By Anne Bogart
A thought-provoking exam of the demanding situations of creating theatre.
content material: reminiscence --
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Additional resources for A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre
No more than a painter can pause in the moment of interaction with paint and canvas should a rehearsal process get bogged down in theory. I think of a good rehearsal as being like the experience of playing the Ouija board. You place your hands on the pulse and listen. You feel. You follow. You act in the moment before the analysis, not after. This is the only way. Distortion is a partial destruction and it is a necessary ingredient in making the vague visible. It too is violent. Agnes DeMille described the use of distortion, or turning, in dance: ••• Distortion is the very essence of art and all dancing.
I could trace influences back to about 1968 and then everything stopped. I had difficulty channelling previous generations in any concrete way. I could not feel them ‘in the room’ with me. I wasn’t using them in my rehearsals. I was not fed by them ideologically, technically, aesthetically or personally in a way that felt substantive or practical. Certainly I was familiar with the prominent individuals and great companies from the first half of the century. I was aware of the political engagement and aesthetic break-throughs of the Federal Theater Project, the Mercury Theater, the Group Theater, the Civic Theater, the Living Newspaper and individuals such as Eva Le Gallienne, Josh Logan, Hallie Flannagan, Orson Welles, Jose Ferrer, Elia Kazan, Clifford Odets and so many others, but why did I have so much trouble accessing their wisdom?
In one year, 1926, Rodgers and Hart had five shows running or opening on Broadway. In 1927 Broadway reached its all-time production peak as critics from the twenty-four city daily newspapers grappled with 268 offerings. The end of the 1920s brought the Depression. Vaudeville, the crown jewel of American popular entertainment, died as talking pictures replaced the art of the silent film. The talent drain into film started to dilute the potency of the stage. A new method for actors based on the early theories of the Russian Konstantin Stanislavsky came to dominate our approach to acting for the rest of this century.
A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre by Anne Bogart