Cricket's Notebook "Wedsday, 30 March, 2005 2:40 p m: <BR>"Critical quotes"</"

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Wednesday, 30 March, 2005 2:40 p m:
"Critical Quotes"

I've read a book.
I don't have enough time to Just Read these days, and I read mostly on the T riding to and from plays or blood-checks. But a while ago Joe Coyne gave me a book: UNDER THE COPPER BEACH: Conversations with American Theater Critics" edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins. It took me a while to get around to it (I read the Humphries translations of both Ovid's THE ART OF LOVE and his METAMORPHOSES first), but once I started this was as addictive as candy. And eventually, I began dog-earing little quotes that I thought Mirror readers might find pertinent.
I thought it might be fun to share them with you, but just as I was typing this I decided it would be even better to keep this bit of The Cricket's Notebook a complete collection of my gleanings, maybe with personal notes added, and to put them up one each day or so. so here goes:

The first is an exchange between SATURDAY REVIEW critic Henry Hewes and his interviewer Tish Dace. They are talking not about Bill Marx nor about Thomas Garvey, but about their apparent role model John Simon:

HEWES:
Harold Clurman used to say that John Simon was too vicious to be a good critic. John is terrific in his knowledge of the theater. Yet when he writes he always seems to be trying hard to write something that's going to attract attention, and it shows. He also enjoys making personal remarks about actors and actresses. If an actress isn't quite as pretty as he would like, he attacks her. Ellen Stewart told me that one of her actresses wanted to commit suicide after something John wrote about her. When this actress was going to appear in another show, Ellen called Simon and asked him please to not come. I don't know whether or not he honored that.
DACE:
When I was 21 and right out of college I went to Stratford, Conn. to see KING LEAR (1963 with Morris Carnovsky) with John Simon and a couple of friends. ... I enjoyed the production. I had some criticisms, but it certainly was not a terrible production. But then I had to drive back to New York with John Simon, and the entire way back he sliced, shredded, decimated every aspect of that production. And I thought to myself, "This man doesn't like theater." I was astonished that someone who goes to the theater expecting to dislike it could be a critic. Where's the critical objectivity in that?
IN
UNDER THE COPPER BEACH: Conversations with American Theater Critics"
edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins.
Copyright 2004 by Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association

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Clara Hieronymous, Nashville Theater critic, interviewed by Damien Jaques:

JAQUES:
Why be a theater critic instead of a film critic or a music critic?
HIERONYMOUS:
Ah, no comparison between film and stage. The film actor is acting for a camera and there is no interplay. Whereas a play on the stage is a kind of give and take between audience and the actors. And the actors are well aware of how the audience is receiving them. You think, "Well, they are being quiet." But the actor knows, and depending on the audience, the play may be one thing one night and another thing another night.
So it is a living thing. And then what we have in terms of script is not available to you in film. The director or "auteur", or whoever shapes it, has made it smoething else.
JAQUES:
How has the theater changed in the 40 years that you have been a theater critic?
HIERONYMOUS:
It has become much more oriented to musical theater, which means that people want more superficial entertainment. Not all musicals are superficial, I don't mean that. But in terms of the person going to the theater, they seem to want to be entertained with music and dance, and not so much with a straight dramatic role or script. I think that's maybe been the major change --- and yet you can think of musicals that have been both powerful drama as well as music like "Les Miserables" for example.
...
JAQUES:
Has acting changed in the years that you have been in print?
HIERONYMOUS
I haven't seen so many changes. Maybe before I became a critic when acting was a little more actorish --- in the sense of overacting. We've become more interested in a kind of natiralistic style, and let the words and the implication carry the script. I think that might be the major change. Certainly good actors have always ben here, and always will be, despite the changes in style.

IN
UNDER THE COPPER BEACH: Conversations with American Theater Critics"
edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins.
Copyright 2004 by Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Ann Holmes in Houston TX, interviewed by Sylvie Drake:

HOLMES [Speaking of a grant to watch Pirandello's "Right You Are if You Think You Are" in Houston:
"I took off another six weeks, didn't go tk the office --- I had an assistant filling in for me --- and sat with Nina { } day in and day out.
In that period of time --- and this is an important point that I would like to make, because it sort of summarizes for me what happened --- I began to think that a critic's job was too much of a parasitical one. We fed off of what other people did, and I thought we should be doing something more creative ourselves. Even though you were hoping your article was creative, it just wasn't contributing enough, I thought.
While I sat with Nina, I saw the notes and everything --- in every case --- that were given at the end of each day. On the night of the opening, she said "Let's sit here in the wings." We did, and she brought out a bottle of booze --- we were gonna have at it --- and she said "Alright, Madame Critic, how is the show?" And I said, "Nina, I haven't any idea. You know why?" And she said, "No, you're the critic, you're supposed to know."
And I said "Not now. You have created, and I have been with you, an artificial world. This is a universe of its own. It starts with a little bare bulb,and it goes on into other lighting and gets on its feet. The show gets developed, polished, it crreates its own relationships, it has nothing to do with what's happening in the actual world --- whether its raining or sunny, whether the people are having an earthquake or what. It's a universe apart, and its in relation to nothing except itself."
We had to wait for the critic's report, which was like hitting a ball against a wall. It comes back to you, hopefully, with the same kind of thrust that you gave it. The point to me was, that they critic has to know as much as the artists know. The critic has to be as good as possible in intellectual and instinctive response.
Suddenly, it was like an epiphany for me. I thought, "I DON'T think it's a parasitical form." It's only parasitical if you're just riding on the coattails of your title, not studying to know as much as you should. I suddenly realized this is a field to take enormous pride in. It's because you are part of the process, and you know, nothing had brought it home to me quite as much as this sit-in experience. I felt all those other years I had been an outsider --- and I was. I didn't really feel that I belonged to it. Now I do. A critic is a vital part of the process.
...
[Speaking about early years with The American Theater Critics Association]
What that did, in those early years, was suddenly open up the breadth of the American theater, and where we stood. That had been a bedeviling thing to me, "Where does the local theater I am reviewing fit into the whole American scene?" It's so big, this country. I mean I suppose if we were in France or England it would be different. You could zip out to Chichester very easily in England. Here, though, it's quite a trip if you're in Texas to go to Oregon, or L>A> or Providence. But we got to do all of that! What a terrific education that has been!

IN
"UNDER THE COPPER BEACH: Conversations with American Theater Critics"
edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins.
Copyright 2004 by Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN
UNDER THE COPPER BEACH: Conversations with American Theater Critics"
edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins.
Copyright 2004 by Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

in

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IN
UNDER THE COPPER BEACH: Conversations with American Theater Critics"
edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins.
Copyright 2004 by Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Love,
===Anon.


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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