April 11, 2014 - 5 Comments;

The Actor Is What We See, But Only 1/8 Of What Is There

Two earlier versions of this post were published in 2010 and 2012. Several colleagues asked me to re-post it, so here it is.

When I work with individuals or groups on ways Theatrical Intelligence can make a difference in their lives, my goal is to stimulate an exploration into their creative core.

The term Theatrical Intelligence evokes responses such as: ”Yes! It’ll help me when I have to give a presentation” to “Not my kind of thing – don’t like being in the spotlight” or “No way. Acting? Yuck!” There is an assumption that Theatrical Intelligence = Actor.

What we see

In a theatrical production model, the Actor is what we see, but only 1/8 of what is there. She/he wouldn’t be on the stage if it weren’t for the Writer, Producer, Director, Designer, Manager, Technician and Critic. The talent and skill contained in each of these roles is interdependent, and without them, the Actor wouldn’t be seen at all!

What's Really There

What’s Really There

Creative collaboration requires that each person within a group takes on his/her most comfortable role, and everyone contributes to the creative potential of the collective. It is built on the premise that all collaborators’ talents and skills complement one another. In other words if I don’t have a particular strength, one of my cohorts will.

Recently I worked with a young woman who told me “I don’t have one creative bone in my body. It’s just the way I’ve always been and I’m fine with it.” She was politely annoyed that I didn’t accept her “non-creativity”. What became abundantly clear during a quick writing exercise, is that she was a born technician (the only one who could get the electronic hook-up to work); and a gifted manager (she organised a group photo while keeping large egos satisfied, and everyone ended up grateful that she was there).

When I pointed out her strengths in those roles, she explained “But that’s the easy stuff!” which gave us our biggest laugh of the day. Everyone admitted their techno-ignorance, impatience with managing differing personalities; the combination of her geeky-gift and people-management-savvy was something they longed for in their employees.

The talented young Technician/Manager took all this in, and with just the hint of a grin, said: “Well, maybe I have a couple of creative bones…” 

Understanding her Theatrical Intelligence that day, she fully experienced “the fun part of being smart”. Yes, it was easy. And the smartness was all her own.

What’s “the easy stuff” for you? How much do you use it every day? Are you giving it the respect it deserves? 

 

March 27, 2014 - 1 Comment

Falling In Love With A Theatre

This article is revised from our Studio Newsletter archives in honor of World Theatre Day.

World Theatre Day

What makes someone fall in love with a theatre? I asked a bunch of theatrical colleagues to name a theatre that they love and say why they love it. Here are some responses:

“There are so many! But the one that comes to mind is THE GUTHRIE when it was being built and I was going to be playing Hamlet in the inaugural production. Tony [Tyrone Guthrie] and I walked into what felt like Yankee Stadium and I was terrified. How was I going to fill that space? Then when we walked down onto the stage, suddenly it was only half as big, and I did manage to fill it; over the years it was as if I was playing a dearly beloved instrument.” George Grizzard, Actor

“GLYNDEBOURNE, the famous Opera House in England. My husband and I had a private tour, and I stood on the stage alone and sang into the empty theater. The acoustics were incredible – I got the chills hearing my voice ring out like that… it sparked my imagination!”
 Melora Hardin, Actress

“THE MUSIC BOX, on Broadway. It’s a theatre of reasonable size and seating capacity, yet it manages to feel intimate. Rounded boxes flanking the proscenium are a particularly pleasing feature. It is a theatre that really helps the director.”
  Ed Sherin, Director

“IL TEATRO PIU’ TEATRO PICCOLO DEL MONDO (“the smallest theater in the world”) in Umbria. What a gem! It was built in the early 1800s by the families of Monte Castello di Vibio who wanted a place for social gatherings. The mindset at the time was of concordia tra i popoli (concordance between the populations) so the theatre was named Teatro Concordia. It is a space with perfect proportions; a space where you can feel the history of elegant and probably melodramatic performances in that tiny town.” Marianna Houston, Theatre Educator

“I love various parts of many Broadway theatres: the Tiffany stained glass fixtures and wood paneling of the BELASCO THEATRE; the inner lobby of the MAJESTIC and its grand house; the ingenious combination of new and old to combine two theatres into one dazzling space as the HILTON THEATRE [ed: now the FOXWOODS]. And I want to add another gem of a building Off-Broadway, the WESTSIDE THEATRE’s building, lobby and interiors are remarkably beautiful.” Bob Reilly, Company Manager

