Friday, August 31, 2012


“Make-believe” is essential to the acting of any drama.  Ibsen said,  “If a woman to whom motherhood is revolting lived in a society which said motherhood is woman’s primary function, what might happen?”  The actors must begin with the same “if” and create such a world and such a woman.  We are finding that Maxwell Anderson could set up his “if” hypothesis but his mind could not imaginatively create and fill the world he needed to provide for his dramatic action.

What Anderson lacks as playwright, too many actors lack as actors: the child’s ability to create a complete new world peopled with all sorts of beings who belong there; the ability to believe completely in that world and to have fun in the drama which inevitably and logically develops in that world.  To the child, this world becomes bigger than life, its boundaries are limitless.  He sets ouf fearlessly for he believes in it.

Barrie offers full opportunities for imaginative creation so essential to all acting,.  Our difficulties were due to the fact that we did not find the magic “if” until opening night.  Thursday and Saturday nights were sheer delight.  Barrie’s enchantment filled the auditorium and sent people home smiling, laughing in a state of happiness we associate with childhood.  On Wednesday night there was tension due to your lack of complete belief in your make-believe and on Friday you played remembered games instead of creating new ones.

Hang onto what you achieved.  Your theatre -- even (perhaps particularly) your realism needs this imperative plus of make-believe creation.  We are only just beginning to find it in “Barefoot.”  Most people in “Mary Stuart” are still playing with both feet in the dull, work-a-day world.

Dan still needs, in all his work, the creative mind playing behind words, between words, beyond words;  a mind creating all the time within a form.  Barrie’s form is love for his people and demands finding on the spot the images best suited to describe them, and then the words that best express the images.  Burleigh’s is a mind which thinks ahead of words; which sizes up, makes decisions never expressed in words.  Dan thinks of how and why.

The creative mind -- author or actor -- sets up the “if” and takes off, playing his drama fearlessly because he believes in the innate logic of the situation he has created.  Run out on the spring board, dive off fearlessly and trust in your ability to swim in any sort of current.  Rules are learned to be forgotten.  Forget ‘em.  But you haven’t yet learned the rule of swelling to the end of a line.  You pull out all the stops at the beginning of a line and then go to a diminuendo.  Learn the opposite, start easily and then pull out the stops.

McClory may have imagination, but he does not use it onstage.  That little episode with the Irish soldier is the robust note the first act needs.  Mike doesn’t play the child’s game.  “I’m an Irish soldier.”   He does not participate fully in the game, with imagination creating freely eery minute;  he does not key up to the bigger than life proportion required.  On the mechanical side he does what Dan does: smothers words, throws ends of lines to the floor instead of to the balcony.

Janet Lee’s work has fine crisp decisiveness; it is good theatre.  She can let herself play more freely within the form she has set up; she misses some of the surprises because she is a little too rigidly exact.  She is right in what she does -- very right -- but there can be more fluidity within that rightness.  She, too, needs to forget the rules and “have fun.”

This production must have taught all of you the necessity of having fun each night in the make-believe of knowing that unexpected miracles are going to happen.  It is right to act the form definitely, but let your creative minds have fun within that form.

Linda and Sarajane played beautifully together.  Their exits were beautiful in their timing.  There was beautiful credibility in their characterizations.  Sarajane plays freely so nuances were added each night.  Linda did not land all of her lines as successfully as the “rabbit hole” one.  the “woolen draper’s daughter” missed the little derogatory note that might have played the incongruity.

Charlotte:  one catches Faye manipulating the character now an then.  Perhaps the belief in the “if” is not strong enough to hide the technique of communication.  Willoughby’s Ensign Blades, just as extreme as Charlotte, seemed more freshly motivated every night, more responsive to the immediate situation, keyed finely to the tempo and tenor of the Act.  The Old Soldier and Gallant episode was well played in the Barrie spirit, as was Penny’s miserable wallflower.

Once Bill Pogue came to accept the make-believe spirit, he was the ideal Valentine Brown.  He played with the plus sincerity more believable than life.  I must confess tht I wasn’t sure that it would work -- kneeling to an imaginary lady -- but he made it seem the most logical behavior of a man in love.  Bill AChieves a nice balance between the part of his mind which acts as the author and the part which is character;  he seems to lose himself in the role while he is still unobtrusively objectifying the author’s viewpoint.

