Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Letters from Alvina Krause: Summer and Fall 1975

I was asked to write a profile of Alvina Krause for Dialogue, the new publication of the School of Speech. I asked Krause to provide me with some background information.

[...A brief discussion of an unrelated topic -- DD]
I have jotted down on the back of your paper some of the places I have been since retirement. I simply cannot remember all. It seems I was continually catching planes to take me somewhere for a workshop after retirement -- I kept no record.
Just remember the basic philosophy I tried to communicate -- "Theatre if it is real is big. In comprehension of humanity it stretches to the far horizon -- In understanding, deep as the human heart--

Doane College for lectures and workshops repeatedly until they gave me a PhD Dr of Humanities
Yankton College several times
Texas U -- lectures and workshops
California U at LA
Michigan U
Illinois U --
Illinois Wesleyan Interim session 2 or 3 weeks of teaching and workshops
S Methodist U -- Dallas
Gallaudet, the world's only college for the deaf Washington D.C.
Master classes for the Recreation Dept. of D.C.
Roosevelt U. Ask Frank Galati

Ask Vera Ward [former student -- DD] about Yankton
Ask John Van Meter about my retirement
Evanston and New Trier H.S. Do talk to Winifred Gahagen at New Trier.  She can tell you how I work with H. S. students and how wonderful their response is. And she would be happy to help you. She understands my work as a teacher ----
Concern is my motivation passionate concern for youth, for humanity --
Concern is the root of drama. Shaw, Shakespeare, Chekhov -- all the greats --
Concern must motivate the actor, the director, the dramatist.


Further Notes
Alvina Krause
NU Alum
Assigned to teach a 2 hr. credit course in acting, AK soon transformed it into a 4 hour year course; an intermediate 4 hr year course in the acting of Greek drama, Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw, Ibsen was soon added. A third course in Style followed. This unusual sequence of Acting courses attracted students with serious professional aims. To complete their training A.K. established a summer theatre: The Playhouse, Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. Out of this combination of academic and practical training came Patricia Neal, Paula Prentiss, Richard Benjamin, Gerald Freedman, Inga Swenson, James Olson, Corinne Jacker, Marshall Mason, Jack Clay, Omar Paxon: teachers, directors, actors. She directed and produced 180 productions at Eagles Mere.
University Theater productions of Chekhov brought her national recognition as an authority on Chekhovian drama. Her production of King Lear was SRO. Long Day's Into Night [sic] was her final production at NU. O'Neill's Anna Christie had been her first.
Since retirement: lectures and workshops in universities and college throughout the country, directed Three Sisters and Beckett at Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, Santa Maria, California. American College Theatre Association gave her a gold medal award of excellence in 1974.
At the present moment (July 1975) she is preparing to participate in August as critic teacher in the finals of the National High School Festival in WAshington DC.


I sent her a first draft.

I began your paper with dread fearing an obituary. Thank you for avoiding that possibility!
Can you add somewhere that I am a tyrant on techniques of communication, on voice and body training, on timing and pointing of lines, on all elements of the art of communication. (This needs some stress because too many people fail to see that substance without form is meaningless -- that I demand both. To some it is a contradiction in my work.

A Final Note
The study of acting begins with life -- humanity
Emphasize the need for study, for reading, for study of all the humanities courses.
Craft is important, but it is not studied for mastery of craft alone. Its purpose is to shape, form, communicate substance. The material of drama is the astonishment of living.
Goal: Not stardom but excellence in the art of theatre.
Can you write up what I did for Galati's class? That may be what the Dean wants -- [Krause went to Evanston as a guest teacher in Frank Galati's summer 1975 class on Clowning. She was pointedly clear that she was responding to Galati's request, not to an invitation from the school -- DD].
My only reason for travelling after retirement was to communicate what acting, (theatre) really is to young people (like you) who really want to know in depth.
*Also to spread the doctrine that courses in acting in colleges and HS should not be pushed to the periphery of education, but should be at the very center because acting is the study of human motivation, of the "why" of behaviour as well as an art form as serious and big and great as opera, all music, painting, sculpture
Please try to make clear why I travelled so extensively -- It was not for money, nor fame nor self exploitation. It was because I believe totally in the importance of theatre in our culture, it must be restored to that importance if we are to exist in this world of conflict. UNDERSTANDING -- God help us! Let us do the drama of all nations, all people, with understanding, for understanding -- Please get  the motive for my teaching! And my concern for young people (like you)

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