“THE VIGSZINHAS (Vigszínház) THEATRE in Budapest, Hungary – a magnificent 19th-century horseshoe shaped house with four or five balcony tiers. The stagehouse was completely re-built, and the stage is so deep – it covers a whole city block – with the loading door smack in the middle. For Six Characters In Search of an Author the city agreed to close off the street to traffic every night one half hour before the performance, so the audience saw the cast enter from the city beyond. That 19th century magic was made possible by the 21st century rehab.”
 Peter Frisch, Director

“THE BARTER THEATRE in Abingdon Virginia because it’s where I fell in love with my husband of 50 years! Barter inherited the seats and the curtain from the old EMPIRE THEATRE on Broadway, which gave it a certain mystique, and by the way, probably fostered more romances than any other theatre in America!”
 Diane Hardin, Acting Teacher/Coach

“I love lots and lots of theatres. At the moment I love the McCARTER in Princeton because Emily Mann and everyone there is so wonderful and willing to do anything I ask.” Eugene Lee, Scenic Designer

What is YOUR favorite theatre? Please share it!

 

October 31, 2013 - No Comments

My Daily Brain-Food Addiction

Brain Food

About a year ago I began posting a daily quote on Twitter, selected from my eclectic collection and using the hashtags  #TheatricalIntelligence or #WomanofWisdom: 

#TheatricalIntelligence: “I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” Meryl Streep

#WomanofWisdom: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” Maya Angelou  

My Twitter followers enjoyed the quotes. (Some even suggested that I publish them in a “little book series”. Go figure.) Then six months ago on this blog, I shared a series of quotations in categories:  Actors on Acting, A Life in the Arts, On Critics, Criticism and Reading Reviews, among others. 

The tricky part on Twitter, of course, is that one post = 140 characters including the hashtag. So I found myself scavenging for more and more inspiring quotes that were short.

#TheatricalIntelligence: “What I love about theatre is that it disappears as it happens.” Lusia Strus (= 104) 

#WomanOfWisdom: “I believe the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” Hilary Clinton (= 124)

Then LinkedIn mimicked Twitter’s hashtag idea, and their posts can be longer so my quotes g-r-e-w, as did their hashtags:

#TheatricalNostalgia, #TheatricalWonder, #TheatricalWisdom, #ArtisticWisdom, #LiteraryWisdom, #WorthConsidering, #WorthRemembering, #LetsDoThis and #PoliticalPoetry. Yikes.

Daily posting became addictive. I began to feel like my friends who never miss the daily NYTimes crossword puzzle, or others who are deeply committed to “Words With Friends” or (what I take to be its visual equivalent) “Candy Crush”

My daily brain food, I’ve concluded, works for me because the words have such meaning when they’re strung together, that I remember them.  I simply love each one of them because they inspire me.   

Brainfood

Is this addiction a terrible thing? How long will it take me to kick the habit? Do I HAVE to? Help!

September 9, 2013 - 5 Comments;

ON LOVE

Love-in-sandI’ve been thinking a lot about love. 

It may be an age thing. I’m in my mid-60s and loving it, my husband Roger and I just celebrated our 43rd anniversary, and our love for each other and our work has grown exponentially over the decades. When we were blessed with grandchildren 3 and 5 years ago, I thought the level of love in our family might actually burst. It didn’t, of course. In fact, it has expanded into a three-generation-love-fest.

And everywhere I look these days, I see love. 

Can it be that love really belongs in this theatrical quotations series?  Absolutely. Why? Because for those of us who spend our lives in the theatre, a passionate love of what we do is the common denominator within the  Six Principles of Theatrical Intelligence.

Let’s take a moment to review those principles, based on the theatrical production model (as is the whole concept of Theatrical Intelligence).

1. Collaborating on a project to make it work for everyone, is number one: EVERYONE SHARES THE SAME GOAL.

2. If the show is a bust, if tickets don’t sell, no one gets paid. That’s the reality: EVERYONE SHARES AN EQUIVALENT RISK.