Bill, with Gretchen and Claris, gave us the people Barrie loved and we shared his love.  Except for some difficulty on Friday night they seemed possessed with a sheer delight in acting, which when disciplined (as it was) fills an auditorium with an indefinable something which is theatre magic.

Gretchen was the heroine Barrie must have loved: radiant, beautiful, gay, whimsical, etc. etc.  She made the role hers, as if it had been written for her alone (once she came to believe in it completely).  It was a glowing performance.  She still has voice limitations, but what she achieved in a few weeks would indicate she has no problem which work cannot solve.  Her Phoebe will be remembered.

Claris scored a triumph with Susan.  She designs her role with care.  Her visualization seems complete from the beginning; she has auditory images that are almost a musical score; she knows the essence of every moment; she knows how to build a line and how to land it; she knows how to use business to corraborate what she is saying; her exits and entrances are triumphs.  She brings this design to rehearsal and then, remarkably, she plays as if there were no design, as if everything were happening for the first time.  With the design worked out, she is free to have fun responding to all that is happening.  Like lines, the design is created to be forgotten, to set her free to be Susan, to think as Susan, to react as Susan.  Her spontaneity on stage is evidence of the success of her method of work.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


It is indeed a triumph in acting and directing to turn a theatre piece intended for two virtuoso performances into a drama of a group of people involved in a common disaster.  Time, place and people were inevitably linked together, inseparable.  One does not remember Janet Lee as Blanche in the newsboy scene.  One remembers an unforgettable moment, a boy and a woman caught  by time.  One does not remember Russel playing Mitch opposite Janet Lee’s Blanche; one remembers a man’s realization of a need, a common need.  Laughter, Negro and white, and the Quarter is created, not bits performed by actors, but moments of life.  Not a good actress creating a woman’s physical love for her husband as she holds a picture, but the physical love itself we remember.

And so it is that the drama as a whole gripped us, not brilliant histrionics.  Group acting, ensemble playing of moments account for the success of this production.  The flow of action from moment to moment may have had its origin in the driector’s mind, but all actors justified and motivated the fluidity.  The roots of action were in character and in situation.  All was justifiable and inevitable.  This is excellent acting and excellent direction.  And so the poetic elements of the drama emerged, especially in the Friday night performance, which was the high point of the run -- for the conflicting forces were most equally matched, and the objective communication level most clear and sustained.  Realism, illusion and artistry were in balance.

Robin’s Stella was right.  Robin gave us the keys to understanding her.  I could wish that Robin will achieve a stronger support for her high tones -- stronger rib support generally -- but we believed in her Stella, and that is good acting.

Russel was Mitch, Mitch was Russel, so beautifully assimilated I don’t know which is which.  Russel “plays through” beautifully; Russel doesn’t “try to be,” he is;  Russel’s entire body realizes what is what is happening; he understands with muscles, mind  . . . even bones, it seems.  Russel has achieved what I said Linda still lacks: the ability to let the action happen, to let the drama play.  One believes in him completely.

Jerry’s newsboy had the same qualities: the moment happened and that was that.  The actor Jerry who used to manipulate every act, who used to play emotions, has disappeared.

Pablo and Steve were poker players and no more -- and that is good acting.  The background figures were counterpoint, mood and action, and part of the total fluidity of the drama without standing out as bits -- and that was excellent acting.

Zegers, too, has achieved inevitability in his acting;  he lets the action happen; he plays with ease and authority.  Any difficulties he has stem from the nature of the role itself.  Stan does suffer -- as a brute suffers.  Stan destroys and experiences no joy in the destruction.  Stan is virile and dynamic, but the virility and dynamics are used only to pull down, to bring the world to his brute level.  Stan has no capacity to realize and therefore, even though he suffers, he is not truly tragic.  He does not struggle to rise; he struggles to pay back by tearing down.  This an audience should see and understand, but not sympathize with.  And that is the difficulty in playing the role.  To be the brute only is not enough -- it is revolting.  To reveal the cause of the brute suffering can lead to sympathy for Stan which upsets the play’s intentions.  Blanche may be neurotic, unbalanced, even ridiculous. but her passing must leave an emptiness where beauty has been, or could be, and we must not sympathize nor smile at the brute forces playing stud poker.

