Thursday, February 01, 2007

Words of wisdom

To continue the theme of Ms Ehle's ATW seminar mentioned last week, here are excerpts from seminars involving Rosemary Harris and Utopia cast members:

Rosemary Harris emphasises the importance of stamina:

I was going to quote Sir Laurence Olivier because he said the most important attribute an actor could have is stamina. He said, "You can have all the talent in the world, but unless you have stamina you can't survive the great roles." You cannot play Coriolanus unless you've got stamina. You can't play Othello unless you've got stamina. You can't play any of the great parts.

(To view Rosemary Harris' other seminar, from April 1985, click here)

We are used to seeing Martha Plimpton on the stage, but she lets us know what she expects when on the receiving end at the theatre:

I go for a sense that my mind is being respected, number one. That my intelligence is being respected and that I am being drawn into a world. That I am having the experience, not just watching someone feel something. That's not terribly interesting to me. I want to feel it.

She also clearly defines the roles of actor, director and playwright:

No actor, I think, wants to belittle or insult a playwright by assuming that she could tell him what the play is about. And no director or actor should expect a playwright to be his own dramaturge. That's incredibly unfair. A playwright is there to put words on the page. It's the director's job to find the ways to articulate that theatrically.

On a similar note, Billy Crudup shares his views on the job of the director:

That's what a good director does - he tells you how you can function in a safe space. He says, "This is what we're doing. This is how the play is focused." You as an actor and interpreter of the craft then understand intuitively or logically what space you have to grow in - so as not to divert the story, so as not to divert the style and the form. ... A good director will do that because then, you can take it further than he could imagine.

(To see Billy Crudup's other seminar, from September 1998, click here)

Richard Easton praises the recent demolition of boundaries between mediums:

One of the things that is wonderful that actors can wander between media. In the 50s, if you were a film actor, you did film. And if you suddenly did a play, it was thought that your career must be on the skids. ... But now, all the actors do everything.

Brian F. O'Byrne reveals how he deals with the mid-run dip in morale:

Baseball. I watch it, I watch obsessively. On Mondays I go, I travel - this year I managed to go to Chicago and Boston on my Mondays.

In addition to the seminars, the American Theatre Wing has also conducted radio interviews for the past few years. We have in the past mentioned those of Rosemary Harris and Liev Schreiber, and there is now also an interview with Martha Plimpton from June 2006. Billy Crudup will be on the next round of interviews, so watch this space!

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