Overheard at the American Theatre Wing

Overheard at the American Theatre Wing The American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Award and sponsor of many programs that promote live theatre, holds seminars in the fall and spring called Working in the Theatre. The seminars, chaired by ATW President Isabelle Stevenson, invite students; members of theatre unions; the casts of Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off Off-Broadway shows; and theatre lovers in general to hear all-star rosters of actors, directors, playwrights, producers and other theatreartists discuss the problems and rewards of working in the theatre. Below are excerpts from the spring 1997 seminar, compiled by ATW's Alan Hemingway.

The American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Award and sponsor of many programs that promote live theatre, holds seminars in the fall and spring called Working in the Theatre. The seminars, chaired by ATW President Isabelle Stevenson, invite students; members of theatre unions; the casts of Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off Off-Broadway shows; and theatre lovers in general to hear all-star rosters of actors, directors, playwrights, producers and other theatreartists discuss the problems and rewards of working in the theatre. Below are excerpts from the spring 1997 seminar, compiled by ATW's Alan Hemingway.

Dana Ivey: I am Southern, and the southern expression is very musical and lilting. I hear things when I read a script the inflections lead me into the play. The music is there first and shapes the structure.

Andre DeShields: It is the music we are always trying to hear in the theatre -- the first thing I looked for in Death of a Salesman was the music in Willy Loman -- the composition, the fabric of the play.

Willem Dafoe: In The Hairy Ape I looked at the text as music. It was through the rhythms that I found the subtext. Now I see how musical O'Neill really is.
I've had very little formal training. For me, the doing is the training. I don't think there is a difference between acting for the stage and film. After all, at its core, it's all pretending. Joel Grey: When I did the M.C. in Cabaret, I was having trouble finding the right approach. So I decided to copy someone I had seen in a club someone I totally disliked, had utter distaste for I was repulsed by him. After the first time I tried it in rehearsal, I was so embarrassed, so humiliated, that I ran to a corner and began to cry. Hal Prince walked over to me and said, "That's it."

Walter Bobbie: Bob Fosse, in his silence, is very much one of the authors. We needed to put forth the choreography as vocabulary. We wanted to make Chicago an homage to Fosse, so Ann Reinking and I stole from different shows throughout his career we honored his work.

Gene Saks: As a kid I was always fascinated with John Barrymore and his profile. In 1935 I did a drawing of him I worked on the nose for hours. Recently I came across it and gave it to Chris [Plummer] during rehearsals [of Barrymore]. Barrymore was our generation's Brando.