movement.  I suggest that all of you work on it consciously to sharpen your awareness of spatial relationships.  (Androcles is sadly lacking in it.)  Whenever possible walk on a stage alone, find the strength and weakness of all areas through your muscle responses.  Stand in doors, at windows, walk up and down steps, stop at various points, sense at that point your relationships to a total picture.  Once your muscles have learned this awareness, you may rely on them to respond involuntarily.  Bill Christopher needs to cultivate this sense.  He was excellent in reading of lines, in characterization; his work had a fine clarity, but a sense of spatial relationships would add fluidity of relaxation, of unity.  I felt a lack of this spatial relationship in Clarence’s first entrance.  I think Tom did not sense a relationship to the full stage, to the world outside the stage, to the steps of the tower.  His second scene was well played as he learned to let the lines carry, to break them as necessary, but even there did Tom have a visualization of relation to arched windows and black draped cot? -- and in that connection: careful attention should have been given to props, their lines, their draping.  Penny and Dick had a serious hurdle to play against in the coffin scene.  the visual image of the bier, badly draped, with underpinnings visible, was almost ruinous.

I am not going to discuss individual performances further since rehearsals have pretty well covered them in analysis.  The difficult mournng scenes might have been helped if a niche or archway had formed a framework for them, a matter of picturization as well as of the vocalization I have indicated.  Dick’s Richard deserved the applause it received.  He made the role his;  he illuminated it; realizations were beautifully played.  the role was growing in depth nightly, it will continue to grow.  It could so easily be bravura acting, a tour de force.  Dick made Richard a human being, not a monster -- an incredible human being but a man demanding our attention and concern.  As with all Shakespeare, we may discuss, challenge interpretations of passages, of motivations but not while and as Dick plays it, for all is motivated, all is played with clarity.  Again this season we have seen intensification, amplification, assimilation, and complete belief as truth.

We should note that Harry and Linn stood out in the crowd because of the completeness of their concentration of dumb minds on, slow minds on exterior details and then the completeness of their dumb connection after the detail had sunk in.  They both reduce all body activity to the mere necessity of moving the necessary slow muscles.  When they come alive, the flopping of their empty hands is incongruous with their stolid bodies, the nodding of their heads incongruous with their stupid minds.  This is Shakespearean clowning of high order.  Bob used it in the murder scene, the only trouble there being that his tongue was too agile with words that needed stronger pointing.  Jack was on his way to it, but permitted too much emotion to play, taking focus from the “blades, the stone” things that killed for money.  You who take Styles next quarter remember Bob and Harry’s work for it is your first assignment.  Clowning is an art every actor must know.  It is behind all comedy, even the most sophisticated.  Would there were a sense of it in Androcles.  Shaw was a Clown.  It (the clowning) plays opposite his intense conviction and concern.  “Paradiso” is pure clowning.

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