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American Conservatory Theater actors talk with Studs Terkel ; part 2

BROADCAST: 1967 | DURATION: 00:00:01

Synopsis

Terkel interviews four principle actors from the American Conservatory Theater: Richard A. Dicer, Robin Gammell, Renee Obajinhua, and Janis Young. This is an interview done in two parts.

Transcript

Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.

OK

Studs Terkel We pick up where we left off yesterday. It's, it was too good. We can't quit, as, oh, Chet Wrobel used to say, "You can't quit when the wind is with you," [laughing] and the wind is with us here with these four remarkable actors.

Rene Auberjonois Full

Robin Gammell Full!

Studs Terkel Full of wind,

Rene Auberjonois and-- And

Studs Terkel And full of a great deal of creativity are our four guests this morning, my four guests. Going counter-clockwise or clockwise is Rene Auberjonois, Robin Gammell, Richard A. Dysart and Janice Young. And I think I need not tell the audience listening this morning, I'm sure a great many have been to Ravinia to the Murray Theater to see the American Conservatory Theater. Some of their productions, if not all, and have seen one or all of these actors at work on that stage, and there's a tremendous electricity involved, and the audience, of course, naturally comes out enriched, which is what theater is all about. We, we left off yesterday, that cliffhanger, we're talking about how a repertory theater differs from a commercial Broadway theater, and Robin was raising the point of what would have happened to Death of a Salesman, Lee Cobb's memorable performance since he was a slow, I guess following roughly what could be described as Stanislavski technique, taking his time, and he might not have made it, he might have been bumped were it not for special circumstances. This is one of the dangers, isn't it, that a repertory theater doesn't have to face.

Richard Dysart That's true. That's true.

Studs Terkel Richard Dysart.

Richard Dysart You don't, that, that pressure, that--well, I call it the producer's pressure, because he certainly is working under a great many pressures. In a repertory situation, he doesn't--the director, for instance, Bill Ball, with this, with our company doesn't put that pressure onto the actor, he'll allow the actor to go at his own pace, to work in his own way, define the life as it really should be. As it comes, you know, what, what goes, goes, and you just swing with it.

Rene Auberjonois He also doesn't consider--I'm sorry.

Richard Dysart No, and he'll allow that to happen. He also--go ahead, I think I know what you're going to say, go ahead, Rene.

Rene Auberjonois The idea about, there is no such thing as an opening night. Well, that's fine to say, there is no such thing as an opening night. Of course, the first time you get in front of an audience, that's your opening night, baby. But it's true that I don't think any of our shows have ever really had an opening in the sense that they were really ready to open. I mean, or that we thought they were finished once they were open. You know, if a show opens in New York, it better be finished. It better be ready to, to become a hit and sell, or else it's gonna die. But a lot of our shows, you know, will open and then we're aware of the fact that, that you've got to leave time for them to grow. And I know when we opened Charley's Aunt in Stanford it, it wasn't--it was an opening as far as my nerves were concerned, but if I had thought that that was going to be it and that my whole performance as, as Fancourt Babberley was going to ride on that opening night and gonna stay there, well, I guess I'd have to give up acting, because I'm, I wasn't ready and I, I, I could look forward to making the role grow, you know, which is a--

Studs Terkel Since Rene Auberjonois has to leave in a few moments to appear in some other program, perhaps we could just dwell on this for a moment. You were Charley's Aunt, this is a--you've been described by one of the critics and all as a protean performer--

Rene Auberjonois What does that mean?

Studs Terkel Oh, that's a Greek word meaning--

Rene Auberjonois Robin wouldn't [unitelligible] what it meant. I asked Robin but he wouldn't tell me.

Robin Gammell It means the husk of the grain I think. [laughing]

Studs Terkel But coming to Fancourt Babberley, Charley's Aunt. He also does Lear and also does Tartuffe, as well as one of the figures in, in Endgame. You

Robin Gammell Oh yeah, he does all the comic parts. [laughing]

Studs Terkel All the comic parts. But thinking about what you do, earlier you talked about bonus props. You spoke of bonus pr -- if I could use the word prop now literally. Props. What you did with props is quite, you made the prop an extension of you almost, whether it's the fan or the flowers or the pouring of the -- this too becomes part of the

Rene Auberjonois It's funny, you know, you're talking about props, there are some, some props, and then there are some props. The fan, for me, as, as Charley's Aunt, I don't know if I could do the show if I didn't have the fan. Now, that is, perhaps, a weakness in, in the, in the performance. I don't care.

Richard Dysart No, no.

Rene Auberjonois But I can't, I can't imagine it is so much a part of my hand and of what I'm doing. I mean, I could do it without the cigar, I could do it without the harp, I could do it without the wig probably, you know, but I, that fan, I, I'm, I'm, I'm hysterical about that fan, you should see me at half-hour running around making sure that it's all glued tight because I flip it so hard, it has a tendency to break, and you know, if I--I could never, I know I could never get on stage without it. There are some props you worry about, getting in and you say, "Oh, I've got to make sure I have that letter, or I've got to make sure I have this." I couldn't ever go on stage without it. It would be like going on with leaving my foot in the wings.

Studs Terkel You know, talking about Rene's fan, as Charley's Aunt, as much was said of Louis Armstrong, that his trumpet, the cornet was an extension of himself, or Jack Teagarden's trombone, an extension of him. In a sense you in this role, this fan is an extension of you, becomes part of your body, of your physical being.

Rene Auberjonois Yeah, it is very, you

Studs Terkel But the acrobatics involved, we use this, too, the--you know, the phrase "total actor" is used an awful lot, you know, and it's a marvelous phrase, but Kenneth Tynan says the next day it will be "total theater," theater involving, in which the actor is not only just a verbal and oral man, we're so accustomed to psychological, his will be everything, you know, the actor will be juggler, as in the, in the classic sense. In a way Rene

Robin Gammell That's a mar- that's a marvelous optimism.

Rene Auberjonois Yeah, God knows we all wish that, you know, I, I don't think there's anything I wish more than that I could play the piano or do, or juggle, I was in a show once where a guy juggled, and it killed me, I wanted to juggle so badly, and I wish I could as an actor, I know, you know, [match striking] I could use it a hundred times, and in things that had nothing to do with juggling, but also I would love to be able to juggle on the stage. I would love to be able to, to play a harmonica on the stage.

Studs Terkel But I, I notice this with all of you, you all have this quality. Even the way you do it, even last night watching Richard Dysart as, as Talton or Robin in his tantrums you know or Janice in -- there's some behavior, it's not--it's more than just the oral actor. There is almost a dance at times, there's almost a choreography, this is the direction, too, but also the performance too, isn't it? There's an agility that I haven't quite seen before in a company.

Richard Dysart Well, there, there again we go back to the idea of being allowed to work, or being allowed to find it. Finding that character within yourself.

Janice Young Oh yes, taking chances, my gosh. When you have the freedom to, to experiment, both time-wise because you're not a five-week thing, and because you have that security, well, you know, there are a lot of things you can develop, like your fan or juggling even if you would have

Robin Gammell Or oral theater.

Janice Young What?

Rene Auberjonois Or oral theater. There are so many things you do in rehearsal, that if you did them on the stage or the director thought you were going to do them on the stage, you'd probably be quietly carried away. But out of those things, you know, you can, you can arrive at marvelous things like Dick's little dance steps [unintelligible]. These are things that the actor almost doesn't think about I think, you know, you're not even aware of it until someone says it.

Richard Dysart Being in a repertory, just use the phrase, the word, the, the action of juggling, so to speak. In a repertory situation, Bill Ball would say, "All right now, we're going to do this play. Rene is going to do this role, and Rene, in this role, you know, the character juggles. So you'll juggle." And Rene would learn to juggle. Under a Broadway situation, same play, act--Rene would be called in to meet the director, the casting people, and the first question out of their mouth would be, "Do you juggle?" "Do you juggle?" And he'd say, "No," "Okay, well, we'll see you next time we're doing a play."

