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From Bagels to Greasepaint
Back in the sixties I had the opportunity to see the Negro Ensemble Company's ground breaking production of Genet's "The Blacks". Those were the days when they were down on Second Avenue, close to Ratners, where I always had my borscht, lox and bagels before or after going to the theatre. The cast was superb: James Earl Jones, Arthur French, and a host of other equally fine performers. Michael Bettencourt's reaction to the Classical Theatre of Harlem's production of the intrigued me. After reading his reaction to an audience member being subjected to embarrassment and manipulation, a white person made to feel that she was part of the establishment perpetuating racism, I hope I would have had the courage to slap the actor taking advantage of her down by improvising off him with wit and endless good will. He would then be in the same place I was. I would be standing up, facing him squarely, and he would be on stage, facing me squarely. In the strange and wonderful environment of the theatre, we would be, finally, after all these years of seperation and discrimination between audiences and actors, EQUAL. Wouldn't that be great? He would have to break out of his appointed role as a performer, and I would have to break out of my appointed role as an audience member. We would be both be taking risks together; improvising as one. We would be improvising on equal ground for the job of working on stage and getting paid for it. And if I beat him at it, and if I won, based on the audience's applause, if I did his job better than he did, I might get his role. Finally getting the break, I've been looking for all my life. He'd be out of a job, and I'd have the opportunity to step in and replace him. And I wouldn't be ashamed about it either. I'd cover my face with grease paint. I'd do his job in black face. Wouldn't that be a clown show? To paraphrase Kipling: If you can keep your wits when all about you are losing theirs, why not?
Ned Bobkoff - Rochester
See No Evil, Hear And Speak Okay
Cancel my subscription to this anti-American rag. You people are a disgrace. Besides, what does this have to do with theatre and film!
(Name withheld to protect the ignorant - 1 of 5)
Ramble On, Meiselman
Meiselman rambles wrong. The French and Chinese are RIGHT: sex, drugs and rock&roll are the “satanic menace”. That’s why there are no MacDonald’s, Starbuck’s and Disney in France and China. And if Uma Thurman is our greatest film actress then Quentin Tarantino is our greatest action hero, which he is!
J. Mayer - New York
Creatively Speaking, Mr. Challis
Out of a life of divergent careers, the "play" and its art have seduced and captivated me -- I cannot, nor do I wish, to escape. For its here that I have found that one place to be truly me -- and free! In the beginning I thought this was so because I could hide behind the character and could not be judged nor blamed. But what a joy to discover that's an illusion. The very richness of the art is the "informing" of the character with my own history. I hesitate to name or label the almost-infinite incidents of that spiritual psychology --whatever it's appearance -- because, I feel, naming so often "judges". And for me it has always been the judgement that restricted the expression. The truth sets one free and humanizes the characters we play. The applause is a recognition that we, as actors, have shared the truth of some part of our history and it's vibration has touched the soul of the audience. Thanks for your thoughts.
Ed Sorrell - Boston
Epstein On Meisner On Stage Directions
I don't know where I got it, but somewhere along the way I was told that stage directions in the printed script were from the the production's first stage manager. True or false, no difference: I ignored them. But recently I had the extraordinary privilege of playing James Tyrone in LDJ. I ignored the advice of yore , and savored every stage direction, feeling they were given from the raw, exposed nerves of Eugene's wrenching memories. If, indeed, the directions are not his, they were expressed by a kindred spirit. Your articles are very helpful and meaningful to me as an actor. Thanks.
Ed Sorrell - Boston
An Answer for “Too Cool” Thomas
(You) asked: “If a group of actors truly showed the depths of tragedy, would the audience be receptive?” I’d answer yes. That’s why I love the theatre so much. It’s all about the truth.
Tara Melinsky - London
For Michael Bettencourt - An Encouraging Word
Since subscribing to Scene4, I've enjoyed reading about the Boston theatre scene in your monthly perspective. Before reading the March edition I was all set to see ART's "Mother Courage". Now I'll just wait to see if I can experience something better, or at least more challenging. I've failed to check the archives, knowing I'd have to reopen the wound: your failure to see "Long Day's Journey".
Ed Sorrell - Boston
On “The Matador And The Mouse”
Very interesting story. I hope some day you'll reestablish your studio and I and other developing actors can have that same experience!
Ed Sorrell - Boston
I’ve seen that Israeli mouse somewhere. I know, at Actor’s Studio West. Only in L.A.!
Larry Levitz - Los Angeles
Teixeira Moita’s Work
Thank you for publishing these wonderful plays. Moita is a unique talent and we hope to to get the rights to produce them at our local theatre group.
Rachel Portman - Santa Fe
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