Colette Brooks, ‘The Play’s the Thing’: A Polemic”

Category : Arts, Theater, Writing

Though other literary forms wax and wane, the novel, short story, diary, epic and such forever suffering favor or oblivion at the hands of the reading public, plays, it seems, are always out of fashion; unread by all but the very few, those generally drama students, sui generis, indefatigable by definition. It is possible to account for this lack of readerly interest by holding, as many have, that plays are not primarily literary objects at all and thus cannot exert the kind of imaginative claims that inhere naturally in real literature; but this argument simply cedes the point to those who would discredit dramatic literature in any case. It is perhaps more promising to grant the legitimacy of plays as literature, by fiat, and turn the inquiry to our reading practices themselves; to determine whether there is something inherent in the way in which we read, think about, talk about and teach drama that causes our powers and imagination to falter at the point at which we approach the individual play. If this is so, the layman’s lack of affinity for the form should come as no surprise.

Source: Performing Arts Journal 9.2/3 (1985): 160-162

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Harold Clurman, “The Theatre of the Thirties”

Category : Theater

There is a tendency nowadays to downgrade the thirties. The reason for this is that the prevailing mood of the thirties was what used to be called “left of center.” Beginning with the late forties from the time the phrase about the “iron curtain” became part of the common vocabulary-our “intelligentsia” sounded the retreat. The Roosevelt administration, subjected to sharp criticism not infrequently close to slander, seemed to be in bad odor. “Left of center” might be construed as something worse than liberalism. To be “radical” implied that one might be tainted with some degree of “pink.”

Source: Tulane Drama Review 4.2 (Dec 1959): 3-11

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Gustave Cohen, “Were There Theatres in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries?”

Category : Ecole_Libre, Theater

It seems beyond question that the documents collected by Professor Laura Hibbard Loomis and Professor Roger Loomis invite the historian of the mediaeval stage to revise a current opinion founded on an incomplete citation of texts and many preconceptions.

Source: Speculum 20.1 (Jan 1945): 96-98

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John Gassner, “Theatre Arts in a Free Society”

Category : Arts, Theater

In a world of growing tensions, the subject of freedom for the theatre and its related arts necessarily gives us greatconcern. The subject, considering the state of the world, can be approached only with faith in the strength of American democracy to survive the onslaughts of totalitarianism from abroad; and faith, too, in the common sense and the confidence of the American people to resist intolerance within our own borders. Faith should not be confused, of course, with complacency. It should be accompanied with works; that is, with a constant endeavor to sustain a free theatre in all the communities in which it is threatened or is likely to be threatened.

Source: Educational Theatre Journal 6.3 (Oct 1954): 191-200

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Clifford Odets, “Waiting for Lefty” and “Paradise Lost”

Category : Arts, Theater

Source: Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays (NY: Grove Press, 1979): 9-13, 190-192

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Erwin Piscator, The Political Theater

Category : Arts, Theater

In a conversation with Lania which had taken place about the time when we were founding our theater (I had put up Lania’s General Strike [Generalstreik] for performance at the Volksbuhne at the time of the English miners’ strike, because the subject and the form seemed to me worthy of production), he had suggested an idea for a comedy which I liked very much. What he had in mind was to show how profiteers use revolutions, and to prove that the revolutionary idea also triumphs over the personalities who try to misuse it.

Source: (NY: Avon Books, 1963)

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Perviz Sawoski, “The Stanislavski Method: Growth and Methodology”

Category : Arts, Theater

For this discussion of the Stanislavski System, Stanislavski’s teachings during the later period of his life will be examined first. This is where he radically changed his earlier techniques in favor of what is now known as the Stanislavski System. The most important point of this radical shift is in the evolution of his ‘Method of Physical Actions’ which was formed in 1933, a few years before his death in 1938. This ‘Method of Physical Actions’ replaced his earlier techniques that were based heavily on ‘Emotional Memory’ as well as on long readings and analysis of the text when rehearsing a production.

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Rod Steiger, “Won Oscar as bigoted sheriff in ‘Heat of the Night’ ”

Category : Arts, Students, Theater

Of all the Method actors who evolved from the Actors Studio and its tentacles, Rod Steiger, who died on July 9th aged 77, was arguably the most intense. “It encompasses anything that gets you involved personally in a part so that you can communicate in human terms with the audience.”

Source:  The Irish Times (13 July 2002): 14

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Lee Strasberg and Richard Schechner, “Working with Live Material”

Category : Theater

Strasberg: At present there is so much confusion, misunderstanding, and downright ignorance-not about the Stanislavski System, but about acting in general-that to begin to deal with this problem really would mean writing three complete books, one of which would be a detailed history of acting, showing the problems of the actor at different periods, another a psychological analysis of acting problems, and the third a description of the Stanislavski System and its relation to these problems.

Source: The Tulane Drama Review, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Autumn, 1964), pp. 117-135

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John Willett, “New York and the Dramatic Workshop 1939-1951”

Category : Arts, Theater

There is a note of Piscator’s, written in 1937, which says, “I can only  work against bourgeois society, I can never work with it or through it.”  Similarly, that summer when he met Gasbarra [Felix Gasbarra, a German  playwright] in Burgundy-their last meeting for some fifteen years-he got very angry and shouted, “But we said we’d never turn bourgeois!”

Source: Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Winter, 1978), pp. 3-16

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Tennessee Williams, “The Catastrophe of Success”

Category : Arts, Theater, Writing

This winter marked the third anniversary of the Chicago opening of “The Glass Menagerie,” an event that terminated one part of my life and began another about as different in all external circumstances as could well be imagined. I was snatched out of virtual oblivion and thrust into sudden prominence, and from the precarious tenancy of furnished rooms about the country I was removed to a suite in a first-class Manhattan hotel. My experience was not unique. Success has often come that abruptly into the lives of Americans. The Cinderella story is our favorite national myth, the cornerstone of the film industry if not of the Democracy itself. I have seen it enacted on the screen so often that I was now inclined to yawn at it, not with disbelief but with an attitude of Who Cares! Anyone with such beautiful teeth and hair as the screen protagonist of such a story was bound to have a good time one way or another, and you could bet your bottom dollar and all the tea in China that one would be caught dead or alive at any meeting involving a social conscience.

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