3. If a play is sustainable, its next steps are defined within the 3rd principle: COLLABORATION RULES.

4. Given: throughout every phase of every project, THE WORK MATTERS.

5. If part of a production’s infrastructure isn’t working (often the case) everyone understands that FAILURE IS YOUR FRIEND AND THE QUICKEST WAY TO LEARN.

6. And finally, a reflection of the commitment to innovation and acceptance of high risk: SUCCESS COMES WITH THE COURAGE TO STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN.

Those who work consistently in the professional theatre simply love what they do; if they didn’t, the ever-changing conditions of the creation, development, rehearsal and run of a show, would be intolerable.

I’ve chosen my favorite quotes on love from my collection. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 

zelda-balletZelda Fitzgerald (1900 – 1948)
 
 “Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”

 

Zora Neale Hurston, Class of 1928, Chicago, Ill., November 9, 1934Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960)
 
“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

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NerudaPablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) née Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto
 
“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”
(From TWENTY LOVE POEMS AND A SONG OF DESPAIR) 

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Shel Larry Moyer Shel Silverstein (1930 – 1999)
 
How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ‘em.
How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ‘em.

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George EliotGeorge Eliot (1819 – 1880) Née Mary Ann (Marian) Evans

“I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.”

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Nelle Harper LeeHarper Lee (Born 1926) 
 
“With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable.”
(From TO KILL  MOCKINGBIRD, Chapter 12)

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Jarod KintzJarod Kintz (Born 1982)
 
 “With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day, so you can see what you meant to me.
”

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Dorothy ParkerDorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)
 
“By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Infinite, undying.
Lady make a note of this –
One of you is lying.”

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Ingrid BergmanIngrid Bergman (1915 – 1982)
 
“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”  
 

If you’d like to share your favorites, please do. This love thing is positively contagious. Let’s keep it going.

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Picture Credits
Fitzgerald: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
Hurston: The Estate of Zora Neale Hurston
Neruda: Pablo Neruda – Poemas Originais Traduzidos
Silverstein: Larry Moyer/Evil Eye LLC
Eliot: London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images
Lee: The Birmingham News
Kintz: Jarod Kintz.com
Parker: DorothyParker.com
Bergman: LIFE Magazine
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August 30, 2013 - 5 Comments;

On CRITICS, CRITICISM and READING REVIEWS

 
critics-corner-promo-01-4_3

The definition of the word CRITIC, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, seems simple and sensible. To me, however, it’s the most complicated of the 8 roles of Theatrical Intelligence.

CRITIC:  from the Greek κριτικός (kri-ti-kós), Latin criticus (noun) “able to discern”.
1: one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique
2: one who engages often professionally in the analysis, evaluation, or appreciation of works of art or artistic performances
3: one given to harsh or captious judgment
 
CRITICISM: ˈkri-tə-ˌsi-zə(noun) the art of evaluating or analyzing works of art or literature:
1. expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes: “he ignored the criticisms of his friends”.
2. analysis and judgment of a literary or artistic work: “methods of criticism supported by literary theories”.

When I speak about the roles of Theatrical Intelligence, I always introduce the Critic last. Why?  It’s the final role in the collaborative sequence, and… well, I want to delay the inevitable groans: “No-o-o! How could you? Critics? What do they know?!”   

It’s tricky to think of critics as part of the collaborative art form that is the theatre. They are in a position to champion or kill a play, a performance, or an entire production. They don’t work directly with the other 7 roles, so it doesn’t feel like collaborators. But they are. In fact (depending on the phase of development) their objectivity is essential to the success of the project. 

Many years ago when I worked as an actor, I remembered every bad review I ever received. Verbatim. Everyone did. It seemed to be an occupational hazard to remember the awful ones and forget the raves. My theory for this (and I’m not alone) is that no one can be as harsh a critic about me as I am about myself, so whatever is written by a critic is already imprinted on my brain.

Once, a notoriously mean-spirited critic compared a performance of mine to an electric blender. Yes, you read that right. My friends thought it was a hilarious achievement and therefore a wonderful notice, but I thought I’d never get over it. 

Recently I decided to re-read my theatrical notices, figuring that 20 years would give me enough distance to gain some objectivity. It did. I admit that the blender paragraph still stung a bit, but most revealing was that I had no memory of the good reviews. It was as if  I was reading love letters that I’d never received, yet I knew I’d read every one of them. Selective amnesia. A theatrical phenomenon.

