NOW IN IT'S 18th INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED YEAR!
The solo performance play about HAROLD CLURMAN
The most influential figure in the history of the American Theatre
Director / Drama Critic / Co-founder of The Group Theatre
Harold Clurman's reflections on:
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The main thing in life is to esteem yourself. If you don't esteem yourself, you can't esteem others.
I could only sum everything up by saying that the theatre is indestructible - and incorrigible. Indestructible because the theatre, even under the worst circumstances - severe censorship or total suppression - has always been present. It fulfills a need inherent in mankind. It is essentially a celebration, and as its chroniclers tell us it has often served as a form of religious rite - akin to worship. What I have chiefly gathered from my days in the theatre apart from the excitement of its adventure - is that no matter when I inveigh against it for failing to answer its mission, I speak with tongue in cheek. In the theatre at least, we are all innocents.
Good directing gets absorbed into the performance. If you have a good script and a good cast, 50 percent of the director's work is done. My idea of direction is to be invisible, to seem as if I'm not directing at all.
A certain eminent gentleman of my acquaintance, Samuel Johnson, is disparaging about actors: "Actors merely recite." The actor can be, should be, a creative artist. They should have a voice capable of great range, good speech, a good body - with great pliancy, energy and springiness. Most important, an actor should have flexibility of temperament. He must be able to react to stimuli, to go from hot to cold. Next, what is his interpretation? He doesn't act alone, except in recitals. Interpretation creates something bigger than the object.
The less theatre we have, the more prizes are awarded.
On Theatre People
Never forget that we people in the theatre are artists - and as artists we must dream and when we dream, we dream of money.
On Theatre Patrons
I think everybody should go to the theatre once a month, at least. If you don't, you are benighted, not cultured, philistine. I don't care how much money you have in the bank, you don't belong with civilized people. You should be put on exhibition!
One mustn't be afraid of death. That doesn't mean you should death or pain. Certain things that are painful must be gone through. If you can't accept that, you will never mature. I assume every day I'm going to die. The greatest achievement is being here this very minute. I want to live a thousand years - out of curiosity. If I found that the world was going to end, do you know what I would do? I would take a girl to dinner.
A critic should know the major works of drama of almost all nations from the Greeks to contemporary drama. He should know the history of theatre, and literature in general - from Homer on. He should also read the very best critics of literature and drama from Aristotle to Hazlitt and Shaw. He should know a good deal about music, dance, architecture, painting, world history and the history of his country. He should know people. To judge acting, you must be able to judge people. He should have a philosophy, an attitude, toward life. Do you want to know what the qualifications are to be a director? Same things! I've always criticized critics because I feel too much attention is paid to them by readers. Approach all reviews, including my own, with a great deal of skepticism. When certain reviewers agree with me, I think I'm probably wrong. If a critic says, "I like it," that's not a criticism. Who is the "I" who likes it? He may be an imbecile. A critic should somehow make clear his artistic disposition. What does "like" mean? I like candy. I like different things in different ways. What is "it?" The most important thing a critic can do is to describe and explain "it," as objectively as he can, using his own sensibility, feeling, personality, view of life, heart, gut, stomach, and eye. With so few newspapers, people tend to look to critics as consumer guides. I know very few plays worth $20. Is Duse appearing in a new play by Shakespeare? I want to go! I'll have to read my review first before I tell you what I think.
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