Sunday, December 2, 2012

Letters from Alvina Krause: Fall 1976

My first professional acting job in Chicago: A Day in the Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols. Directed by Dennis Zacek. Northlight Theatre.

Just had a long telephone call from John Van Meter. Ecstatic over "Joe Egg". And John to be moved to ecstasy is most rare. He praised your work in great detail. And praised the directing! That was a surprise after seeing his work at Loyola. [Zacek was artistic director of Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre from 1977 to 2011. In fall 1971 at Loyola he co-directed with Bud Beyer a production of Romeo and Juliet, which I think is the only production of Zacek's that Krause saw. At Loyola I acted in several shows directed by Zacek: The Knack (fall 1969), Little Mary Sunshine (spring 1970), The Roar of the Greasepaint the Smell of the Crowd (summer 1970), Thieves' Carnival (summer 1970), Waiting for Godot (winter 1971)  -- DD]
So you did it! You truly did it! Tied up all you have learned and all that you are. Now will you stand tall! Without any prodding. Now will you teach with joy? You better! And meet your faculty colleagues eye to eye. Be humble thinking of all there is still to achieve, but no humility before the Coakleys, Schneidemans [faculty colleagues -- DD], etc. of your world. Did the Dean see your production? No humility before him either! Eye to eye assurance!
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to gloat a little personally. Grin at [She names another colleague -- DD] for me!


I am deeply curious about the 2 million plus that has been contributed to the theatre fund. Do find out who gave it. The Dean should be willing to tell. [I didn't ask; he didn't tell -- DD]
As for the article [Is it the Dialogue article? something else? I can't remember -- DD] -- no one could do it more effectively than you -- especially since this summer when I think you were objective about the totality of theatre training. Whatever you do keep it down to earth, realistic, true. No eulogy. The roots of acting are in humanity. The study of characters is the study of man -- of the people of a small town, a big town, a family, a Congress, a White House. if you can stick to assignments -- I so much wish you could destroy the charisma rationalization that [She names a colleague -- DD] and other theatre staff are propagating. The extension of the theories of psychology, sociology, history, etc -- into reality, into humanity ---- why can't people see it -- They don't want to: it's hard going, it means thinking, understanding, perceiving. And that statement: "Acting can't be taught; you have it or you don't" -- that sticks in my craw! -- And vitally concerned. Not a day goes by, studying Chekhov, that we have not referred to US politics, the nuclear bomb, education, etc -- Be sure to indicate that studying drama is not going back to the past; it is bringing our past to our present.
God bless!


After the second week of fall 1976, I stopped writing a teaching journal. This is one of Krause's last comments in that journal.

I burst with joy!
Now you are strong. You know where you are going.
Fear Nothing -- No One
Take Workshop [Student-directed one-acts -- DD] on any terms and convert it into yours with superior leadership

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