Saturday, January 5, 2013

Letters from Alvina Krause: May 9 and May 29, 1979

May 9 -- My visit to Bloomsburg to direct Misalliance looms. Nothing further is said about the spring Alumni Meeting at NU -- see letters of March 1979.

If you have any persuasive power at your distance better get busy. So far there is only one person I would consider for Misalliance and that is R. They don't work! They sit back and wait for me to create their characters and the play. I am willing to do my share but no endurance ordeal as Sea Gull was. Will you get word to them that you expect characters developed before you come, relationships established, the Shaw debate started. Say you will stage what they bring. "Tell them you expect Shavian-British speech -- No Americanisms! and hit that last hard! They seem not to realize how little time they have. Sets and costumes must be built and they will have teaching programs. Do what you can or we will be in bad trouble. Both plays must have perfect style, and they haven't even got a grasp of the obvious elements of each drama. No one -- except J -- was prepared with anything today. I had to push and prod and pull to get anything out of anybody. This is something I simply do not understand: this do-nothing except under pressure. Why?
By the way -- Misalliance is a debate. How do you plan to stage a debate? Now don't you dare leave that to me!


May 29 -- I write asking, among other things, if characters and relationships had been established.

"Characters established", "relationships established" -- in six class sessions? Divided between "Milkwood" [They were also producing Dylan Thomas's Under Milkwood -- DD] and "Misalliance"! You are expecting too much, David! I think it best to warn you: you will have much to do with regard to character and relationships as a director when you start work here. We have achieved a grasp of what Shaw is up to but we have not yet put that in theatrical form -- that is a director's job. We have a grasp of what Shaw is trying to do through character, but this has not gone into dramatic action -- that's your job. Character relationships develop slowly. We have the beginnings. We will go as far as we can in the brief time remaining which is divided with Milkwood.  Keep in mind: only L, J and M have played Shaw and M says she was pretty inadequate to. The spirit is good and they love the play. In casting you will have several decisions to make and I shall leave it to you and BTE.
I was quite serious in my question: how are you going to stage it. Two and a half hours of debate in terms of theatre -- on one set on our small stage! Better have your blocking set definitely before you start. You won't need to spend time discussing the play: You will start right in on the staging -- no improvisations will be needed except the ones you do outside of rehearsals with development of character. Plan to start with a very sure directorial hand. In all rehearsals play the play fully. Be specific. And stick to the text. Permit no improvisations during rehearsals.
C has great difficulty playing her laughs -- as do others. If you use her you will have to direct her and others in this technique. Shaw's laughs must be landed and played.
What I am trying to say is that your directorial job must be very positive and secure. These people are excited about the play, they are doing good work, but they have two other productions to play and to construct. Time is precious.

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