Saturday, January 27, 2007

Craft or no craft - that is the question....

As you may already know, the American Theatre Wing has been conducting a round of seminars annually since 1980. All the panellists that contribute are distinguished in their field, resulting in several hours of wonderful, invaluable discussion of many different subjects under the theatre umbrella.

Videos of all seminars are available on the ATW website, but in case you prefer literary to visual material, here are a few excerpts from the seminar Ms Ehle took part in back in Spring 2000. For the video itself, click here.

Ms Ehle discussing the concept of 'craft':

I think it has come about through doing things. And I think it shifts
from part to part. Its a bit like what Cherry [Jones] was saying about absolving yourself into a character. I think the part teaches you, and the play teaches you.

Ms Ehle talking about craft in relation to The Real Thing:

With what I'm doing at the moment, you feel really awful if you bring any craft on stage...and so we don't really. And that has become the craft of this particular piece - that there isn't any. So there's no blocking...we just kind of do what we want to do. ... The freedom of that is a craft in itself - to stay that open.

Patrick Stewart is full of praise for The Real Thing and the way in which it is performed:

It is extraordinary, because when the play began, I had the feeling that I shouldn't be there watching. There was something so private and exclusive about drew us into your experience. I don't think I've seen a company working in quite the way that this company works. It is as though you're permitted to be a little fly on the wall, observing what is happening inside these rooms. It is thrilling.

A book has also been published, called Acting: Working in the Theatre, edited by Robert Emmet Long. It is a fabulous compilation of quotes from ATW seminar participants. It includes two quotes from Ms Ehle.


Anonymous said...

"...was saying about absolving yourself into a character."

Did she really say "absolving"? That doesn't quite make sense.

Abi said...

Yes, she did - I can only think she meant it in the context of freeing or releasing yourself through becoming the character instead, if that makes any sense! :)

Anonymous said...

Not that it makes a whole lot of difference, but I'm pretty sure it was "absorbing" - "I mean, a bit like what Cherry was saying about going about sort of absorbing yourself into a character."

Thanks for the link to the video -- fascinating.

Abi said...

I'm pretty sure I can hear an 'l' there...but no, it doesn't matter. Maybe she meant absorbing! You're welcome for the link - they are a fabulous resource. I'm addicted to watching them all now!