Saturday, October 13, 2012

Letters from Alvina Krause: May 1974

Krause invited me to come to Bloomsburg for summer 1974 to work on Style before my first senior class started in the fall.
And as she believed that theatre happened only when there was an audience, she was urging her Bloomsburg students toward public performance.
Where Krause names names, I use letters of the alphabet.

The positive note dominant in your letter is great. Hang on! Move on!
A girl called me a few days ago asking to come here this summer. I referred her to you for a reference. I cannot judge by a telephone conversation, but my responses to her were negative. She is a Junior, she says. Is she mature enough to work with our group this summer? With you? I she emotionally stable? She seemed "carried away" with an idea that had just hit her. J and S are doing very good work; K is mature. If R comes back he will be highly competent. Wouldn't this Junior be lost in such a group? Don't be hesitant about a frank evaluation of this girl. It would be kindness to her.
The possibility here of a play in the park this summer is again in the air. I am not encouraging it. What they want is a "show" -- However we must be ready to do something if it is called for. What? I think it must be non-royalty for there is no money available evidently. It occurs to me that we could do an old melodrama with style. My favorite is "Lady Audley's Secret". I have no copy of it now. I think there is one in Deering Library. As faculty you could draw it out for an unlimited time. Could you get a copy, read it, send it to us. When it is done with real style it is terrific. Would you be interested in directing it and playing in it?
Be firm on this "coaching" business. Coaching is a practice of the commercial theatre. They cast "stars" in leads. They cast by appearance, size, etc. And so they need a coach to tell people how to walk, to speak, to sit, to "emote". The academic theatre should be above that for it is their business to teach students to act. If they are taught truly to act, they need no "coach". I fought the term when I came to NU. Mitchell [Lee Mitchell, chair of the department, teacher of directing, Krause bĂȘte noire -- DD] asked me to "coach" his actors. I told him I was a teacher, I would teach acting -- I would not "coach". Understand? I was successful in banning the term during my presence at NU. Be forceful in your stand. Don't fight, but stand on your principles and make clear where you stand. And see that your students understand. When they learn to act, they will not need a coach. They may want to go to an authority if they are cast in a complex role in Shakespeare, Chekhov, etc. They may need help in analysis, they will need study but not "coaching".

There was no public performance that summer.

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