Robin Gammell That

Studs Terkel Yeah, that hasn't a juggler.

Richard Dysart Or they might go out and hire a juggler who can't act.

Rene Auberjonois Yeah,

Robin Gammell True, yes..

Richard Dysart Bring on the seals.

Studs Terkel So again it's the use of the whole person.

Robin Gammell Yeah, and his, and his potential.

Studs Terkel And his potential, this phrase, and his potential. Only in a repertory company would this be possible.

Rene Auberjonois I never knew how to stand on my head until I did a show once at Arena Stage there. I had to, I had never been able to do it in my life, and then I realized I had to do it. So, I, I did it, and then, you know it's the--

Robin Gammell Well it's, the marvelous thing about the theater is that I know that in the theater, and I suppose the analogy can go for anyone's lifelong involvement in any occupation he has, that I know I've learned more about life from being in the theater from the things that have been demanded from me from the theater, I've learned more life in the theater than I would anywhere else. I'm sure this is the same for anyone in any, in any avocation that they take. And the marvelous thing about repertory so far is that it has demanded things that I've not, I've not explored yet.

Studs Terkel This is an interesting--

Robin Gammell You know you're not just using--there, there goes my microphone. [laughing] All right, kids. You're leaving in five minutes, I'll move over in your place.

Studs Terkel You were talking, Rene, since you're leaving short--Robin's point about learning more from life in the theater, this is a reversal. You know, generally you know that art reflects life, art mirrors life, you know, as it were, whether--but the fact is, here's a question of, of life itself. Mirroring--you've learned, because perhaps of a, a great writer like Pirandello or a Chekhov or a contemporary

Robin Gammell Well, some people will say that, that actors and the theater world is a terribly insulated world, and in a sense, that's true. I think that actors now are trying to break that and become more aware of the world, because you do have a tendency to become so involved in yourself, because an actor is a selfish being, and what you're doing that -- but it, it's very true that you--but learning--did you say, Robin? [laughing]

Studs Terkel You got the microphone, baby.

Robin Gammell What did you say?

Studs Terkel You're

Robin Gammell Well, I've totally lost that point. I think it's time for me to

Richard Dysart He has to go elsewhere and do another show.

Robin Gammell I've got to go stammer on the-- We finished two hours, we finished two hour span of

Studs Terkel Just, just to give, just to give Rene Auberjonois a chance to recoup, to, to, to recapture his dignity, his sense of

Robin Gammell dignity. Go

Rene Auberjonois Please. Go on. No

Studs Terkel What's that wonderful line you had last night about infidelity, about you respect your wife, you don't--I'm talking now to Richard

Rene Auberjonois Right.

Studs Terkel In, you don't, she must--you, you respect her dignity or you would sacrifice your own.

Richard Dysart I respect her--I reserve her dignity, even though I'll sacrifice my own.

Robin Gammell And the marvelous thing about a wife, what about this marvelous thing about--

Rene Auberjonois Well, I'm going to reserve my dignity by leaving.

Studs Terkel One last

Rene Auberjonois Oh, you're not going to let me go, are you?

Studs Terkel One last, one last comment by Rene. About directing. We forget also that you do many things in the theater, Rene Auberjonois directed Beyond the Fringe. This I have to ask you one question before you go. This Beyond the Fringe I haven't seen yet, presents a problem. It did here for the national company. Of course, here are four performers, Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett, who wrote, created the roles, they were the creators and doing it, and when five-four good actors came and did it, it wasn't quite right. They were carbon copies. So we were seeing, what it seemed--it wasn't their fault,

Rene Auberjonois No, it was put together by a stage manager.

Studs Terkel Now, this is quite a challenge, isn't it? To you, I know you and Robin--

Rene Auberjonois Yeah, we all, I think we all decided when we started to work on it that it was such personal material that the only way to make it work was to make it just as personal to us as it was to the original four guys, even though they wrote it. It's why we do a certain amount of ad-libbing and, you know, trying to, to mold the material to ourselves. And I think it's the only way that we could have ever succeeded in making the audience enjoy it as a new experience. A lot of people have seen it before. That shouldn't scare people from seeing it again, because it does change so much, you know.

Robin Gammell I think we approached it as actors, also.

Rene Auberjonois Right, which

Robin Gammell And not, and not, and, and maybe since you've made the comment, not as actors who are replacements. You know, I'm sure the other, the other four, given the opportunity of seeing this as a set script and then, then interpreting it and molding it would be just as successful.

Studs Terkel Almost. Amost.

Rene Auberjonois I've really got to go. I'm

Studs Terkel Rene Auberjonois, thank you very much.

Rene Auberjonois Thank

Studs Terkel To be seen several more times in Charley's Aunt?

Rene Auberjonois Right. Oh,

Janice Young Oh, yeah.

Studs Terkel And Beyond the Fringe, and Endgame, of course.

Richard Dysart And Under Milkwood.

Studs Terkel And Under Milkwood.

Rene Auberjonois Okay.

Robin Gammell See you in rehearsal.

Rene Auberjonois See you at rehearsal.

Janice Young Bye-bye! So long.

Studs Terkel With the name Auberjonois, we have to say "Au revoir." [laughing] You mentioned Under Milkwood. Now, this is one of the bonus productions of, of the Actors Conservatory Theater extended two weeks. And of course, this has been heard on the station many times, the recordings and the beautiful fantastic wild poetry and compassion of Dylan Thomas. How do you appro--Under Milkwood, are you Captain Cat, Richard Dysart?

Richard Dysart Yes.

Studs Terkel Oh, you would have to be. I just thought. And Janice?

Janice Young Polly Garter.

Studs Terkel You're Polly, I guessed she was Polly Garter, she had to be Polly Garter.

Janice Young Love those babies!

Studs Terkel As well as several other roles?

Janice Young Oh yeah, everybody has five roles

Studs Terkel And Robin, are you narrator, I'm just gussing?

Robin Gammell I was, and am, and play Waldo and, let's see, Mr. Pugh, and--

Janice Young Dai Bread?

Robin Gammell Dai Bread --no,

Studs Terkel So we, so practically the whole cast is in, in -- in Under Milkwood, just about most of the company

Richard Dysart No, they are, there are a multitude of roles, and but they are shared by six--

Robin Gammell Six characters, yeah, there's something--

Richard Dysart And two narrators.

Janice Young Eight, eight characters and two

Richard Dysart So these four or five people will play four or five different roles.

Studs Terkel So some people, this is the way it was done on BBC-2, but some, some listeners I know and Chicagoans have seen, you were on, you did a TV production, didn't

Robin Gammell That's right, for

Studs Terkel And they spoke

Robin Gammell Was it NET? No, it was the-- yeah, it was educational television in New York, which was given.

Studs Terkel But they about as quite marvelous. Here again we come to what, we come to another kind of theater, it's almost a long poem, really, isn't it? And this finds its own style. Who directed this? Did, did--

Robin Gammell It's an original, it's an original production, the original production concept is Bill Ball's. When we first did it in Pittsburgh, it was directed by, it was staged by--

Richard Dysart Bill Young.

Robin Gammell Bill Young, and this current staging is being done by Byron Ringland.

Studs Terkel Who

Robin Gammell But it's still, who did--

Janice Young But it's such a definitive production, physically, that it, you do have to, it is Bill's.

Robin Gammell Definitive, well, I mean, we think it's definitive, but, you know, it's so marked, the production is so individ--is, is such an original concept.

Janice Young Yeah,

Studs Terkel Coming back to, to Bill Ball, this is interesting, there are various credits given to various directors, there's a, obvious a sharing of credits here, yet in all of them his hallmark is there, isn't it?

Robin Gammell Not in all.

