OH, BABY! It wasn't as big as "Dirty Dancing," but it was pretty amazing and certainly life-changing!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Unless each chapter is illustrated with pictures, it is not acceptable as an actor’s study of character.  Search for eyes that may be the person you are studying. spines, feet, hands, (in actors) shoulders, head carriage, etc.  It is useless to write “mountain climate has mde this person rugged” unless you describe and illustrate the muscles movement that can be called “rugged” -- So far in journals the kinesthetic aspects of character study has been lacking.  as a result your stage appearances have been inadequate from-the-neck-up characteristics.  You have only about six more class days before stage exams.
The basic drives at the lowest level of life are self-preservation and racial preservation.  At the lowest level, food, protection from the elements, and from enemies are of first importance.  The sex drive is strong for racial survival depends upon it.  Once these basic desires can be satisfied with ease, they can become sublimated or perverted.  The concern for self can be directed to concern for others, or it an be intensified in various degrees to accumulation of possession for the sake of possession.  Tom Wolfe’s mother had to save everything, literally everything -- string, newspapers, old cans, etc.   So the drives turn into compulsion or obessins or into social concerns for humanity, for one’s country, for God, etc.  The savior or the criminal?  Since the sex drive had to be so strong that the survival of the race is certain, to keep man in the despair from social suicide, it is not strong that it should result in perversions or in great sublimations, in excesses or in repressions.  (This leads us to the drives of character, the needs, the desires, their depths, their intensities.  These stem from the environmental actors you have supposedly studied -- in the adjustments or failure to adjust -- in the life of your character what desire dominates?  With what does it conflict?  How strong?  Does it lift one to tip top?  Or tie to the earth?  Does it drive straight forward on a direct line of action (Lady Macbeth)? or waver?  Vacillate?  Die?  For personal reference: your desire to be an actor: ration?  Dream?  Realistic?  Compensation for other failures?  Self-motivated or parental motivated?  How great is it?  What stops it?  does it recognize obstacles?  What’s your price?  If it means giving up someone you love?  If someone offered you a very substantial income in another field?  If some actor-friend committed suicide because of failure?
Observe expression of drives in other people -- Watch their eyes: when A talks about his success in WaaMu, what are B’s eyes saying?  What does his ciagarette say?  Watch his feet.  Find a Lady Macbeth walk.  A Hedda walk -- an O’Neill walk.  What story of ambition, defeat, frustration, does a spine show?
What is the most important thing in life to your character?  God?  Country?  Parents?  The Neighbors?  Ego?  Ethical, moral, social standards?  Artistic? 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


B43-2  January 5, 1961
Every role must give the illusion that it is a “straight” role.  That is, if you are playing a 60 yr old banker, the audience must believe that you are a 60 yr. old banker.  That is, your age may be 18, but you give the illusion that you are 60.  To create such illusions, it is necessary to live the part, as far as it is possible with your equipment, physiological and psychological, to live the part.  It is not necessary or even desirable to live the part fully during  performances, but in order to create a plausible illusion, it is necessary to live the part through certain stages of rehearsals.  If you have done so, habits of body and mind and speech -- behavior -- will carry over to performance and motivations will be discovered which add depth to this dimension of character creation.
A playwright can only deal with dialogue and with stage directions wihich give major pieces of business and action.  He cannot give you the subtext, the stream of consciousness which initiates the lines, which is unspoken, which flows past and beyond lines -- that is he cannot create the inner life of the character.  He can only give you the outer manifestations of that inner life.  It is the actor’s function to discover that inner life, that unvocalized activity of mind and emotions.  To discover how to go about this -- one way to go about it -- is to study the novelist’s methods.  Actually every actor must in part be a novelist.  That is: he must create what the playwright may write:  Regina stops on the stairs:  “why don’t you all go home?”  The novelist writes the same words, but before he writes, and after, he may reveal in several chapters the events of Regina’s life up to this moment and thus give the most complete motivation for the speaking of the line.  So the actor, like the novelist, must create this past, which leads to the present moment, to discover the inner motivation for this line.
The prededing pages give the objective of the assignment.  It may be summarized: to discover fully the experience of beiing another human being; to live someone else’s life; to lose yourself in someone else.
Select a novel which reveals character fully, which deals with motivation for human conduct, which deals with psychological development of character with inner changes of character, which is concerned with inner changes of character, which is concerned with inner action rather than outer happening.  Stay away from thrilling plots, sensation for the sake of sensation, etc.
Having selected a possible choice, read a few chapters, stop, think through what you have read.  After a few moments, do you find yourself thinking, not as you: but as the character in the book?  Read on, repeat the thinking process.  do you find yourself seeing things about you, not as you but as the character might?  That is: does your chair become another chair, does the atmosphere, the light, the room itself, change?  Read on and repeat the process.  Do you find yourself thinking thoughts you never would think?  Do you feel these thoughts, pushing you into the action the novelist  had described?  If your answers are yes, you are on the way vicariously to live another life.  Daily even before you finish the book, improvise in situations which the novelist gives or which he suggests.  Try flashbacks.  Do you find your attitudes changing, your walk is changing, your carriage, etc.  Try it out in class.  Add new improvisations every day.  Enlist someone to be another character of minor importance.  Improv with him -- what new traits developed?  Habits?
Take new situations which require growth, deterioration, development, change.  Put your character in situations witha minister, an artist, a doctor, a teacher, the opposite sex.  Is an inner direction developing?  Are compulsions developing?  Desires?  What is most important in this life?  What road is this person traveling?  Where is he going?  Why?  When behavior and words become inevitable you have become another person.  Try all of these stages in class.