Friday night Zegers and Parker together brought the drama to its grim, empty conclusion.  Janet Lee has the gift of transferring thought, idea, image into instinct action.  She is immediately; without any puzzling, any confusion, she is, she does.  Her whole body, her whole mind, her entire organic mechanism becomes instantaneously what is called for by the given chraracter in the given circumstance.  She is told to sustain vowels, she sustains them and they become Blanche speaking.  She is told to use a full vocal scale and Blanche uses the full vocal scale.  The written line, the given stage direction, are instantaneous stimuli to character action.  In the beginning we noted at tendency to play the emotion, to play the emotion without immediate motivation springing from the response to fellow actors.  She still occasionally misses the initial shock which is the response to an unexpected stimulus; she still tends occasionally to skip to the emotion of the response before the realization.  But she has only to remember the electricity of the moments when this occurred and she will be able to achieve it always.  Her on the spot recognition of the doctor and her realization of his strangeness -- and the doctor and nurse both were exceedingly well played in their economy of detail -- all the moments when she actually read eyes and behavior -- these are the moments to carry away and use always.

The total performance of this drama will be memorable always.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Intellectual comedy differs from other types of comedy in that it puts ideas in conflict, not personal qualities of character, nor manners.  The people in intellectual comedy are individuals, true, but it is not their quirks as individuals that count;  it is their ideas, basic philosophies.  From the moment that Eliza is spilled into the dramatic action of the play, her romanticism is in conflict with the Higgins world of reason, right to the final curtain and beyond it.  and a dramatist who designs such an entrance for his leading lady intends to upset the applecart -- or flower basket -- repeatedly in the course of the comic conflict.

If you heard Pressman and McClory Wednesday night, fighting each other on political issues, etc., you witnessed Shavian comedy.  Each was passionate in his beliefs; it was a battle every instant, neither gave an inch.  They used almost no action.  They simply sat at a table, each meaning every word he said -- yet both were smiling, laughing, involved, yet no one could get a word in.  Both Dave and Mike are endowed with strong personality traits, but these traits were not in action.  Only their minds were doing battle; only minds were in action.  Both were enjoying the fight to the hilt.  They interrupted each other; they talked at the same time until one or the other scored and they had to recover and take a new stand.

That’s Shaw: brilliant discussion on conflicting issues; ideas in conflict.  Note the rapidity of speech, which still cannot keep up with the rapidity of minds.  Shaw writes for actors who can speak brilliantly, who can articulate with rapidity and great clarity, who can build involved and balanced sentences to brilliant climaces that are aimed straight at a target and never miss.

Only Pogue and Claris in the cast seem to have this gift.  No, Willoughby and Ziesmer in their brief moments used it.  All the rest of you fall into the bad habit of the slurred word at the end of a line, the downhill inflection pattern, the broken speech of commas periods, colons, instead of unbroken thought topping over periods and commas, and permitting no interruptions or riding over interruptions until a score is made.

Roberts has the basis of a brilliant characterization and Shaw gave him brilliant lines, but only occasionally did Roberts manage to land them.  He starts lines too high, too loud, and runs out of breath and energy before the end.  Sometimes the last word was even inaudible  -- and worse, unpointed.  It hit no target.  Roberts has a natural clarity of speech which should have been an asset, but he did not make good use of it.

Gretchen is catching onto the idea and with better breath support she should become excellent in this respect.

LInda and Wayne pound too hard and overstress and thereby lose brilliance.  All of you should listen to British records from Restoration to the latest Noel Coward.  Not only listen, but speak right with the record.  and work on tip-of-the-tongue-lips-and-teeth exercises for light, clear, rapid articulation.

Secondly, Shaw writes for actors with Shavian minds.  Part of the actor, regardless of what role he plays, must be Shaw pulling the strings, pointing the idea, hewing to the straight, lightning line of thought.  Shavian drama is not full of deviations from the line, of implications.  It starts with a positive objective and goes straight to the goal.