Janice Young No, not in all.

Robin Gammell There are some, there are some productions that he did that he wanted to gather together under one roof. Six Characters was an original production of his, Charley's Aunt was even an original production of his, although in this, in this case it has no, no relationship to, to Bill's original production. Milkwood is a, is a production of his. I would say in Six Characters and Milkwood, the original concept is still there, but adapted and changed.

Studs Terkel And, yet, even though Alan Fletcher directed Chekhov, Uncle Vanya, in fact we know that Ball is a marvelous Chekhovian director. He's known for his Ivanov you know, that

Robin Gammell Right, but Vanya, but Vanya has no, it's only because Bill likes the play. The production has no, I don't think, any relationship to any

Studs Terkel So there's an interesting, the venture itself is a fantastic one. There is a what, there's a mixture of all sorts of talents. We have this creative guy, this fantastic figure Ball, who may disagree with you, well, we'll talk about this in a moment, too, the excitement of conflict that happens here too, particularly with Robin, and Bill Ball, he brought it up when we were off the air. But there is this gathering of, of different approaches, isn't there, all, all the time? The openness of it.

Robin Gammell Yeah. Yeah.

Studs Terkel Open-end

Robin Gammell Open-end theater.

Richard Dysart Yes, open end in that respect that nothing is, nothing is "You do this now. Now do that." You know, it's, it, it finds its own life.

Robin Gammell The thing I've been interested in, we've, we've talked, there's been a great talk about freedom and about, about ferment and whatnot. I'm also very interested in the, at times very interested in the, in the idea of telling an actor, "Go on stage and do it." I think this, within our, within our context, it may be an interesting experiment to say, "Start, start at 10 o'clock and perform." I mean--

Janice Young What do you mean? I don't understand. You mean in rehearsal?

Robin Gammell No, I'm hedging.

Studs Terkel Well, no, let's stick with this point. Earlier Robin was talking about his disagreement with Ball on certain approaches and this very conflict itself lends to a certain excitement.

Robin Gammell Well, it all, how do you, I don't know how you, how we can create, because you say, "Don't leave it in the gym." We talked about this in the, in the, in the five-minute break I, I have an emotional response when, when I keep on hearing, oh, what is it? "Push it beyond it's, push it beyond it's"--

Studs Terkel Oh, reveal yourself!

Robin Gammell Reveal

Studs Terkel Don't be afraid to be vulnerable.

Robin Gammell Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Well, at times my emotional response is, "Nonsense. Why should I? Why should I be vulnerable? Why shouldn't I, why shouldn't I protect myself and be defensive?" But I think in the same, same breath as you're saying this quite openly, you're rele--you were revealing yourself as being vulnerable. You know.

Richard Dysart Yes. Well, you always are vulnerable, just by, just by being

Robin Gammell By having an emotional response to, to what somebody says you are. Although one objects to the, at times, the phraseology. And I do. I get, I get annoyed.

Studs Terkel You get sore and yet you are vulnerable because you're human being. If you were a stick, only I guess only a stick of wood, or only an actor, let's say, who was just--who is placed as such--

Robin Gammell You wouldn't care what he said. I mean, we were talking, we were talking about--what brought this up was we were talking about certain statements. Well, if you weren't vulnerable and you didn't care, you know, the statement, statements could be made, oh, six, 17 times a day and you wouldn't know what the statements were. But I think the interesting thing about Bill is he's capable of holding people around him who can, when it, when it becomes personally necessary, to, to disagree. But you've got to do it in the open. And that's what he

Studs Terkel An image came to my mind you're saying "invulnerable." I think a performer in a TV commercial is invulnerable. That is, what he says is wholly meaningless, it's wholly meaningless. He has words, a product, a cigarette, that we know is deleterious. And he says it with a smile and it's great, it's a man's cigarette.

Robin Gammell But even in, but even in, but even in commercials you get, you can get some marvelous performances in commercials.

Richard Dysart Yes, but they come out of what is required to sell a product.

Robin Gammell All right. But I mean, why shouldn't, why shouldn't we accept that discipline? If, if there are marvelous performances in commercials, and I've seen some delightful things, advertisements, it's, it points out the fact that even though you've got something definite to sell, and even though you can only be on that, on the, on the air for 60 seconds or a two-second spot, I don't know how long the spots are, if you can get a good performance in a commercial that still means no matter what the discipline is, if you've got a good performer and he clicks, his

Studs Terkel Great, great. But I'm going to raise a point with you right now and I think perhaps Richard Dysart may have been thinking the same thing. There's something called audience, now this -- audience theater has audience and performers, doesn't it? That's a rapport here, there has to be something, amusement, you're--

