Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Letters from Alvina Krause: Creative Imagination and Shakespeare -- Winter 1974

By winter quarter 1974 I was posting notes on my bulletin board. I sent Krause a copy of each set of notes and she returned it with her responses. I include only those parts of my notes that are necessary to give context to her responses.

Bulletin Board Notes on The Creative Imagination
I wrote a long essay about metaphor and the actor with nods to Hedda Gabler and the army pistol and Desdemona as a rose, including this passage written in my best AK manner:
"...What is a rose? Form? all right -- but everything else has form -- what is the exact, unique form of a rose? Can you capture that form in your body, sense it, create it, transfer it to yourself? Beauty? All right -- but what precisely is the beauty of a rose that is not the beauty of any other thing...."

In the margin AK wrote this:
Continue on the "action" words. On behavior resulting from action --
A rose turns to the sun, sways with the breeze -- droops in the drought and heat --

At the end of the notes, she wrote this:
You are terrific in concepts -- But develop ability to touch off creative action by the use of creative action.
Your fantasy [an assignment in which an actor plays one of a given human being, animal, or object, creating a pantomimed story involving all three -- DD] again needs explicit action.
Use "if" more
Everyone has a pistol within him -- go on develop, illustrate -- its power to destroy
He also has a mouse within him -- who peeks out, etc. --
Everyone has a peacock within who preens his feathers, steps high, etc. --
If pistol, mouse, peacock collide [Hedda Gabler, Tesman, Judge Brack -- DD]


In her responses to my notes to the Shakespeare class, Krause continued to point me toward illustration by direct action.

My notes on creating the reality of A Midsummer-Night's Dream
In the notes I eventually get to this statement:
" the play, play the drama to create the beauty, the magic, the joy of a mid-summer night's dream -- to create the truth in 'Love is blind'."

In the margin she wrote this:
A night to do as you please, to race into the woods.
You are in a wood, at midnight -- trees, shadows -- crickets -- a cow moos, a bush shivers -- you see a pair of eyes -- owl? 
No -- it has horns!

A bit farther on:
You are so right, but you stop short of the images, action metaphors, which motivate -- imagine -- "It is midsummer night -- anything can happen --- you are in a wood -- there's an open space -- a stage --moonlight -- you start out 'to be or not to be' a donkey brays, dances in the moonlight" etc. etc.

Later in my Midsummer notes:
Men -- toss your capes joyfully over your shoulder, stride vigorously through this world, perch that cap with the feather in it on your head and bolt off into the forest.

You want --- what? a girl? money? Fame?

And Bottom?

You want to act -- so does Bottom. To act you need a loud voice. So does Bottom. Do it -- No -- a deep voice, etc. etc.
Bottom is anyone who wants to act -- He dreams -- Titania -- Elizabeth Taylor ----


My journal

Krause's Comment
Ideas are only starting points -- The good teacher takes them into action.
Hedda is a pistol, Hedda is afraid of society, Hedda tempts Lovborg
Human beings are made up of opposites -- part reaches to the stars, part follows the herd: be a lark, be a sheep --
Macbeth is a 1) Great soldier, even a poet 2) Macbeth wants a throne.
Honor vs. base ambition
Eagle vs.  ?


  1. This note was an "ah-ha" moment for me; so clear, precise and simple: "Continue on the 'action' words. On behavior resulting from action -- A rose turns to the sun, sways with the breeze -- droops in the drought and heat --bends..."

    1. She did it for me as an actor and then she continued to reinforce it for me as a teacher: If you're an actor or a teacher of acting, you must learn to translate any idea, any concept, into direct, simple, illustrative action, behavior, response.
      As you say, clear, precise, and simple. But so many actors and teachers fail to do it. They stop at the idea, the feeling, the general sense -- and then they try to act that.
      It is indeed an "ah-ha" moment.