All of you seemed shaky in objectives.  Sequences turned into more dialogue.  It’s the danger in the Doolittle sequences, and Dave always fell into it at some point.  Doolittle comes with a definite purpose in mind and departs when it is achieveed.  He comes for money, he goes.  On the way to his goal, he discourses on his philosophy, but he is still driving ahead.  he comes to tell Higgins off and he not deviate until he says:  “And that’s what your son done to me.”  He may change his techniques, but not his goal.  How would you like a tennis match if the ball were permitted to lie on the ground while players just chatted?  Too often, you all dropped the ball and cared nthing about scoring.

This was Linda’s difficulty in the theme sequence of the last act.  Eliza’s goal is not to compliment Pickering, but to pierce the Higgins way of life.  Lines start in Pickering’s direction but they end pointedly at Higgins.  Linda turned toward Higgins but there was not sufficient mental and vocal direction of the thrust.  Her bullet never quite hit the target.

Faye always know what her target is.  Once in a while she lets a little character innuendo take precedence over the thought and she had a tendency to not land lines securely enough -- a tendency she conquered quite successfully.  But note and remember: innuendo has no place in Shavian drama.

All of you need to work on speed and vividness of reaction.  Again Pogue is excellent in this respect and Gretchen used it as the source of very find comedy response.  It is still a lack in LInda’s work, altough she has made terrific progress.  She still does not quite let her mind play freely enough while listening.  She feels safer in the planned response, or in the physical character response.  And so that important initial click as an idea hit was mostly lacking; she played the emotional response that follows the click.  Theres is no devise to be used as a remedy, except to know that lines are learned early to be forgotten as lines.  then let your wits play freely in the situation and the electric sparks will flash.  This is the last step in this process of becoming an actor.

After her brilliant success in the tea scene, LInda should be able to progress rapidly.  Everyone played this scene with brilliance.  It had, in everyone, the comic attitude which must prevail in all scenes.  As a result it was played with Shavian clowning.  I know that you all see that the tea and the main -- we could have used a butler too -- were absolutely necessary.  As directors and actors, always ask at the very outset: what are we doing.  In this sequence, on which we can concentrate during the laughs.  The movement of the maid   -- and Janet Lee did it with perfection -- gave the scene a fluidity without which frozen tableaux might have killed the comedy.  The drinking of the tea was a “natural” act, but correctly timed -- as you did it -- it “played” the laughs.

The fluid stage, the dynamics of staging, Roberts needs to observe and study.  Wayne and Bill did excellent orchestration and pointing in the background.

Robin’s work is excellent fundamentally.  She needs brilliance that comes from intensification.  Robin shuts out a little too much the joy of acting.  She shuts off too completely her own natural joyful participation.  The more colorless a character is, the more an actor needs to keep vibrant his joy in interpreting this character.  I think Robin’s Stella will need this, too:  a keying up of the acting sense.  Freddy had it -- not freely enough in I, but excellent in III. Claris has it.  Willoughby takes stage with it brilliantly.

I believe you all have realized this fact, but I record it to be safe: never get so immersed in the intellectual content of Shaw that you forget he is frankly theatrical in his means of communication.

Wayne brings so much to Shaw or any drama, that it is difficult to analyze his problem.  He has the grasp of intellectual concept, and he has magnificent mental and physical vitality on stage; he participates fully in all action and on all levels.  he could identify with Higgins completely and he pursued an exceptionally clear line of thought and action.  Then what was the source of the problem which impeded him in the culminating action?  I think it may be this:  Wayne’s previous excellence has been in the field of character comedy.  Wayne was at his best in “Pygmalion” in the sequences in which the Higgins “eccentric” behavior was in opposition to the Higgins mind.  In the last scene the Higgins eccentricities are sloughed off and the mental brilliance prevails.  Wayne has not yet become at home in this realm of purely intellectual excitement.  part of him, as actor, still relies on qualities of physical and vocal characterization.  he is not yet completely at home onstage in drama in which he cannot play out reactions in behavior patterns -- which he does so well in comedy of character.  The fact that he played the final scene with such brilliance Tuesday night is indicative that he can do it.  Those of you who saw this Tuesday dress rehearsal of the final act, saw Shaw brilliantly performed.   It can happen again.