The insightful quotations below are from ten stellar theatre critics who reflect on their profession:  

Brooks AtkinsonBrooks Atkinson (1894 – 1984)

1. “There is no joy so great as that of reporting that a good play has come to town.”

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Pauline Kael (Chris Carroll)Pauline Kael (1919 – 2001)

2. “In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising.”

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Walter KerrWalter Kerr (1919 – 1996)

3. “It is not a reviewer’s business to “sell” plays, but surely it is a playwright’s business not to write plays in such a way that the barest, most gingerly mention of the plot material in a review will kill the play dead on the spot.”

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KennethTynanKenneth Tynan (1927 – 1980)

4. “A good drama critic is one who perceives what is happening in the theatre of his time. A great drama critic also perceives what is not happening.

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Wendy RosenfieldWendy Rosenfield  (Born 1969)

5. “I don’t believe arts criticism is itself art. But that doesn’t mean it is without its own merits… criticism (and even reviews, if you choose to make that distinction) offers a record of how our civilization responded to the arts. Theater critics are not theater artists, but we are recorded proof that theater mattered, and for me, that’s more than enough.”

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Jason Zinoman 2Jason Zinoman (Born 1975)

6. “To be a good critic, you need to hustle and be curious and scrap and think harder in a short period of time than anyone else about these plays. You need to be stubborn in your convictions and firm in the idea that the crowd is not always right.”

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Robert HurwittRobert Hurwitt (Born 1942)

7. I subscribe strongly to the idea that all criticism should be constructive. You’re not in the business of tearing people down. Part of your responsibility as a critic is being a consumer advocate. You have to make judgments as to whether a show is something people want to spend their money on.”

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Oscar WildeOscar Wilde (1854 –1900)

8. “The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.”

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Andy WarholAndy Warhol (1928 – 1987)

9. “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.”

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Frank RichFrank Rich (Born 1949)

10. “The most wonderful street in the universe is Broadway. It is a world within itself. High and low, rich and poor, pass along at a rate peculiar to New York, and positively bewildering to a stranger.” 

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These critics are collaborators. And I think I may just love every one of them.

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Photo Credits: Thumbs Up/Down: USA Today Design; Atkinson:ONB/Wein; Kael: Chris Carroll; Kerr: The New York Times; Tynan: Stuart Heydinger/The Observer; Rosenfield: Ms. Rosenfield;  Hurwitt: San Francisco Chronicle; Zinoman: Splitsider; Wilde: Napoleon Sarony; Warhol: Susan Greenwood/Getty Images; Rich: CNBC

 

July 29, 2013 - 5 Comments;

On Creativity

CreativityWhat IS creativity, anyway?

I’ve been thinking about this question recently, probably because I’m in one of those why-is-it-so-bleeping-hard-to-create-phases. Though my trusty quotes collection has more words on creativity than any other topic, it’s a puzzler. 

According to Albert Einstein, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” which sounds as if  you have to know the right people in order to catch it.

When collaborators have told me I’m creative (much appreciated, by the way) they seem to use a lot of “i” words: imagination, ingenuity, inventiveness, inspiration, innovation… To me, it sounds hifalutin and mysterious.

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: kri·eɪ’tɪɪ·t̬i: noun / 
Ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, whether a new solution
to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form.

Yikes. Apparently it also has to be new!

The quotes below ring true to me when the creativity flows… and (sigh) when it stops:

1. “The creative impulse can be killed, but it cannot be taught. What a teacher can do… in working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I’m concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations.” 

Madeleine L'EngleMadeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)

 

2. “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”

Marc ChagallMarc Chagall (1887-1985) 

 

3. “Learn the craft of knowing how to open your heart and to turn on your creativity. There’s a light inside of you.

Judith JamisonJudith Jamison (Born 1943)

 

4. “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”

Headshot Of Spanish Artist Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso (1881-1973)

 

5. “To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”

Clarissa Pinkola EstesClarissa Pinkola Estés (Born 1945)

 

6. “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” 

John CleeseJohn Cleese (Born 1939)

 

7. “Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.”

Annie DillardAnnie Dillard (Born 1945)

 

8. “ ‘Keeping busy’ is the remedy for all the ills in America. It’s also the means by which the creative impulse is destroyed.”

Joyce Carol OatesJoyce Carol Oates (Born 1938)

 

9. “Decision by democratic majority vote is a fine form of government, but it’s a stinking way to create.”

