Friday, June 06, 2014

AK NOTES FROM THE BLUE BOOKS (Oct. 22 and 23, 1962)

C49-1  NOTES FROM THE BLUE BOOKS  (WB)    Oct.22, 1962

AssignmentMessengers -- to be ready for class presentation on Monday, October 29

Choose for now from the following:
     “Friends of this house . . .”  -- Oedipus Rex
     “Jocasta, our Queen . . .” -- Oedipus Rex
     “Fly, Medea, fly . . .”  -- Medea
     “I will tell you plainly all that I have seen.” -- Antigone

The function of the Messenger in Greek drama is to bring news of the final catastrophe to those waiting who are deeply concerned.  The character who serves as the Messenger is usually a servant or one closely connected with the household.  He is not a principal character;  further, he is not involved in the tragic action.  He has been an immediate witness of the fatal act.  He is compelled to carry the news immediately to those who are concerned with the outcome.  He is a messenger only; he has no specific name, indicating that he is not to be individualized as a character.

The Messenger’s scene is a climactic one: it brings on stage the horrendous event which has taken place off stage.  His tale must be told, even though the details are too hideous to be spoken.  What pours out is the ultimate in horror, but back of it is a well of horror so great that it cannot be vocalized.

Images are so vivid that they cannot be erased: like a moving picture, present even when the eyes are closed.  Sights, sounds, kinesthetic responses are as vivid as if they were still occurring before him.  However, he must tell it to those listeners whose very silence demands the entire truth, who are almost overcome with horror.

Capture the immediacy of the action, the compulsion to tell, the vividness of the images.

Remember always that lines are memorized to be forgotten.  Each time we speak words, we must first find them, formulate them and articulate them.  If you have no second language at your command, think of the particular sounds of another language, and use these to convey your thoughts.  Alternatively, revert to the origins of speech -- grunts, noises, unarticulated sounds -- keeping in mind always that these must be conveyed to the listener in such a manner that he will comprehend, and in a way that will force you both into many levels of concentration.  If these methods should fail, then while you are delivering the lines, multiply by 13’s or 17’s, or solve an intricate puzzle.  Try any or all of these exercises to discover those levels of concentration that operate behind the actual words of the text.


Those term papers assigned first this quarter will not be accepted after Friday of this week.  The grade of “F” will be recorded for those who fail to fulfill these written assignments on time.

ORAL STAGE FINALS begin on Monday, November 26th.  For the weeks of November 5th and 12th, present in class improvisations and episodes from the drama you are using for your stage final.  Your objective: development of character with the classic framework.

--Alvina E. Krause (wb)

(Personal note:  This is the assignment that put me out of acting.  I did the Medea Messenger, who comes to report the result of the poison gown Medea sent to Jason's bride.  The young woman died in terrible agony.  AK was determined to get me past being "vaguely worried."  She had me visualize a forest fire, since I was from Oregon.  (She taught in Seaside in her early years and was conscious of the Tillamook Burn, an enormous holocaust.)  Then I was really worried.  So she had Paula come onstage and be Medea.  She just wasn't scary enough.  Anyway, I was a half-unconscious kid.  If I were playing the Messenger now, from memory of a dog that died burning in terrible pain and writhing, I would be down on my knees, bent over, drooling and vomiting.  But that can be overdone as well.  Sometimes shock is paralyzing -- makes you go into a kind of trance.  Which way to play it would depend on the director and the whole approach to the play.)

AK  10-23   Objectives

George Kimoulis and Peggy Trikalioti

Know the character-objective of each scene, and achieve that objective.  Know the desire of the character within the sequence; then, as the character, fulfill that desire.  You are still -- almost all of you -- acting in general.  The Antigone-Creon scene (Love-Winkleman) yesterday was a supreme example of acting in general, with its empty emotionalization signifying nothing.  if your minds and bodies are fully occupied, you will be completely engrossed in fulfilling an objective -- not in playing an emotion that you have assumed accompanies the words.  Hereafter, before you start a sequence on stage, state briefly and succinctly in action verbs the objectives of the character you play in the particular place and for the particular reasons the playwright has given.

For instance, Antigone’s objective is to justify her act by (1) acknowledging it publicly, (2) advocating publicly God’s law, (3) convicting Creon of folly, (4) approaching directly the minds of others, and (5) choosing death.  Another example is the Chorus’ objective: to condemn anarchy by (1) extolling man’s achievements, the highest of which is the creation of law and order (the state), and (2) supporting law and order.

Once you are truly concerned with achieving the specific objective, once you concentrate -- in character -- on that achievement, it is certain that a particular feeling will be aroused, not the general hysteria of yesterday’s Antigone.  What should be there is the specific, greater, deeper indignation of the true Antigone.

Never again let me see you take up positions downstage right or left -- or anywhere else -- unless a specific purpose has brought you there at a specific moment for a specific reason.  You saw how dynamic the action became, and how alive the whole stage became when Niki and Carlos played with purpose.  If the actor is fully engrossed in achieving the objective of the character by the means the playwright gives, then the action becomes credible and vital.  Achieve this intensity of attention on real objectives, and the inevitable emotional response will also be true.

If you want to continue working on Creon-Antigone-Ismene scenes in class, present new sequences.  In four weeks we have reached a stalemate in class discussion of these opening scenes.  If you want to submit the old scenes for discussion, they must be done for me privately during office hours listed on my door.


NOTE:  Early this quarter, I reserved the stage for your use on all Tuesdays at 1 PM.  since then, I have observed that it is not being used by you.  Shall I then assume you do not want or need the use of it and release it for the use by other students who do need rehearsal space?  If you can and will use this space at the time I have indicated, notify me to that effect at once.

ADD TO YOUR FINAL EXAM PAPERS:  A statement, in active verbs, of the character objectives in the scenes you will present for your final stage performance.

--Alvina E. Krause (wb)

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