Sunday, September 23, 2012

Letters from Alvina Krause: Notes on Sensory Response

More from Alvina Krause on the first quarter of teaching beginning acting.

Scattered notes on training of the actor through sensory responses.
Use your own illustrative material.
Develop ideas in your own way.
I have only tried to show the nature of the work and its connection with acting, with character, etc.
Make the course yours --
You have the equipment -- Use it confidently -- Share your knowledge, your love of theatre, your understanding.

Examples to use -- to assign

Elizabethans -- alive in all senses (except the artisans)
New world -- astonishing -- boats from Orient

Romeo, Juliet -- sky -- sun -- wind, stars --air etc. Give single lines -- respond to motivating sense response
"The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse"
"Soft what light" --

Mercutio -- poet -- all senses responsive --
"Queen Mab hath been" --

Marchbanks -- extra sensory -- every color hits -- every sound alerts -- His entrance

Candida responding to all -- but one at a time plays upon her -- Sit before fire --

Prossy -- shuts out stimuli -- effect on voice, spine

Shylock -- an itching palm but loves rich colors of oriental rugs, jewels. Give someone a jewel box --  Create Shylock through touch -- response to color

Our Town -- create Emily of last act -- with no words. She hears, sees, perceives for the first time

Create Hedda -- through handling of army pistol. Its weight, perfect balance, beauty of shape -- handle it until identification with it is complete -- she is a pistol

Tesman's love of books -- Create him -- books are living things -- lines dance -- read -- handle books, words sparkle in his brain

Judge Brack -- 'Justice is blind' sees a woman's pretty figure, curves, hears boredom in her voice -- perceives only what pleases his masculinity --

Thea -- sees people -- their eyes, hears tones in voices, responds to needs

Ask students to know: Romeo and J -- Macbeth -- Candida -- Hedda


Body -- Voice
The actor's body (total: voice, mind) is his instrument. As a violin is a musician's instrument--
How does a musician treat his violin -- his bow -- It becomes part of him -- He seeks perfection.

Teach your students pride in their instruments -- achieved how --
A pianist will never play on a piano that is not perfect. He will order a piano removed if it is not perfect. This is not eccentricity. It is the policy of an artist who knows his instrument must be perfect if his communication of Mozart is to be perfect. And the instrument must be tuned to concert pitch. Even the most delicate pianissimos must reach the last row of the auditorium.
So it must be with the actor: his instrument must be tuned to concert pitch before he steps on stage. His most quiet tones must reach the balcony effortlessly; his slightest movement must carry meaning to every member of the audience. This demands perfect ontrol of every nerve and muscle --

Train your instrument as a musician trains.


Keep your vision clear!
Know what is important: let that knowledge determine all decisions
Trust the dramatist! Let him lead you! "The play's the thing" -- Trust it.
Also: trust your students! Reveal greatness to them, expose them to magnificence and they will rise to it. I never knew it to fail --

My hopes and prayers go with you.

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