Richard Dysart Now,

Studs Terkel

Richard Dysart We pick up where we left off yesterday. It's, it was too good. We can't quit, as, oh, Chet Wrobel used to say, "You can't quit when the wind is with you," [laughing] and the wind is with us here with these four remarkable actors. Full Full! Full of wind, and-- And And full of a great deal of creativity are our four guests this morning, my four guests. Going counter-clockwise or clockwise is Rene Auberjonois, Robin Gammell, Richard A. Dysart and Janice Young. And I think I need not tell the audience listening this morning, I'm sure a great many have been to Ravinia to the Murray Theater to see the American Conservatory Theater. Some of their productions, if not all, and have seen one or all of these actors at work on that stage, and there's a tremendous electricity involved, and the audience, of course, naturally comes out enriched, which is what theater is all about. We, we left off yesterday, that cliffhanger, we're talking about how a repertory theater differs from a commercial Broadway theater, and Robin was raising the point of what would have happened to Death of a Salesman, Lee Cobb's memorable performance since he was a slow, I guess following roughly what could be described as Stanislavski technique, taking his time, and he might not have made it, he might have been bumped were it not for special circumstances. This is one of the dangers, isn't it, that a repertory theater doesn't have to face. That's true. That's true. Richard Dysart. You don't, that, that pressure, that--well, I call it the producer's pressure, because he certainly is working under a great many pressures. In a repertory situation, he doesn't--the director, for instance, Bill Ball, with this, with our company doesn't put that pressure onto the actor, he'll allow the actor to go at his own pace, to work in his own way, define the life as it really should be. As it comes, you know, what, what goes, goes, and you just swing with it. He also doesn't consider--I'm sorry. No, and he'll allow that to happen. He also--go ahead, I think I know what you're going to say, go ahead, Rene. The idea about, there is no such thing as an opening night. Well, that's fine to say, there is no such thing as an opening night. Of course, the first time you get in front of an audience, that's your opening night, baby. But it's true that I don't think any of our shows have ever really had an opening in the sense that they were really ready to open. I mean, or that we thought they were finished once they were open. You know, if a show opens in New York, it better be finished. It better be ready to, to become a hit and sell, or else it's gonna die. But a lot of our shows, you know, will open and then we're aware of the fact that, that you've got to leave time for them to grow. And I know when we opened Charley's Aunt in Stanford it, it wasn't--it was an opening as far as my nerves were concerned, but if I had thought that that was going to be it and that my whole performance as, as Fancourt Babberley was going to ride on that opening night and gonna stay there, well, I guess I'd have to give up acting, because I'm, I wasn't ready and I, I, I could look forward to making the role grow, you know, which is a-- Since Rene Auberjonois has to leave in a few moments to appear in some other program, perhaps we could just dwell on this for a moment. You were Charley's Aunt, this is a--you've been described by one of the critics and all as a protean performer-- What does that mean? Oh, that's a Greek word meaning-- Robin wouldn't [unitelligible] what it meant. I asked Robin but he wouldn't tell me. It means the husk of the grain I think. [laughing] But coming to Fancourt Babberley, Charley's Aunt. He also does Lear and also does Tartuffe, as well as one of the figures in, in Endgame. You -- Oh yeah, he does all the comic parts. [laughing] All the comic parts. But thinking about what you do, earlier you talked about bonus props. You spoke of bonus pr -- if I could use the word prop now literally. Props. What you did with props is quite, you made the prop an extension of you almost, whether it's the fan or the flowers or the pouring of the -- this too becomes part of the -- It's funny, you know, you're talking about props, there are some, some props, and then there are some props. The fan, for me, as, as Charley's Aunt, I don't know if I could do the show if I didn't have the fan. Now, that is, perhaps, a weakness in, in the, in the performance. I don't care. No, no. But I can't, I can't imagine it is so much a part of my hand and of what I'm doing. I mean, I could do it without the cigar, I could do it without the harp, I could do it without the wig probably, you know, but I, that fan, I, I'm, I'm, I'm hysterical about that fan, you should see me at half-hour running around making sure that it's all glued tight because I flip it so hard, it has a tendency to break, and you know, if I--I could never, I know I could never get on stage without it. There are some props you worry about, getting in and you say, "Oh, I've got to make sure I have that letter, or I've got to make sure I have this." I couldn't ever go on stage without it. It would be like going on with leaving my foot in the wings. You know, talking about Rene's fan, as Charley's Aunt, as much was said of Louis Armstrong, that his trumpet, the cornet was an extension of himself, or Jack Teagarden's trombone, an extension of him. In a sense you in this role, this fan is an extension of you, becomes part of your body, of your physical being. Yeah, it is very, you know. But the acrobatics involved, we use this, too, the--you know, the phrase "total actor" is used an awful lot, you know, and it's a marvelous phrase, but Kenneth Tynan says the next day it will be "total theater," theater involving, in which the actor is not only just a verbal and oral man, we're so accustomed to psychological, his will be everything, you know, the actor will be juggler, as in the, in the classic sense. In a way Rene approach-- That's a mar- that's a marvelous optimism. Yeah, God knows we all wish that, you know, I, I don't think there's anything I wish more than that I could play the piano or do, or juggle, I was in a show once where a guy juggled, and it killed me, I wanted to juggle so badly, and I wish I could as an actor, I know, you know, [match striking] I could use it a hundred times, and in things that had nothing to do with juggling, but also I would love to be able to juggle on the stage. I would love to be able to, to play a harmonica on the stage. But I, I notice this with all of you, you all have this quality. Even the way you do it, even last night watching Richard Dysart as, as Talton or Robin in his tantrums you know or Janice in -- there's some behavior, it's not--it's more than just the oral actor. There is almost a dance at times, there's almost a choreography, this is the direction, too, but also the performance too, isn't it? There's an agility that I haven't quite seen before in a company. Well, there, there again we go back to the idea of being allowed to work, or being allowed to find it. Finding that character within yourself. Oh yes, taking chances, my gosh. When you have the freedom to, to experiment, both time-wise because you're not a five-week thing, and because you have that security, well, you know, there are a lot of things you can develop, like your fan or juggling even if you would have the Or oral theater. What? Or oral theater. There are so many things you do in rehearsal, that if you did them on the stage or the director thought you were going to do them on the stage, you'd probably be quietly carried away. But out of those things, you know, you can, you can arrive at marvelous things like Dick's little dance steps [unintelligible]. These are things that the actor almost doesn't think about I think, you know, you're not even aware of it until someone says it. Being in a repertory, just use the phrase, the word, the, the action of juggling, so to speak. In a repertory situation, Bill Ball would say, "All right now, we're going to do this play. Rene is going to do this role, and Rene, in this role, you know, the character juggles. So you'll juggle." And Rene would learn to juggle. Under a Broadway situation, same play, act--Rene would be called in to meet the director, the casting people, and the first question out of their mouth would be, "Do you juggle?" "Do you juggle?" And he'd say, "No," "Okay, well, we'll see you next time we're doing a play." That Yeah, that hasn't a juggler. Or they might go out and hire a juggler who can't act. Yeah, True, yes.. Bring on the seals. So again it's the use of the whole person. Yeah, and his, and his potential. And his potential, this phrase, and his potential. Only in a repertory company would this be possible. I never knew how to stand on my head until I did a show once at Arena Stage there. I had to, I had never been able to do it in my life, and then I realized I had to do it. So, I, I did it, and then, you know it's the-- Well it's, the marvelous thing about the theater is that I know that in the theater, and I suppose the analogy can go for anyone's lifelong involvement in any occupation he has, that I know I've learned more about life from being in the theater from the things that have been demanded from me from the theater, I've learned more life in the theater than I would anywhere else. I'm sure this is the same for anyone in any, in any avocation that they take. And the marvelous thing about repertory so far is that it has demanded things that I've not, I've not explored yet. This is an interesting-- You know you're not just using--there, there goes my microphone. [laughing] All right, kids. You're leaving in five minutes, I'll move over in your place. You were talking, Rene, since you're leaving short--Robin's point about learning more from life in the theater, this is a reversal. You know, generally you know that art reflects life, art mirrors life, you know, as it were, whether--but the fact is, here's a question of, of life itself. Mirroring--you've learned, because perhaps of a, a great writer like Pirandello or a Chekhov or a contemporary Beckett. Well, some people will say that, that actors and the theater world is a terribly insulated world, and in a sense, that's true. I think that actors now are trying to break that and become more aware of the world, because you do have a tendency to become so involved in yourself, because an actor is a selfish being, and what you're doing that -- but it, it's very true that you--but learning--did you say, Robin? [laughing] You got the microphone, baby. What did you say? You're Well, I've totally lost that point. I think it's time for me to leave. He has to go elsewhere and do another show. I've got to go stammer on the-- We finished two hours, we finished two hour span of concentration. Just, just to give, just to give Rene Auberjonois a chance to recoup, to, to, to recapture his dignity, his sense of dignity. Go Please. Go on. No -- What's that wonderful line you had last night about infidelity, about you respect your wife, you don't--I'm talking now to Richard Dysart. Right. In, you don't, she must--you, you respect her dignity or you would sacrifice your own. I respect her--I reserve her dignity, even though I'll sacrifice my own. And the marvelous thing about a wife, what about this marvelous thing about-- Well, I'm going to reserve my dignity by leaving. One last -- Oh, you're not going to let me go, are you? One last, one last comment by Rene. About directing. We forget also that you do many things in the theater, Rene Auberjonois directed Beyond the Fringe. This I have to ask you one question before you go. This Beyond the Fringe I haven't seen yet, presents a problem. It did here for the national company. Of course, here are four performers, Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett, who wrote, created the roles, they were the creators and doing it, and when five-four good actors came and did it, it wasn't quite right. They were carbon copies. So we were seeing, what it seemed--it wasn't their fault, [very No, it was put together by a stage manager. Now, this is quite a challenge, isn't it? To you, I know you and Robin-- Yeah, we all, I think we all decided when we started to work on it that it was such personal material that the only way to make it work was to make it just as personal to us as it was to the original four guys, even though they wrote it. It's why we do a certain amount of ad-libbing and, you know, trying to, to mold the material to ourselves. And I think it's the only way that we could have ever succeeded in making the audience enjoy it as a new experience. A lot of people have seen it before. That shouldn't scare people from seeing it again, because it does change so much, you know. I think we approached it as actors, also. Right, which they And not, and not, and, and maybe since you've made the comment, not as actors who are replacements. You know, I'm sure the other, the other four, given the opportunity of seeing this as a set script and then, then interpreting it and molding it would be just as successful. Almost. Amost. I've really got to go. I'm sorry. Rene Auberjonois, thank you very much. Thank To be seen several more times in Charley's Aunt? Right. Oh, yeah. And Beyond the Fringe, and Endgame, of course. And Under Milkwood. And Under Milkwood. Okay. See you in rehearsal. See you at rehearsal. Bye-bye! So long. Bye-bye. With the name Auberjonois, we have to say "Au revoir." [laughing] You mentioned Under Milkwood. Now, this is one of the bonus productions of, of the Actors Conservatory Theater extended two weeks. And of course, this has been heard on the station many times, the recordings and the beautiful fantastic wild poetry and compassion of Dylan Thomas. How do you appro--Under Milkwood, are you Captain Cat, Richard Dysart? Yes. Oh, you would have to be. I just thought. And Janice? Polly Garter. You're Polly, I guessed she was Polly Garter, she had to be Polly Garter. Love those babies! As well as several other roles? Oh yeah, everybody has five roles at And Robin, are you narrator, I'm just gussing? I was, and am, and play Waldo and, let's see, Mr. Pugh, and-- Dai Bread? Dai Bread --no, So we, so practically the whole cast is in, in -- in Under Milkwood, just about most of the company No, they are, there are a multitude of roles, and but they are shared by six-- Six characters, yeah, there's something-- And two narrators. Eight, eight characters and two narrators. So these four or five people will play four or five different roles. So some people, this is the way it was done on BBC-2, but some, some listeners I know and Chicagoans have seen, you were on, you did a TV production, didn't you? That's right, for NET. And they spoke of--educational. Was it NET? No, it was the-- yeah, it was educational television in New York, which was given. But they about as quite marvelous. Here again we come to what, we come to another kind of theater, it's almost a long poem, really, isn't it? And this finds its own style. Who directed this? Did, did-- It's an original, it's an original production, the original production concept is Bill Ball's. When we first did it in Pittsburgh, it was directed by, it was staged by-- Bill Young. Bill Young, and this current staging is being done by Byron Ringland. Who But it's still, who did-- But it's such a definitive production, physically, that it, you do have to, it is Bill's. Definitive, well, I mean, we think it's definitive, but, you know, it's so marked, the production is so individ--is, is such an original concept. Yeah, Coming back to, to Bill Ball, this is interesting, there are various credits given to various directors, there's a, obvious a sharing of credits here, yet in all of them his hallmark is there, isn't it? Not in all. No, not in all. There are some, there are some productions that he did that he wanted to gather together under one roof. Six Characters was an original production of his, Charley's Aunt was even an original production of his, although in this, in this case it has no, no relationship to, to Bill's original production. Milkwood is a, is a production of his. I would say in Six Characters and Milkwood, the original concept is still there, but adapted and changed. And, yet, even though Alan Fletcher directed Chekhov, Uncle Vanya, in fact we know that Ball is a marvelous Chekhovian director. He's known for his Ivanov you know, that flopped Right, but Vanya, but Vanya has no, it's only because Bill likes the play. The production has no, I don't think, any relationship to any production So there's an interesting, the venture itself is a fantastic one. There is a what, there's a mixture of all sorts of talents. We have this creative guy, this fantastic figure Ball, who may disagree with you, well, we'll talk about this in a moment, too, the excitement of conflict that happens here too, particularly with Robin, and Bill Ball, he brought it up when we were off the air. But there is this gathering of, of different approaches, isn't there, all, all the time? The openness of it. Yeah. Yeah. Open-end Open-end theater. Yes, open end in that respect that nothing is, nothing is "You do this now. Now do that." You know, it's, it, it finds its own life. The thing I've been interested in, we've, we've talked, there's been a great talk about freedom and about, about ferment and whatnot. I'm also very interested in the, at times very interested in the, in the idea of telling an actor, "Go on stage and do it." I think this, within our, within our context, it may be an interesting experiment to say, "Start, start at 10 o'clock and perform." I mean-- What do you mean? I don't understand. You mean in rehearsal? No, I'm hedging. Well, no, let's stick with this point. Earlier Robin was talking about his disagreement with Ball on certain approaches and this very conflict itself lends to a certain excitement. Well, it all, how do you, I don't know how you, how we can create, because you say, "Don't leave it in the gym." We talked about this in the, in the, in the five-minute break I, I have an emotional response when, when I keep on hearing, oh, what is it? "Push it beyond it's, push it beyond it's"-- Oh, reveal yourself! Reveal Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Well, at times my emotional response is, "Nonsense. Why should I? Why should I be vulnerable? Why shouldn't I, why shouldn't I protect myself and be defensive?" But I think in the same, same breath as you're saying this quite openly, you're rele--you were revealing yourself as being vulnerable. You know. Yes. Well, you always are vulnerable, just by, just by being on By having an emotional response to, to what somebody says you are. Although one objects to the, at times, the phraseology. And I do. I get, I get annoyed. You get sore and yet you are vulnerable because you're human being. If you were a stick, only I guess only a stick of wood, or only an actor, let's say, who was just--who is placed as such-- You wouldn't care what he said. I mean, we were talking, we were talking about--what brought this up was we were talking about certain statements. Well, if you weren't vulnerable and you didn't care, you know, the statement, statements could be made, oh, six, 17 times a day and you wouldn't know what the statements were. But I think the interesting thing about Bill is he's capable of holding people around him who can, when it, when it becomes personally necessary, to, to disagree. But you've got to do it in the open. And that's what he wants. An image came to my mind you're saying "invulnerable." I think a performer in a TV commercial is invulnerable. That is, what he says is wholly meaningless, it's wholly meaningless. He has words, a product, a cigarette, that we know is deleterious. And he says it with a smile and it's great, it's a man's cigarette. But even in, but even in, but even in commercials you get, you can get some marvelous performances in commercials. Yes, but they come out of what is required to sell a product. All right. But I mean, why shouldn't, why shouldn't we accept that discipline? If, if there are marvelous performances in commercials, and I've seen some delightful things, advertisements, it's, it points out the fact that even though you've got something definite to sell, and even though you can only be on that, on the, on the air for 60 seconds or a two-second spot, I don't know how long the spots are, if you can get a good performance in a commercial that still means no matter what the discipline is, if you've got a good performer and he clicks, his light Great, great. But I'm going to raise a point with you right now and I think perhaps Richard Dysart may have been thinking the same thing. There's something called audience, now this -- audience theater has audience and performers, doesn't it? That's a rapport here, there has to be something, amusement, you're-- Now, Live Talking

