Saturday, December 22, 2012

Letter from Alvina Krause: November 1978

With Annie May Swift closed, the school rented the seventh and eighth floors of a downtown Evanston bank building to house the Dean's offices and the Theatre Department. The acting classroom was one of those rooms with low ceilings, fluorescent lights, tile floors.

David, I know it must be hard -- this adjustment. (My own heart aches thinking of that Annie May Swift auditorium and what we created therein. Lear! A magnificent Lear!) But take a deep breath, David, and respond to that challenge! With what you have to give you can convert any space into a stage. Play in the round and create a world in a little space. Make it an opportunity to test imagination! I have just written a biting criticism to your students here in Bloom on their inability to create, on their total lack of imagination, on their inability to get out of their commonplace egoes [sic]. Not one can see and respond to General Gabler's picture on a wall! And so they fail utterly as actors. Get busy, David. It's a challenge. Convert your present class rooms into Ibsen's world. Chekhov's. Shakespeare's! maybe out of nothing you can really be a great teacher and touch the creative minds of actors which now luxuriate in unmotivated emotion and lines without imagery behind them. Why tell me why can no Hedda put images behind, around, and overflowing: "I am bored -- bored to death" Why does not one of them want to smash that lamp shade with red roses painted on it. Why can not one of them want to stamp on my French Oriental turned into a flowered green carpet? NO creative minds! Get busy in your desolate classrooms. I challenge you! And I believe in you! Grieve with me over Annie May Swift, but join hands with Cumnock and Dennis --
By the way maybe you can jolt your Dean a bit. Muriel Bach [former student -- DD] called me the other night. She and Vera Ward (former student -- DD] had approached the Dean on a project of theirs concerning the new Theatre building and me. He welcomed them, said he favored their project, said he had considered it himself but someone had always come forth with derogatory comments -- Can you make him see the nature of the source of those comments -- C C Cunningham's letter of resignation tells the full story I can swear it is the truth. It is in the archives, if it isn't in his own office files it is in President Miller's file. Can truth never prevail? Must the Mitchells, Schneidemans, Coakleys forever prevail? Muriel and Vera think otherwise. I doubt that they can make their point.

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