Lillian HellmanLillian Hellman (1905-1984)

 

And last, one of my very favorite quotes in the world…

10. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou Maya Angelou (Born 1928)

 

PHOTO CREDITS:
Angelou: Dr. Maya Angelou
Chagall: Russian Paintings Gallery
Cleese:  Albert L. Ortega
Dillard: Phyllis Rose
L’Engle: George M. Gutierrez
Pinkola Estés: Getty Images
Hellman: Bernard Gotfryd
Jamison: Andrew Eccles
Oates: Agencia EFE/Rex Features
Picasso: Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images
 
 

July 15, 2013 - 13 Comments;

A Life In The Arts

 
What does it mean to spend one’s life in the arts? Whether you’re a painter, a poet, a composer or a choreographer, your day-to-day reality begs comparison with others. A dozen world-class artists provide a sampler of experience: 
 

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya-AngelouMaya Angelou (Born 1928)

 

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

PicassoPablo Picasso (1881–1973)

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”

Twyla TharpTwyla Tharp (Born 1941)

 

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”

SondheimStephen Sondheim (Born 1930)

 

“If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.”

MorrisonToni Morrison (Born 1931)

 

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

EinsteinAlbert Einstein (1879-1955)

 

“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.”

AdlerStella Adler (1901-1992)

 

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” 

Alexander WoollcottAlexander Woollcott (1887-1943)

 

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

Henri Cartier-BressonHenri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

 

“You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older.” 

Lillian Gish-1983Lillian Gish (1893–1993)

 

“The good die young, but not always. The wicked prevail but not consistently. I am confused by life, and I feel safe within the confines of the theatre”

Helen HayesHelen Hayes (1900-1993)

 

“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”

Woody Allen CUWoody Allen (Born 1935)

 

Photo Credits: Adler: Irene Gilbert; Allen: Terry Richardson; Angelou: Brian Lanker/Little Brown; Cartier-Bresson: Jane Bown; Einstein: Yousef Karsh; Gish: Getty Images; Hayes: Richard Avedon; Morrison: Princeton University; Picasso: Arnold Newman/Howard Greenberg Gallery; Tharp: Chester Higgins/The New York Times; Wilder: Gisele Freund; Woollcott: The New York Times Photo Archives
 

July 7, 2013 - 5 Comments;

DIRECTORS SPEAK

To survive, theatre artists must be really good at what they do, though sometimes they’re not-so-good at speaking about what they do. These directors are superb at both.

“Truth in theatre is always on the move. As you read this book [The Empty Space] it is already moving out of date. It is for me an exercise, now frozen on the page. But unlike a book, the theatre has one special characteristic. It is always possible to start again. In life this is myth, we ourselves can never go back on anything. New leaves never turn, clocks never go back, we can never have a second chance. In the theatre, the slate is wiped clean all the time.”

Peter Brook by Colm HoganPeter Brook (Born 1925)

I love it when people say ‘What a horrible, lousy idea.’ I think that’s great… I hate the comfort zone. I don’t think that anything that’s really creative can be done without danger and risk.”

Julie TaymorJulie Taymor (Born 1952)

 

“I never think about putting my stamp on anything… If someone watches a play and they don’t see the hand of the director in it, if it’s seamless and seems effortless, then I will have achieved what I’m after.”

Kenny LeonKenny Leon (Born 1956)

 

“Bob Fosse told me if you open a musical script and there’s more than a page or a page-and-a-half of text, you better tear off the paper there and stick in a number, because that’s as long as people want to wait before you show them something.”

Graciela DanieleGraciela Daniele (Born 1939) 

 

“The simple idea is that the theater is a medium… We need new theatrical forms, we need new ways of expressing our ideas. We still have so much work to do in trying to freely figure out how theater speaks, so, to me, this play [33 Variations] is an exercise in that. It’s a play with music, it’s a play with dancing, it’s a play with singing, it’s a play with video… It really tries to redefine how the theatrical space is used.”

Moises KaufmanMoisés Kaufman (Born 1963)  

 

“I think in our culture there’s been a tendency for people to blame the audience. There is a tendency in our industry to say, ‘The audience has left the building. People don’t want culture anymore. We’re a depraved civilization. All this technology, all the computer games and the iPhones… nobody will sit for art anymore. What a dismaying state of humanity.’ I feel as a theater creator, and now as a producer, that this is the wrong way to think about it. We must ask: What are we doing? How are we responsible? How can we create experiences that will bring audiences back?”