The purpose of these critiques is to point out needs, rather than to praise for what you know you have done well.  Our production gave our audiences great pleasure -- and the right sort of pleasure.  If we could keep “Pygmalion” in repertoire it would become brilliant -- consistently brilliant. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Directing Session II, C35
Faye Johnson


These are indicated by the theme of the play.  They should then be formulated exactly, with how they are manifested in behavior and how strong they are determined.  See if the actor can epitomize the drive of the character in one single identifyng act.

Basic needs are for the preservation of life: food, shelter, procreation.  As the simplest needs are satisfied, they can be intensified to a need such as greed, possessiveness; they can be sublimated to concern for the human race, a country, etc.  They can be perverted by murder, sexual perversion, etd.

In order ot understand the drivs of others, the actor must analyze his own.  They may not be crystalized as yet, they may be unconscious, but every moment of the day they are being formed.


Regina (from Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes) has a different relationship with each of her brothers.  She respects Ben’s greed, knows its strength, knows exactly how he will work: he is a worthy opponent.  She sees Oscar’s greed, has contempt for his behavior, and recognizes that his physical power is greater than his mental.  She despises her husband’s “weakness”: his tolerance, kindness and humanity.  She kills him when it gets in her way.  Zan scarcely exists for her until the end.  She is merely a thing to be used when necessary, etc.

All relationships are expressed through the eyes, sizing up, estimating, accepting, rejecting.  They are expressed through the mouth, through the spine and the walk: pulls toward, pulls away from, rejection, acceptance, indifference, escape from, escape to, etc., etc.

Can the actor epitomize these relationships in dance form?  In pantomimes?  In rhythms?  In song?  What tunes, what rhythms, would express Regina’s ruthless greed, Candida’s love, Marchbank’s poetic understanding?  (Shaw's Candida.)?  What music would best extpress the totality of character?  What beat?  3/4 time?  What kind of notes?:  quarter, half, whole, sixteenth?

The last step must sum up all characteristics as expressed in behavior patterns, behavior patterns which the theme of the play requires.

Have the actor improv alone in situations which require minor or major decisions in the development of behavior patterns which are daily, ordinary habits.

Then improv him with someone to show these traits active in relationship to others.


What elements have created the Scandinavian spine, the Polish, the German, the Italian, etc.  What has created the British shrug, the French, the Jewish?  In the small territory of the British Isles, what caused the Irish melody, the attitudes towards law, order, government, art, religion, morals?  What physical character behavior patterns have evolved?  Intellectual patterns?  Emotional?  What conflicts result?  What attiudes?  What character traits?  What beliefs?

Design improv situations which reveal national character traits.  Discover national traits through music, dance, poetry.  Improv situations in which dancing and signing are required.  What rhythms of movement evolve?  What spinal carriage?  What hand and shoulder gestures?  What do eyes and ears hear?  Results?  How do these people see their world?  What do they see?  How do they adapt?  Realize?

Fail to adapt?  Compromise?  Fight?  Escape? Effect on mind and emotions?  What behavior patterns result?  Physical and vocal?  Gutteral?  Lyric?  Nasal?  Soft?  Loud?  Speak in monosyllables?  Song?  Sentences?  Short?  Breathy?  Love language?  Disregard language?  Conservative?  Radical?  Indifferent?


Determine first the character of the period as to:  Politics, Morality, Ethics, Culture, Education, Uses of Leisure, Customs, Costumes, Transportation, Occupations for both men and women.  Standards of living, Class distinctions, Speech, Music, Dance.

Does your individual “go with” the period, escape it, “go against” it, fight, succumb, does he realize what it is in regard to the influences playing upon him?  Is he a realist?  Romantic?  does he mold his own form of behavior according to his own rules?  Is he a traditionalist?  A rebel?  A reactionary?  A pioneer?

What mental traits evolve as a result of the influences?  How are they expressed by voice, by acquired patterns of gesture?  If cigarettes were not in vogue, what was his pattern of nonchalance?

What physical patterns, rhythms, evolved from social customs?  from clothing?  from warfare?  from peace?  from occupations?

it might be wise first to characterize a man, a woman of the period.  Then do the individual man or woman in reaction to influences.

