Monday, October 1, 2012


A FRAGMENT:   “Inherit the Wind”?
(Includes Pressman, Bob Linn, “Linda,” “Tom,” Cerasani, Benjamin, Ragusa, Siedel, Roberts, Zegers, Jenkins, “Suzanne,” “Claris,” “Larry,” Kulhanek, “Stuart,” “Lisa,” Bill Christopher)

. . . grew in Pressman’s performance -- these are legitimate.  But any exhibitory business added during a run is taboo -- it may “throw” a performance completely, and it seldom wins an audience.  Tom’s and Cerasani’s entrances were already faked and overdone.  Dick’s panting and gasping were out of proportion , called attention to the acting, destroyed the realism.  Dick’s Elijah was well done, believable.  His Venireman was too extreme, came out as a “take off” of a small town man, instead of a real person in a realistic play.  Dick’s work in general needs fusion with the group.  As an instance: Paula’s hot dog woman was a beautiful piece of acting.  She was a woman on the outskirts of a certain social strata, but Paula, the actress, was part of a total ensemble.  Dick needs to achieve this unity, this part-of-the-whole attitude.  Linda’s work deserves special commendation: she lost Linda tension, she was part of a whole without “trying”: she communicated an idea (not too well-written) with force in its simplicity.  She has come far in learning to act by forgetting that she has lines which must be said, action that must be done.  Go farther -- correct certain flattening of tones, and make participation still more omplete: hands still slightly reveal a desire to “do” something with a scene.  Almost the same may be said of Bob Linn’s work -- he , too, reveals an actor’s tension in his desire to do something with his hands.  Realize that if the elements of a situation are truly set up -- and Bob does this well -- the transfers of thought and emotion will occur.  They will not need to be pushed.  They will happen.  Their actor’s tensions send Bob’s and Linda’s voices into pitches above their normals.  Linda has almost mastered the tendency.  Bob still does not give his baritone tones the relaxation they need for easy play.  Jack Rader’s work was excellent: character was believable, played to the right scale, part of the whole.  Be sure you are in the open for important lines like the “voted for him twice,” etc.  Be sure you are in focus.

Jenkins has a fine sense always of what fits in the framework of the play.  His preacher was a narrow, was a fanatic but withal was human which made him a more frightening power.  By avoiding the excess, John intensified the drama, motivated Drummond’s “Oh, my God” -- a finely restrained performance of a highly charged role.  Suzanne, Claris were nice contrasts among townspeople.  I wish I could be sure that all of you who plan to be actors, enjoy acting as much as Larry does.  I know you laugh as you read it, yet that capacity is tremendously important: that totality of enjoyment that tunes up every part of the organism: the moment one steps on stage whether it is performance or rehearsal.  It may occasionally take one too far, but that danger is easily rectified.  It takes one full-tilt into any role, any kind of play;  there are no “buts” no rationalizations in it, no negatives.  When governed by sound dramatic sense this enjoyment generates a current that is electric.  Kulhanek’s work seems to lack this sense of enjoyment.  He has it in spurts, but it selcom carries him through a whole performance or a run.  His characterization of Brady was excellent, was winning, was commanding:  his matching of wits with Drummond was exciting often -- but there are continual lapses: playing through, to and with the crowd should be sheer joy -- it was as Pressman did it.  John seems not to have joy in creation of a role.  Larry has, Pressman has, Zegers has found it.  Jane should ask herself whether she experiences it.  I am not talking of the Nina-dream wish of acting.  I am talking of the sweet-bitter-maddening joy of acting.  Stuart has it, but he bottled it up too tightly.  Friday night he let it out more. released it, stopped working, had fun.  It was his best night.  He can spend time on the techniques I wrote of, and enter into the enjoyment of using them.  He can enjoy the play of his mind more, enjoy words more.  Lisa, I think, submerged a little too much this same capacity.  It used to be an excess; the pendulum went a little too far in the opposite direction here.  Her Mrs. Brade was well characterized -- a spark was missing in the acting of her.

Bill Christopher in a character role, Zegers in a straight, both have this vitality and energy that come from total enjoyment.  Even on off nights they carried the show along.  Bill does beautiful works with ?sing up words that touch off conflicting arguments -- particularly selective as his pace accelerated, as he topped lines.  His comedy springs from character in a particular situation.  Once in a while he becomes too preoccupied as Bill, I believe, or perhaps he follows a line of concentration beyond the requirements of the structure of the play.  This may account for certain lags in tempo.  Zegers continues a good job of playing on all levels, of playing with everyone, of being involved to the right extent.

Seidel -- project more -- amplify -- right as far as you want --  ?sle, Roberts, Benjamin -- all that the drama requires.

Pressman’s performance will stay in our memories -- the kind of thing that makes us ask:  how did it happen?  Can it be?  Drummond and Pressman were one identity.  An amazingly complete characterization communicated with consummate skill.  In Ondine, I spoke of acting with all parts of the body -- Dave did it: feet, hands, shoulders, spine, eyes, mouth; and everything springing from character, muscles as well as brain thinking.  It seemed he could play it forever and it never would be quite the same, for he was so responsive to anything and everything in the immediate situation.  He responds to what is there before him, to what he sees in people, to what he hears that no one else hears.  The character was fashioned out of Dave’s creative mind, what he read about the man, what he thought about him.  But once created he let him alone.  He did not manipulate the man, did not say “now play this train, now respond to this, now show this.”  He let Drummond take over -- let him wide open to all that might happen -- and what amazing pointing!  So well done that I do not know whether it was Dave or Drummond pointing meaning.  Wonderful handling of language.  How did it happen?  A lot of things Dave has worked on and thought about, came together, added up.  At some point he realized he didn’t have to plan what to do he trusted that his acting skills had been assimilated, could be depended upon -- This, I think, was not an accident.  It was a logical, inevitable evolvement.  Sometimes called a miracle.

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