Tony Watch Diane PaulusDiane Paulus (Born 1966)

 

“The only difference between a play and a musical is that there are more parts to a musical, more things for a director to concern himself or herself with. There is no mystique in directing a musical. The essential task is the same: telling a story that will transport an audience to a place that is hopefully, religious.”

jerryJerry Zaks (Born 1946)

“I’ve always noticed how the men in orchestras struggle with tails … It’s a lot of clothing, and it’s quite constricting, and it can get hot. And for the women, it’s hard for them to know what to wear. I was thinking, ‘Where are we headed with an orchestra in the 21st century?’ I don’t want to change the music, but the trappings? We’re wearing the same clothes we were wearing 200 years ago. It might be time for an update.”

Marin AlsopMarin Alsop (Born 1956)

 

“For me, the challenge is to make the stage a forum that allows universal themes to shine and refract through the humanity of my cultural lenses. That, I believe, does more than several hundred pieces of race-relations legislation. It makes us all part of the human family. Equally. That’s political!”

Kwame Kwei-ArmahKwame Kwei-Armah (Born 1967)

 

“On the director’s role: You are the obstetrician. You are not the parent of this child we call the play. You are present at its birth for clinical reasons, like a doctor or midwife. Your job most of the time is simply to do no harm. When something does go wrong, however, your awareness that something is awry – and your clinical intervention to correct it – can determine whether the child will thrive or suffer, live or die.”

Frank HauserFrank Hauser (1922 – 2007)

 
Photo Credits: Alsop: Grant Leighton; Brook: Colm Hogan; Daniele: Joseph Marzullo/Retna; Hauser: Oxford Playhouse; Kaufman: James Edstrom; Kwei-Armah: Matt Roth/The New York Times; Leon: PR-Web; Paulus: Susan Lapides; Taymor: papptimi/Fidelio; Zaks: Cartazes e Fotografias

June 26, 2013 - No Comments

Words. Words. Words: Actors On Acting

The Theatrical Quotations series continues with 10 world class performers…

“Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare. The whole essence of learning lines is to forget them so you can make them sound like you thought of them that instant.”

Glenda JacksonGlenda Jackson (Born 1936) 

 

“…by the time I got to Michigan I was a stutterer. I couldn’t talk. So my first year of school was my first mute year and then those mute years continued until I got to high school... One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”

James Earl JonesJames Earl Jones (Born 1931

 

“I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.

meryl-streepMeryl Streep  (Born 1949)  

 

“Comedy is all I ever wanted. I can never tell when something is funny… I just have to do it onstage and find out.”

Margaret ChoMargaret Cho (Born 1968)


For an actress to be a success she must have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros.”

Ethel BarrymoreEthel Barrymore (1879 – 1959)

 

“I can’t deal with actors! I can’t deal with myself. We’re neurotic and miserable… I love doing what I’m doing, but while I’m doing it, I’m miserable.” 

Viola DavisViola Davis (Born 1965) 

 

“I knew at an early age I wanted to act – acting was always easy for me. Once you’ve gotten the job, there’s nothing to it… Doing it is not the hard part. The hard part is getting to do it.”  

Morgan FreemanMorgan Freeman (Born 1937)

 

“The thing about performance, even if it’s only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.”

Daniel Day LewisDaniel Day Lewis (Born 1957)

 

“Ossie was working as stage manager and he began making notes. Something about the sense of humor instilled in Eastern European Jewish culture appealed to him. The message was profound but the delivery was hilarious. Through that he saw that humor could turn racism on its ear, too.”

Ruby DeeRuby Dee (Born 1924)

 

 

“An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow.”

Edwin BoothEdwin Booth (1893 – 1933)

 Booth may have borrowed this phrase from his friend Lawrence Barrett.