Improvise daily tasks of work, play, social situations, parties, fighting, etc.  Know the actor’s objective in each and lead into a situation in the drama.

Have the actor do the five minutes before the play opens, the time between habit patterns discovered in previous work.  Use dialogue.

Before the actor can be an individual in the situation created by the dramatist, he must be the individual who can be, will be, must be, involved in the action in the framework of the play.


Conflicts invariably arise from lack of money or too much money.  And there are resulting differences in mental, emotional and physical behavior patterns between the characters in the play.

Regina killed her husband.  Why?  greed.  She had money, more than enough.  Her father made a fortune by dishonorable means.  That money failed to put Regina in the position of the Southern aristocrats.  A drive to rise became intensified to a greed that destroys.  Visualization of her walk, her bearing, her eyes, her mouth, hearing her laugh; seeing the world with her eyes, eyes that sent Horace to his death --  These are the things an actor must be taught to do.

Awake and Sing (Odetts) shows a Jewish famiy caught in the middle of the depression.  From the young to the aged we see the effects on the family, on individuals, on famiy relationships, on ideals, on spines, on philosophies, on attitudes.  What does it mean to live at subsistence level?  If you had to spend all your energies on basic necessities -- food, a roof -- how would you look at, see, the man in the Cadillac or the woman in mink?  Would you escape in dreams?  Sublimate your hunger in religion?  Patriotism?  Compensate with aggressions, or remain passive?  rationalize?  reason? accept?  hate?  love?  destroy?  Leisure time: how does its use show economic conditioning?

Some “IFs”:  The character hears an evangelist declaring the end of the world is at hand. . .  In church a minister asks:  If you had only 24 hours to live, how would you spend that time?  What would Regina (any character) think?  do?

Have the actor write up the improv, telling what changes took place within the character and how behavior concealed or otherwise expressed the change.  Have him describe the rhythms of movement and speech that developed.

Have the actor find life studies of people in the same brackets as the character who have in the same manner adjusted, compensated, escaped, etc.  Have him study their behavior patterns, then assume them, play them, until vicariously he becomes them.  Carry everything over to the character.  Repeat, until he believes in it.

** All improvs should lead into a situation in the play.


Some inheritances could be beauty, ugliness, deformity, abnormality, mental patterns.  What social pressures occurred?  Results:  adjustment, aggression, sublimation, escape, compensation, etc.

What mental patterns were formed by the conflict between inherent traits and social pressures?  How expressed?  what emotional patterns?  how expressed?  What exterior behavior patterns?  What speech patterns?

Include here:  religious beliefs acquired from family, beliefs that may come in conflict with social pressures.  Consider family position or practice in conflict with changing conditions.

Design improvisations in which traits first came in conflict with society.  When did Cyrano first realize his nose was too large?  What happened to him?  What code of behavior prevailed?

Actor:  Avoid playing what you would feel: your environment may not be the same.  Discover what it is like to be someone else by bringing his basic traits in conflict with his world.

Friday, August 24, 2012

MATERIALS: John Dolman, Jr.

PURPOSE:  To give students some basic concept to refer to and discuss.
SOURCE:  “The Art of Acting” by John Dolman, Jr  (1949)

“There is hardly anyone who does not at some time in his life feel the impulse to project himself imaginatively into another character; to mimic some other person, real or imaginary or to masquerade as somebody or something that he is not.”
“There is nothing new or transitory about this impulse.  It is as old as the human race and is even more obvious in children and savages [sic] than in civilized adults.  It does not make everybody a good actor in the artistic sense; yet it must have some significance in relation to the nature of good acting, and to the nature of that universal appeal which good acting and good drama are known to have.”
“Our modern civilization and cutlure are after all relatively new in human history, and decidedly external and objective; that subjectively and emotionally we are much the same as our ancestors, and that the soundest art today is that which, beneath its apparent refinement, makes the most honest and most basic appeal to the real human beings.”

“Certainly (this) is ancient and universal, for it is observable not only in the youngest children and the most primitive man, but in other animals as well.”
“Biologically, imitation is an extremely important element in selective evaluation, for individuals possessing an imitative instinct naturally imitate their surviving elders -- whose traits are presumably conducive to survival, else they would not have survived -- so increase their own chances of survival.”
“To understand its significance as a motive in primitive acting, however, we must think of it not alone but in association with other motives.”