Studs Terkel But for the moment, live theater. Now, the audience. This man has a--performs, he's beautiful, he's a great clown, on a 60-second commercial. Now what is the effect--does it enrich, I hate to use, it sounds romantic, the fact is what the American Conservatory Theater does, it enriches that audience one way or another. Intangibly, you can't put the finger on it, but somehow there's an enrichment, 'cause you learn about life from theater. The audience learns see, whereas in a commercial you sold a

Robin Gammell It gives me my focus to learn--

Studs Terkel Yeah, but the point is this excellent clown or comic, male or female on this commercial--

Janice Young I would say it does. It, it could, it could easily happen, and it could happen in films and, and television for that matter, it's

Richard Dysart That a person could feel their life was enriched by watching a commercial?

Robin Gammell Yes, I think anything good.

Janice Young Well, if stretched to a point, yes. I mean, yes, anything good.

Robin Gammell Anything good anywhere, no matter where it

Richard Dysart Well, good. Now that's, that's, what is good? I mean--

All right, well, I'm saying--

Richard Dysart As far as a commercial is concerned, it's good if it sells a product.

Robin Gammell No, no, no, I'm not going to buy--oh, what is some of the--

Richard Dysart People don't know why they buy things. The people who make commercials know why you buy things. That's why they make the commercials in that way.

Robin Gammell Well, what about a book? What if I'm interested in the idea, or somebody talks about a book? That's a commercial.

Studs Terkel Oh, wait. We're talking about two separate things now. We're talking about two separate things. We're talking about a particular substance. We're not talking about form, I don't know what--about form and substance, but the fact is, you saw a fine performance and you felt good. You felt good because you saw that, even though what this guy was trying to sell you is a cigarette that will induce cancer, you see. Or even trying to sell you some phony--oh my toothpaste's good, I'm not denying this, but the fact is this is better than another, we know one is not better, they're pretty much the same.

