“ACTING -- A STUDY OF LIFE”
These six films feature Alvina Krause, Professor Emeritus of Northwestern University, and students from Yankton College and the University of South Dakota. Each half-hour film includes an introduction and close by Charlton Heston, one of her former pupils. His remarks are a great tribute to a great teacher, who, in the process of teaching the creative art of acting, has constantly explored the “why” of things, life’s astonishment and wonder, and what it means to be a total human being. Such searching goes into the study of his role, and makes for fascinating enrichment for the interested viewer as well as the serious student of the arts.
In applying for a grant, Vera Ward, producer, wrote to Charlotte Carver, executive secretary of the South Dakota Fine Arts Council saying, “I wish every young person might be privileged to watch every tape of Miss Krause. She speaks to the eternal questions of life -- loneliness, alienation, despair as well as astonishment, discovery and joy. All these conditions of living in this “now” world have been explored by great playwrights, and must be probed by the sensitive actor to communicate with his fellow man.”
These videotapes were produced by Forward Productions, Vera War, producer, in cooperation with the drama departments of Yankton College and the University of South Dakota. They were taped in the studios of KUSD-TV, and are now available on 16mm sound film (black and white) from the USD media Center. The South Dakota Fine Arts Council made a matching grant available for this project. Dr. E. Phelps directed the pilot tape, and Tom Engeman directed the remaining five.
Also available are two 1/2 hour interviews of Alvina Krause by Marjorie Weeks, special interviewer for KUSD Radio. These Audio tapes are on 7” reels and are an excellent in-depth profile of Alvina Krause. Used on KUSD Radio, these interviews would be an excellent introduction to Alvina Krause as a warm human being and concerned talented teacher -- an excellent preparation for the viewing of the 6 visual films.
Following is a brief idea of the contents of each film, using direct quotes from Miss Krause during her workshop sessions.
I. “CREATING A CHARACTER” -- cuts from Shakespearean plays
“Character is all that you are from the day you were born up to this moment.”
“Don’t you dare try to create a character without knowing what is the past of that person!”
“You can be wicked and good at the same time.”
“Theatre, if it’s real, stretches as far as the far horizons, and goes as deep as the human heart.”
“Emotion is cheap. Acting is a creative art; the actor is a creative agent.”
II. SHAKESPEARE -- students from Yankton College and the University of South Dakota gathered around this great teacher.
“Shakespeare . . .An age of astonishment”
“The Elizabethans -- they ran forth to meet life.”
“This was an age of total man . . . universal man.”
Miss Krause recreates the feeling of the Age: the anticipation of the senses, the robust joy of living.
III. CONTEMPORARY DRAMA Part I
“The actor responds to his environment.”
“The actor must say, “I am a man and as a man, nothing in man is alien to me.”
“The actor must create the world in which people live and respond to it.”
Miss Krause works with scenes from “Desire Under the Elms” and “The Subject Was Roses.”
IV. CONTEMPORARY DRAMA Part II “Drama of the Absurd”
“Acting begins with an “if.” If I believe God is dead, how would I act?”
“Dead silence -- that’s your Modern Drama !”
Scenes are used from “Waiting for Godot.”
V. OUTER TECHNIQUES OF COMMUNICATION: Techniques of voice and diction, articulation, projection, pointing, timing, topping.
“Acting is life intensified.”
“Any drama is a game -- sometimes ping-pong, volley ball, chess. . .”
“Technique should be worked on daily and you must master the outer techniques before you go into a play.”
“Talent is the ability to work endlessly, tirelessly, until one has mastered the craft.”
VI. ANTIGONE Miss Krause directs, cajoles, even taunts the two students playing Antigone and Creon in a scene from Jean Anouilh’s “Antigone.” She helps them fully understand the setting and the drama of this confrontation between the powerless Antigone and the powerful Creon who threatens death to the young girl.
These recordings are available on DVD from Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.