“It is commonly accepted that the origins of drama are to be found in religious observance.”
“The essential element in the religious motive is the supernatural, the transcendent, the otherworldly -- in short, the magic.”
“The function of acting in its religious association has always been . . to inspire, to elevate, to point to the gods.”
“Because the mimetic is the most vivid way of expressing thought or feeling it, was inevitably the way chosen to express primitive man’s most vivid thoughts and feelings, including his religious ones.  and because the vivid expression of the most vivid thoughts and feelings is the essence of drama, it is not surprising that drama has again and again grown out of religious mimetics in many ages and in many parts of the world.”

“The mimetic impulse is very early and very fundamentally associated with the impulse to inform, to convey messages and ideas, report facts, and perpetuate memories.

“The impulse to instruct and educate grows naturally out of the impulse to communicate or inform.”
“One of the most highly developed forms of mimicry among primitive peoples is that which has for its purpose the instruction of the young initiate in the religions, traditions, and social customs of his tribe.”

“Fantastic adornment involving totemic imitation, and especially in the form of masks, could hardly have existed very long before the idea of terrorization  become involved, to play a most important part in the development of the drama.”
“It served very effectively to solemnize the initiation ritual.”
“A second use . . . appeared in savage warfare.”
“. . . directed against enemy gods and evil spirits, who might b supporting human enemies by threatening in their own right.”

“. . .Through emotional intoxication -- sometimes assisted, perhaps, by intoxication of another sort.  By dressing in his war harness, and mimicking the actions of fighting, dancing, shouting, and boasting, the savage got himself into such a state of emotional fervor that he felt much braver and stronger than he really was; and in that state of illusion he went into battle.”

“Possibly more human beings, past and present, have employed mimicry for the fun of it than for any other reason.”
“Yet it is a curious fact that entertainment seems always to have been a second rather than a primary motive, arrived at more or less by accident.”
“The play impulse arose from two things: leisure time and freedom from the pressure of fear and necessity.”
“Two elements deserve special mention. . . the first of these is the element of release . . .the element. . . at the rest of the festive or holiday spirit everywhere . . . The second element is that of vicarious experience.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012


(Chorus before Act IV)
Now entertain conjecture of a time
When creeping murmur and the pouring dark
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp, through the foul womb of night
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fix’d sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other’s watch:
Fire answers fire, and through their paley flames
Each battle sees the other’s umber’d face:
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night’s dull ear; and from the tents,
The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.


Freedom from strain.
Freedom from phoniness.
Freedom from unclarity.
Freedom from jerkiness or false rhythm
Freedom from monotony.

Relax and breathe properly.’
Sustain vowels and n, m, ng,l.
No glottal shock before words beginning with vowels -- elides instead.
In back of each consonant enough pressure to get out strongly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

B43 EXAM 2nd quarter

B43 - 2  Sec. I

1.  Define it.
2.  Purpose in the study of acting
3.  List the basic principles which make its presentation successful.
4.  With relation to these basic principles, rate the work of one person who has appeared in the fantasy finals.

1.  List its four basic attributes.
(Visualization, Internalization, Assimilation, Belief)
2.  Discuss the work of one leading character in the following productions in terms of the application or failure to apply these principles:   The Visit, Wild Strawberries, The Magician, Commedia dell Arte: Love of One Captain.

1.  State its objective in an actor’s program of study
2.  Define, or explain, briefly, subtext.
3.  With relation to subtext, discuss the vicariious experience finals of one of the following:
  Kovarra, Shanks, Tucker.


B43-1   Sec. 20

In explaining the following statements, use examples of acting you have seen in U.T., W.T. or the commercial theatre.  Be explicit in your analysis of this acting.

1.  “Acting is re-acting.”
2.  “an actor acts with all that he is as a person.”
3.  “Acting is presenting character through behavior patterns which illuminate the character in given situations.”

With regard to an attempt to use sense memory in an acting assignment, a student says:  “I could recall the hurt and disappointment I suffered.  However, I could not recall the incident.”  What would be your advice to this actor?