Richard Dysart Soap

Studs Terkel So, but therefore I, is that person who watches enriched? You say by the very technique, by the very performer.

Robin Gammell Well, that's, that's my inter -- that's my interest as an actor. I'm, I'm really at the moment. I, I, I don't particularly like commercials. You know, and we get into the values of the products, but I'm interested in the technique, and the light -- and just the light that appears there on the screen. I think it has a very limited value.

Studs Terkel Well, we hold that for a minute, that's interesting, we come back to Janice,

Janice Young That's, he practically said, my attitude was not that, not even considering, rather, the product and the success of selling the product. But you were asking about enriching lives, and it is an extreme, but you know, I'll hold to it, that if that, if the person, it is possible that that person could, could enrich my life or please me by his self, but due to his, what something he, he communicates from himself may be beyond the commercial, and may be also good for

Robin Gammell Well, look, what about, and what I'm, what I'm talking about, I'm think of a specific commercial. Are we allowed to, we allowed to quote? What about the Volkswagen commercials? I mean, they are, they are delightful performances, and I think--

Richard Dysart By an automobile, but not by a person.

Janice Young I'm trying to think. Yeah, I don't know the

Robin Gammell What about, what about the poor guy who gets out of his Volkswagen truck and says, "The Volkswagen truck has, how many doors? Six, seven doors. One, two, three, four, five, six." And then he starts going back. Well, I mean, just the reflection on him. Here's a guy who's trying to sell a car and he, he's got confused on how many doors the thing has got. He comes out at the end, he's got one door left over.

Richard Dysart That's not him, that's, that's the man that wrote the commercial.

Janice Young Or, but hypo -- but hypothetically, if you took a person like, like the extreme -- Charlie Chaplin and said, "Do a commercial," which he may not do, or you can even say Jackie Gleason's Poor Soul or something like that. You would be very pleased by something beyond the fact that he was dealing with a grapefruit or

Studs Terkel Well, we did see Buster Keaton do commercials.

Janice Young Yes, yes.

Robin Gammell Yes.

Studs Terkel Now it's true, there was a joy in watching Buster Keaton's pantomime on his deadpan face and his pancake hat, that's true, and it's true also that some products do have a definite value, a unique value. Many don't. I know we're going to a deep territory, but I -- but however, I think that we're coming back to a question, I'm talking about audience, the question of audience and repertory theater and the plays you do, and that somehow the person is different, whether he's aware of it or not. One way or another, I don't mean he's going to be a different man the next day, but something in his life that was empty is not quite as empty. Do you, do you subscribe to this?

Richard Dysart Yes, I do. I do. I know when watching plays myself, even watching plays in the rep in rehearsal and in performance, I can see where this i - this idea of fulfillment, it may, something may happen, something may be said or some action may be taken onstage, where perhaps subconsciously you say, "Oh, yeah, yeah, that's what it's about." Some, something flashes through your mind. Maybe just a glimmer in the back of it, that sets sort of a, a cannonball rolling around in your brain that says, "Yeah, yeah, I used to think about that. I haven't in a long while, let's, let's open that up again."

Robin Gammell Which if you're alive, you can get that from anything, can't you?

Janice Young Still, I

Richard Dysart Well, we're bombarded with so many things that we, we have to be a little perceptive in our choices. I mean, how many hundreds of magazines do you see on the stand? How many hundreds of different television series and programs are there? And how many, how many different plays, new and, and old? So it's a matter of selectivity--

Robin Gammell Right!

Richard Dysart For the individual to--

Robin Gammell But doesn't that, but doesn't that mean then, you, you can select anywhere in the human experience?

Studs Terkel You can select, but isn't there something else involved here, and conditioning of a person? Conditioning to select what? How does one, if, if there are such things as values, if there are such things as standards, and this is a problem today, isn't it? How does a guy grow to select which will enrich his life truly? This is the big problem,

Janice Young Well it's a big problem, it's an overall thing I would think.

Robin Gammell Yeah, but it's been a problem all through human history,

Studs Terkel Yeah, but perhaps even more so now because of technology.

Richard Dysart It's becoming more complex. There are, there are so many people now who, who know how to influence other people's thought. It's become a science, it really has.

Studs Terkel Experts, expertise, technology, mass media, with all the greatness and the possibilities yet all sometimes used to diminish man. If I can return to the Conservative Theater, what a play-- Chekhov. Now, here Uncle Vanya, you, Richard Dysart as Uncle Vanya with his frustrations, the dreams, the hopes, this guy, his love for the indolent, beautiful, empty life, a young wife thus played by Janice Young here. Yet this play was written, what, turn of the century when a society was ending, and yet it's, everybody was saying, "Why, it's us, isn't it? Boredom we face."

Richard Dysart Yes. The day-to-day boredom. Usually not even half-realized by people. What is it, Emerson or Thoreau?

Studs Terkel "People lead lives of quiet desperation." Thoreau, yeah. What were you going to say, Janice?

Janice Young Just the ineffectual attempts constantly in an everyday life to change in, in some manner. Chekhov is brilliant in writing, and things people try and they don't succeed, or they succeed 20 percent, not, not, not dramatically as in some plays, I mean, it's very, very low-key.

Robin Gammell I don't--well, well, well--

Studs Terkel Go ahead. What were you going to say? Just say

Robin Gammell Well, I'm just talking about a low-key, low-key Chekhovian boredom. As I think of Chekhov as probably, or the Russians, have written best about ennui and boredom, and they write best about it because it is the most energetic representation of boredom. I think Chekhovian boredom is, is furious.

Janice Young You know something that struck me as interesting the other day, how many wri--we're getting way off here--

Studs Terkel Go

Janice Young I'm reading Stendahl's Red and the Black, which I just think is very exciting. How many writers are, are energized by writing about the boredom in the society around them, which Stendhal is writing and Chekhov wrote in this--how many writers have we had that have been, picked this up and are terribly excited by writing about a society's boredom or lack of direction? It's interesting.

Studs Terkel Isn't Beckett, didn't Beckett try this--

Janice Young Yes,

Robin Gammell Sure, but how could, you know, how could, what could be more energetic than, than Beckett's treatment of boredom?

Studs Terkel Well, let's talk about this. The energy that would seem, energy, the energetic quality of something that would seem to be the opposite. Boredom. Could talk about that that both Endgame and, and Uncle Vanya, now here's a play, say low-key, seemingly nothing happens, yet everything happens, all the lives are revealed, aren't they?

Richard Dysart Yes, through the action that it, that takes place. Though people--well, how do you say? It's taking, finding an action to reveal inactivity. Doing what isn't there to do in the life of an individual. That's, well, that's the challenge not only for the actor, but the challenge for the playwright. For any author to present, to reveal these facets of individuals which are below the surface. The surface life goes on, that may be inactivity, could be boredom. But what creates it? How does it come out within the individual? That's, that's the challenge.

Studs Terkel And of course the nuttiness in life. All of a sudden there's a clown qualtity. The laughter that happens at a tragic moment. You know, this is--and Garcia Lorca I think was saying that when he got the audience confused, not knowing when to laugh or cry, you've got a great play. And, so, both, of course, was happening, wasn't it?