FINAL PRESENTATION:  Onstage: this character in a situation from the novel which reveals the character with another person.  Objective: audience belief that you are this character: to lose yourself in the role.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Shortly after beginning this blog, I began to realize that most remaining participants were of retirement age and not all were very computer savvy.  The title of this version is too darn long and doesn't include the Bloomsbury or NU people who would also have notes and stories.  I'll fold these materials over into the www.krausenotes.blogspot.com  site until it seems pointless.  Probably a month or so.

I'll concentrate on getting up all the notes I have first before I indulge in too much story-telling.  (I love telling about wake-ups!)  Tom Foral has stayed plugged in to the actual acting community.  I'd like to keep track of books we've written.  We ought to pay attention to those who have died, even under tragic circumstances.  I'd like to post a lot of different voices.

Mary Strachan Scriver AKA  "Prairie Mary"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


We have no time to drill on techniques during rehearsals.  Each member of the company should reserve a few minutes a day to work on the 5-finger exercises of acting.  Work alone or in groups but master these techniques.  Our goal is the art that conceals art.  It will not conceal until it is perfect.  The following are reminders:
Direct tones to the front.  They should hit a point on the hard palate just behind all the upper front teeth.
Lift the head and toss words up and out.  From any point of the state, words should hit the backboard of the auditorium and bounce back.  Keep your chin up always.  Clear bright tones, no fuzzy edges -- that’s what we want.
To get this “up and out” tone, play the game of tossing a ball over a roof to someone on the other side, speaking lines as you do so, and tossing the ball on the last word.
Remember that in comedy lines must be tossed up with a bounce and a snap.  To get the idea, bounce a ball and catch on the last word.  The catch gives the little snap and hold that a comedy line must have.  Never permit yourself to get the least bit careless in this technique.  The release of laughter in your audience depends upon your success in this toss and catch technique.
Remember that lines must accumulate as they build to the end, in speed or in brightness or in intensity or even in volume.  Each line must have its climax: but remember, too, that lines must overlap until you come to the end of the thought.  Guard against over-phrasing.  Instead of breaking lines up into phrases, learn to lift up the important line in a line or group of sentences.  In finding the word, suppose a noise occurred during the speaking of a line: what word would you try to project above the noiseis order to convey the meaning of the line?
Don’t stop for commas after introductory words in a line such as:  well, now, so or even the name of the person spoken to.  Link them to the rest of the line immediately.
Work on articulation so that words have clear, distinct edges and yet see that speech is easy and not pedantic: tip of the tongue exercises should be practiced regularly.  “Tip of the tongue, the lips, the teeth,” lightly, crisply, swiftly spoken should hep you with this articulation.
Hold your vowels!  Consonants are uttered lightly and quickly.  Vowels give body to speech, quality, richness.  Hold them until they are clear and pure!  Don’t let the tone slide as you speak a vowel, hold it steady.  (Unless you are working for a special trait of character.)  Remember to open the mouth the width of two fingers for open vowel sounds.  Or you will have a speech that is all consonants.
Stick to the rule:  business and movement should end with the last word in a speech.  Avoid the tendency to wave your hands at the beginning of the line.  Let business and lines start easily and build to a clean, crisp finish.
Be sure to vocalize the first word of a line.  There is a tendency among you to just breathe the first words, Even though a line begins with the, see that you phonate it completely.  There is a general tendency among you to breathiness in speech.  Avoid it!  Vocalize, phonate.  Do a few me-me-me, mo-mo-mo’s before each performance and rehearsal.
Learn to walk with complete “follow-through.”  It is important that your toes carry out your step to their very tips.
Walk with a free, wide swing form the hips; long full strides’ continuity of movement.
Keep your hips under you; pull up, With arms stretched sideways, shoulder-high, do deep knee bends until you have acquired the feeling of “the pelvic girdle” and the stretched torso.  If you are to be dynamic on the stage, you must achieve this; it must be habitual.
Master of these outer techniques is the fundamental basis of acting with style.  It is the basis of artistry.  Once you have mastered these physical problems you can concentrate on a charcter and on response to situations.  Such mastery is the basis of relaxation and ease.
Hold words back until they are inevitable.  Check on this often --has the emotion built high enough, been repressed enough, to warrant vocal expression?  Have ideas grown until they are ready to be put into words?  Can your feeling be expressed in ways other than words?  If so, express them so and throw words away.
Total organic response is imperative at all times, complete response of your entire mechanism.  Be sure that words are not your sole response.  Remember that drama is conflict; it is emotion in conflict; emotion is physical.  Attraction toward, revulsion from, express this physically.  You go away from one thing, one idea, on person, towards something else; part of your body is pulled back while part is impelled forward;  express it physically.  You are caught between warring emotions, within or without -- anger at, love for, shame -- express it without words.  Suppose sound was drowned out for a time in the theatre: culd you play the existing conflict in pantomime.
To memorize correctly is imperative.  To memorize by rote is not only a waste of time but can produce the worst of vocal and thought habits.  Memorize by thought sequences and thought motivations and by inner improvisation of character.  Even though you are memorizing silently be the character thinking and responding to listeners, speakers and environment.  That is:  create motivation in characters and situation for the lines you are learning.  Memorize in sequences not in single lines. 
Concentrate hard on focus: Actors: project clearly the essential of the moment; allow time for the specific message to travel to the back of the auditorium.  Directors:  seek the right means of highlighting this impression. of throwing focus and of holding it.  Learn from the movies -- don’t be afraid to hold the camera on a movement until it is crystallized . . .  Give words time at climactic moment so reverberate in the auditorium.  In our mania for pace we too often miss this important element.  Master this are of achieving focus.

Thursday, July 12, 2012



Now I'm posting at this url.  I'm simply posting whatever notes I have that she wrote.  I suppose I can't resist commenting.  A few things need explaining.

Prairie Mary
Mary Strachan Scriver