I.  Next quarter we study the creative aspect of acting.  Discuss our work this quarter as preparation for the creative process.

II.  Discuss this quarter’s work as preparation for character study.

III.  Criticize constructively, in terms of stimulus-response the work of one person in U.T. (University Theatre) or W.T. (Workshop Theatre) productions.

In preparation for the “vicarious” assignment, select a novel (or biography) which is of high order in portrayal and development of character.
EXAMPLES:  Doctor Zhivago, Madame Bovary, Grapes of Wrath, Brothers Karamozov, Anna Karenina, Of Human Bondage.

If possible, get it approved before the holidays and start reading it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A B43-3 EXAM JUNE, 1960

I. Explain, discuss, illustrate this basic principle:
You must imagine some basis for the words given as a justification for saying them.  You must moreover make for yourself a clear picture of what your imagination suggests. . . You hae to invent a whole film of inner pictures, a running subtext consisting of settings and circumstances against which the words given you can be played out.   This is not done for the sake of realism per se, but because it is necessary for our own creative natures.  For them we must have truth, if only the truth of the imagination, in which they can believe.”  (Be sure you have dealt with every emphasized idea.)

II.  Explain and give a specific remedy for:

1.  Acting an emotion.
2.  Playing an attitude

III.  Explain and illustrate these principles.

1.  See to it that the object of your attention (the person addressed) not only hears and understands the meaning of your words, but that he also sees what you see in his mind’s eye while you are speaking to him. . . action -- real productive action -- is the result.

2.  The lines of a part soon wear out from repetition.  But the visual images on the contrary become stronger and more extensive the oftener they are repeated.  Imagination (creative, not dreaming) does not rest; it forever adds new touches to fill out and enliven this inner moving picture film.

3.  The establishment of this habit requires long and systematic work.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Drama IS transfer.  One character plays upon another, his emotion transfers to another, changes another.  A factor of environment plays upon a person or upon a people -- they change:  they are exhilarated, depressed, made belligerent, passive, etc.  Human forces play upon each other -- natural forces play upon human equalling drama.  Minds play upon each other: irritate, inspire, defeat, control.  Joan wins the support of the Squire, the Dauphine -- how?  Transfers.  Iago destroys Othello -- how: planting of ideas, transfers.
2 people: A and B.
Create situations in which A is angry, jealous, depressed, afraid, happy, indignant.  B is uninvolved or is rational, or passive, logical.  One plays upon the other until A’s emotion has transferred to B or B’s balance has prevailed over A’s passion.  A must have cause for the emotion: the motivation that drives him to express it must be strong, the situation must be real, set up the physical elements of the situation, use the properties required.  Remember that emotion is total response of the physical organism.  Emotion is physical, it is communicated through physical activity or lack of activity.  And there is no communication, no transfer completed until eyes have met.
For instance:  A, an actor, is jealous of the success of another actor, C.  He wants to infect B with the same jealousy -- the scene is the dressing room after a rehearsal.  B is seated, looking the mirror, ready to take off make-up.  He studies his eyebrow line, wonders if he should narrow it tomorrow night.  A comes in slowly, too slowly, walks to his chair, stands there looking at B as though thinking, “How can you be so calm?”  B sees him in the mirror, grins, says “good show” while he squints at his eyebrow.  A drops into his chair, just sits, dully says,  “What do you mean, good show?”  Etc.  Play it to the climax when B has to say “you’re crazy” and walk out, or he too wants to destroy C.
A is indignant with a commonly expressed idea that all theatre students are neurotics.  B hasn’t even thought of such an idea -- doesn’t know it exists.  They are having coffee in The Grill.  A obviously changes his position at the table, turning his back on a group he has been facing.  B -- sugaring his coffee, says, “Light bother you?” -- etc.
Learn what transfers are.
How they happen.
Play moment by moment.
Play to each other in response to each other.
Reconize climaxes -- the exact moment of transfer, of change.
When are words inevitable.
When are they unnecessary.
Most transfers occur during arrests (SLAP), they follow a success of realizations: idea, go home, are accepted, rejected, discarded, laughed at -- they hurt, please, etc.