Robin Gammell What about the, the, the marvelous moment? The mar -- two things. The first time I ever fell in love with Chekhov, I used to, I was in England for four years, and I saw people working there and studying, and I saw Chekhov done there, and I don't think English, the English, the English English can do Chekhov. I just think it's a national characteristic that--I just, I don't think they can. I haven't seen it done well. And the first time I saw Chekhov that meant anything to me was on a, on a CBC program in, in production of, in Canada of The Three Sisters, and what really livened Chekhov to me was a, a very small performance with an actor by the name of Jonathan White playing an officer. I don't know where it occurs in the play, I don't know if, I think it's about the middle of the play. There's a fire down the street and the house is burned down, and this officer roars into the, into the, into the, into the room and says, "My things! Everything was burnt! It went up in smokes! Everything went!" You know, "Extraordinary!" Well, something that could be done, you know, as a, as most, as a most grim tragedy was a celebration of a marvelous natural event. You know, "Oy, I have nothing

Richard Dysart left! "And

Robin Gammell "It's good, it really happened! I saw it! Everything went!" You know and, and, and this life suddenly was revealed to me in Chekhov. Now, I don't know if I--

Studs Terkel Go ahead.

Robin Gammell What led, what, the next thing, the next thing that my mind jumped was going back to something I said about the theater and anybody's avocation. The theater in my particular case gives me the focal point, the, the embarkation point on discovering about what life is about, and I know my interest in doing plays is being presented with, say, a Chekhov script, and my interest is, is why, why this particular person says this particular thing. Now, if you start an investigation like this, you start having to know what that person was, not only that, you have to know what his social condition is, what are the characteristics of the people involved? How, how did the Russian of the, of pre-revolution, what's his emotional makeup? Is it Slavic? What, what influences of the East or We -- it becomes very complicated and it becomes almost, if you start talking about it, a great cloud. But this investigation of finding out all the streams that condition a person to say one thing to another character is what makes theater, to me, exciting, but also it gives me my embarkation point of finding out what life is about. If the play is tr -- if the play is true and correct and does reflect life, as all plays should, this is a way of finding out a characteristic of a nation of a people at a particular time, not necessarily now.

Studs Terkel But why not necessarily now? It's a point that Chekhov, I suppose, taught us, didn't he, about, as much about life as Freud, didn't he?

Janice Young Oh, yeah, well, I think so, but I think in addition to that, Robin is right in the sense that in every play you, every good play you take and certainly Chekhov, you begin to, to go into more than that, you begin to go in the background of the play and of the people in the play, and why they couldn't go to Moscow, were they buried in a little town in Russia? Couldn't a troika get to Moscow and, you know, what could they do except drink vodka? And you get into all this kind of stuff in addition to the, the marvelous motivations in, in a playwright like Chekhov.

Studs Terkel Well, take yourself, you this girl. Here's this beautiful girl who married this older man, what, what were you looking for in life? It was nothing--Vanya obviously was in love with you, in every way, physically, romantically, he was in love with you. And yet he know you were lazy and indolent. Did you want it--he, he was looking for something to change your life in so many--and you couldn't find it, right?

Richard Dysart Well, yes, to an extent, yes. But also looking at her and seeing a number of qualities that may have been in himself that he didn't like.

Robin Gammell Sure.

Janice Young Yes, it's a reflection of

Richard Dysart And so, and so striking out at, at that person, at those qualities, saying, "Don't do that."

Studs Terkel And

Richard Dysart And at himself, yes, of course.

Studs Terkel As a person someone attacks someone who is always close to him. What were you going to say, I'm sorry?

Janice Young Well, it's, as you get into this it's so interesting, like, Helena is, I think, very complicated. It certainly is not, she's not the other woman or is out to get other men. Chekhov wouldn't stop there in any character, he just was being capable, but she's, I do agree with our director when he said she's basically a passive person who was unhappy at being passive but has led a life in marrying a professor, who's a tremendous, tremendously passive act because she had nothing then to do but to, to follow a man that she discovered she didn't--

Studs Terkel With nothing to do, and yet there came that moment, didn't there, when the doctor, handsome and literate and attractive to you, did make an offer to you, the doc--but at, but then your passivity again, the fear of being vulnerable, perhaps? Again we come to this again, of finding the weak spot?

Robin Gammell She didn't want to be vulnerable. She didn't want

Janice Young That's true, yes, that is quite true. It's certainly, Helena, at the end of the play, performs a dodge by leaving the entire situation, which maybe she would do, but she also recognizes is a way out of dealing with, with the doctor, and which people do.

Studs Terkel Can we return to this point? Again, Chekhov, this play Vanya, and the point Robin made, it dealt with a certain, obviously it did, the end of a certain society, only two literate men in the whole community, you and the doctor, and the--who are the other guys? Peasants. It was almost feudal, was it not, outside this little home?

Robin Gammell Yeah, but why did they, well why did they, why did they stay in an outpost? Why did they stay in this place outside? Surely they've got something of the peasant in them also. This is reflection, if anyone was interested in history, this is, plays are--

Studs Terkel Yeah, but let's come to now, let's come to 1966 USA, and why Chekhov is now, let's call it an American production, it was an American company did it, and I would guess since I felt that way in seeing it and quite overwhelmed by the production, and by everything, that it was telling about us now, I mean, just as Shakespeare for all time, maybe Chekhov, it was now, aren't we faced with this similar thing? Our society's in a nutty kind of state right now, and the peasants outside could be all kind, they could be Black people. You know, I'm just thinking out loud. At the same time here are living in a certain vacuum ourselves, and a certain boredom has taken us over, too, hasn't it?

Richard Dysart Look at the, look at the thousands, hundreds of thousands of families in the United States that have moved out of the cities, out of the metropolitan areas, into the suburbs. Stay there 10 years. Have children in school, and then--now it seems to be the pattern in many cities wanting to move back into the city, wanting to, to go back, the constant--

Robin Gammell I think that's, I think that's the most clear, the clearest analogy to, to being on a remote estate in, in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Studs Terkel Is suburbia. Removed from what? A vitality with conflict, perhaps.

Robin Gammell Even though they're only 10 miles from the city.

Studs Terkel But absolutely removed, and we come back to this, the group of people in the Chekhov play.

Janice Young There's another, getting to the motivational side of it, which is also modern, is, it certainly is not Chekhov. I don't want to talk about Richard's character Uncle Vanya at length, but it is interesting, that why, the question why, which was presented to me by people that saw the play, "Why did, why did Uncle Vanya devote his life to Professor? I don't understand that." But then you start thinking of people in modern days, and you, you know families, I know a family in New York that scrimped the whole entire family to send the daughter, everything was for the daughter, and they, they, they lived through this daughter in schooling, who was a rather mediocre--she was a musician--rather mediocre violinist.

Robin Gammell Yeah!

Janice Young But why did they do that? Well, it's within everyone's motivation, and weaknesses, and, and maybe, what I -- delusions to behave,

Richard Dysart Some people will not take actions. Some people will keep tossing the ball around, so to speak, they won't take definite decisions, will not take definite actions to accomplish something in life, and will say, "Well, it's going to be done for me. Maybe the state will do it."

Studs Terkel "Maybe the state will do it." We come to the--here again with the--and then come to, perhaps you just mention Richard Dysart's Uncle Vanya. Let's come to that marvelous, what I call clown scene, tragic clown scene when he tries to kill the professor, yet it wasn't, he, why, this professor represent all, you picked on him for everything, and obviously the frustration about Helena and the rejection was part of it, but the emptiness of your whole life, and this guy almost represented, didn't he, and you blamed him for many things of which he was, he was wholly, of which he was wholly unaware and innocent. Could you talk about

Richard Dysart Yes, well the action, the actions taken is to, out of anger, out of frustration, out of the--of having been rejected by the professor's wife, possibly wanting rejection to begin with.

Robin Gammell Sure.

Janice Young Yeah.

Richard Dysart And then all this thrown together in, into the pot of drama at the end of the third act of a four-act play, running after the professor with a pistol, firing, missing him, in a way trying to shoot not only him but to shoot myself by shooting at him, and missing. "Oh, my God, I can't even do that. I can't even take that

Robin Gammell "Bang bang! Damn it, I missed!" [laughing]

Studs Terkel You succeeded in failing again.