 

PHOTO CREDITS: Barrymore: University of Kentucky Photographic Collection, Booth: Public Domain, Cho: Jamie McCarthy/Getty, Davis: Michael Beckner/Getty, Day Lewis: Indigo/Getty, Dee: Frederick M. Brown/Getty, Freeman: The Ace Black Blog, Jackson: Courtesy of Glenda Jackson MP, House of Commons, Jones: Stathis Orphanos, Streep: Cathal McNaughton, 
 

June 15, 2013 - 2 Comments;

Words. Words. Words: Playwrights On Playwrighting

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Thanks, Theatrical Intelligence readers, for your responses to Words. Words. Words: 10 Beloved Quotations.
 
Your comments on Twitter, Facebook, and here on the blog (those I love the most!) have been the catalyst for this second round.  So, I hereby launch an ongoing series of theatrical quotations from my collection.

Jean KerrJean Kerr (July 10, 1922 – January 5, 2003)

”I think if you can write a play, or produce a play, the first step toward success [is] if people don’t want to kill themselves in the lobby. Now there must be four or five other steps, but that’s the first.”

 

Suzan-Lori ParksSuzan-Lori Parks (Born May 10, 1963)

“People ask me when I decided to become a playwright; I tell them I decide to do it every day. Most days it’s very hard because I’m frightened — not frightened of writing a bad play, although that happens often with me. I’m frightened of encountering the wilderness of my own spirit, which is always, no matter how many plays I write, a new and uncharted place. Every day when I sit down to write, I can’t remember how it’s done.”

 

Wendy by Retna LtdWendy Wasserstein (October 18, 1950 – January 30, 2006)

“The trick… is to find the balance between the bright colors of humor and the serious issues of identity, self-loathing, and the possibility for intimacy and love when it seems no longer possible or, sadder yet, no longer necessary.”

 

 Tina HoweTina Howe (Born November 21, 1937)

“…the cruel part is that, to let the play live, you have to surrender control and let your characters go. You have to let them stumble, fall into walls and be mute, let them drift and be lost. If you hold the reins too tight, they won’t spring to life.”

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Kushner-ReutersTony Kushner (Born July 16, 1956)

“I love reading; it’s a great way to avoid writing.” 

 

Katori-Hall-Playbill-VaultKatori Hall (Born May 10, 1981)

“I’ve had frank conversations with theaters who say, ‘We love your play, but we’ve already done a play by another black person this year,’ or ‘I don’t think the kind of people you write about are the ones our audience wants to see’…  Up and coming young black female writers are still struggling to have their voices heard and have their plays produced.”

 

Theresa Rebeck by Sara KrulwichTheresa Rebeck  (Born Feb 19, 1958)

“Plays written by women are not being produced.  In 2007, the one year I opened a play on Broadway*, I was the only woman playwright who did so.  That year, nationwide, 12 per cent of the new plays produced all over the country were by women. That means 88 percent of the new plays produced were written by men. (Back in 1918 before women had the right to vote, the percentage of new plays in New York, written by women, was higher.  It was higher before we had the vote.) Generally, over the last 25 years the number of plays produced that were written by women seems to have vacillated between 12 and 17 percent. This is a disastrous statistic…”

*Rebeck’s plays SEMINAR and DEAD ACCOUNTS opened on Broadway in 2011 and 2012, respectively. 

 

la–ca–0909–lynn–nottage          Lynn Nottage (Born 1964)           

“I feel it’s my social responsibility to shine a light on areas that don’t get seen. My personal feeling is that it’s an artist’s responsibility to be engaged with the culture. And when the culture is going through turmoil, I think an artist can’t ignore that. I don’t feel that every artist has to be politically engaged, but I can’t imagine that you can be an active participant of this culture and not in some way reflect that in the work you are creating.”
 

 

Hansberry by CorbisLorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965)

“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”

 

 Hellman Sam Falk-The NYTimesLillian Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984)

“If I had to give young writers advice, I’d say don’t listen to writers talk about writing.”

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Selecting from my quotations collection for this post, I found myself  drawn to the playwrights above. I admire each one of them for having the courage to find the way to “say it like it is” in a personal and distinctive voice. BRAVO, PLAYWRIGHTS.
 

Next up: ACTORS

 
PHOTO CREDITS:
Hall: Playbill Vault
Hansberry: Corbis 
Hellman: Sam Falk/The New York Times
Howe: New York University
Kerr: Playbill Vault
Kushner: Reuters
Nottage: Al Seid/Los Angeles Times
Parks: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Rebeck: Sara Krulwich/The NewYork Times
Wasserstein: Retna, LTD