Richard Dysart "What am I doing? I failed. Oh, thank God I failed." [laughing]

Robin Gammell He's, he's, he's neglected to kill the professor, but he's also neglected to shoot himself. Great.

Studs Terkel But he succeeded at failure once again.

Robin Gammell Succeeded at failure! Or failed at success once again.

Studs Terkel We come again to this marvelous moment in Check--always appears just as Robin was taken with the performance of this Canadian actor Jonathan White, we're in the middle of tragedy, losing all his possessions, but what an event, you know. Event! So here, too, what an event! He had a gun in his hand, it's absurd. Uncle Vanya with a gun, it's kind of silly, the gentle Uncle Vanya with a gun. And of course goofing it up, you know. But what an event, it's always this crazy paradox, isn't it, of the comic and the tragedy.

Richard Dysart And then saying in the fourth act to the, Vanya saying to the doctor in the fourth act, "There's something very strange here. I tried to kill a man and nobody sent for the police." I mean, "Please, somebody send for the police, somebody get me off the hook here. I can't do it myself."

Studs Terkel So in the middle of a life, we come to this, in the middle of a life that has this overwhelming stifling boredom, is an excitement.

Robin Gammell Oh, yeah, yeah.

Studs Terkel So now we come back to William Ball and the American Conservatory Theater, and I think there's a direct relation--

Here within all this boredom is life--

Studs Terkel No, no, within all this, the word you don't like, "ferment," and--

Robin Gammell Oh no, no, no, no, I love the word "ferment."

Studs Terkel But the conflict, in the conflict, in your--obviously, it is conflict in your, it has to be, I mean crea--what I call creative conflict.

Richard Dysart We build a good wine. Which ferments properly. And each, each vintage is a little different, each play is a little different in that respect. But it was born out of not, out of not having a pattern set down and prescribed.

Janice Young And also, and also dissension, which Bill does encourage, which is wonderful.

Studs Terkel He encourages

Janice Young Dissension, I think, is a bad word, but--

Studs Terkel Disagreements.

Janice Young Disagreements and to assert your own ideas and not go away grumbling, but to say, "Right," he loves for you to come right up and as, as all of us at times have done, and say what we think as an opposition.

Robin Gammell It's not the fact that he encourages it by, by, by vocal encouragement, it's simply by his character that he, that he encourages it. Now, he keeps, he keeps the people around him and yet they are people who can consistently volatile. No, he doesn't dampen it. He never dampens it. He may get angry and, and, and run away from it and, and, and then snub you and not look at you in the hall or do something dangerous like that, but it's still, it's still, it's still got life. Some marvelous life. Great love.

Studs Terkel This was the opening of the program yesterday, that when Robin, you may recall, had disagreed, he was bothered by some of the words, he says, in which he, Ball was saying, yes, he wants the actors disagree or agree, or go and holler, and he described something that, perhaps we can touch upon this. Theater, to have the excitement of an athletic event. You're rooting for someone or against, he was speaking of Electra. You're rooting for the girl to seek that vengeance, or it's probably rooting for Hamlet to, to, to take some action, you know. But there's always this element of, of, of an event, of an event happening at the

Robin Gammell A happening. In that respect.

Richard Dysart Yeah. Yeah well, that's what, that's what gives it it's, it's life. It comes out of just being, of, of going with things, you know, which has a value unto itself. A group of musicians sitting around late at night just, just finding the life of the music of, through themselves.

Studs Terkel Talking about a jam session now, say, a jam session. Yeah,

Richard Dysart Yeah, yeah.

Robin Gammell This can also, also in within the, exactly the same context, you have, you could have the same group, I mean a Benny Goodman, who suddenly becomes interested in, in chamber music, and within the same context you have two opposing disciplines. I love the words when, when, when scientists, mathematicians, intellectuals start talk, talk about, "What is your discipline?" I mean, it's a, it's a, it's a well, I'm a, you know, mathematical philosopher or whatnot. But it's, it has a great feeling, this word of discipline. Within the, within this context, the same night you have a jam session if you've got talented enough people, you can also have, you can also lose yourself in, in, in chamber music.

Studs Terkel That has a great discipline. Yeah.

Robin Gammell It's all di--you have disciplines of artists and every form has its own discipline, and every form has its own freedoms.

Studs Terkel That's it, since you mentioned chamber

Robin Gammell You can celebrate.

Studs Terkel I'm sure it's connected with acting. Everything relates back to your theater. It really does. There's a group here called The Fine Arts Quartet, they're a marvelous chamber music group. And several times we've talked about it. Isn't it, I says here's a work of Schubert, "The Trout". Now it's all [down?]. Is it always the same? No, because they're finding nuances. Now, I'm going to ask about you now and, and the plays in which you appear. Let's say, let's stick with Chekhov for the moment, you've done it any number of times now. It's not identical, is it? I mean, though there is a frame, Chekhov has written certain words. Something happens, some one way or another, does it not, differently?

Richard Dysart Yes, it's bound to. It's bound to, I say, as long as people don't try to fit it into a precise mold. As if to say, "Well, let me see now. Last time we did this play, what was I thinking about when I said this particular sentence?" As a creative person, you're dead if you take that

Janice Young Yes, and also in keeping, sustaining a play, there's always a problem keeping it fresh, and sometimes it changes due to the fact that we're human and it must be alive every night. And you must find reasons to, to do each scene, and a whole play can change on that basis and within eight months.

Robin Gammell And there's para -- and there's a, there's a paradox in the--to do a play, every night, it has to be the same. It has to be the same. But if it ever is the same, literally the same, you're dead.

Janice Young I, it's a problem, too. If you do an eight-month run in a play, I think it's a tremendous problem.

Robin Gammell But you, mean you can't go fly, you can't go flying around and changing the, you can't change, can't change basic speeds, basic tempi, it has--you know, from that, from that rehearsal period where the play is in ferment, certain patterns establish themselves, certain general patterns establish themselves, and you've got to be able to keep it tight when you do it, do it in performance. But if it ever remains the same--

Studs Terkel Yeah.

It's finished.

Studs Terkel Here, then, is the beauty of repertoire, isn't it? You were going to say,

Richard Dysart Well, I was thinking of last Sunday's football game. The Bears. Now, a fine quarterback.

Studs Terkel Bukich.

Richard Dysart All right. Knows that's he's called a play. Anf he knows what is under proper circumstances that play is a, is a touchdown play. Every play is a touchdown play.

Robin Gammell Right.

Richard Dysart He knows it's, how it's going to, he knows how it's going to start. He knows how he hopes it will end up, but he knows that after the action starts and that hole isn't opened up, he's got to think pretty fast on his feet and take an action to still come about--

Right.

Richard Dysart And find what has to be done.

Robin Gammell And the action, the action is also conditioned by his experiences, that from past experience he knows that if he moves thanks to [unintelligible], if he moves in a certain way something else is going to happen. It's always an interaction of experience and, and a, and a fresh situation.

Studs Terkel So if we do stick with the analogy of football for a moment, so there's an ensemble here, his team is an ensemble, they pretty much know what he's going to do, and yet because of the opposition, depending on what they may do, now in this instance perhaps audience may have an effect, let's say, not that audience

Robin Gammell Sure they're opposition.

Janice Young Oh, continually.

Studs Terkel Opposition, you say.

Robin Gammell Yes, they're opposition.

Studs Terkel Go ahead. Talk about that.

Janice Young Friendly opposition.

Robin Gammell They're

Robin Gammell They're friendly opposition.

Robin Gammell They're not, well they're,

Janice Young they're No

Richard Dysart Well, they're counterpart, that's not necessarily opposition.

Janice Young No.

Robin Gammell But they can be.

Richard Dysart Well, they can be.

Robin Gammell They can condition your response.

Richard Dysart Oh, they do. It's that, always in the back of the mind somewhere even though it may not be openly working in the mind, is the fact that I'm doing this, but these people in a way are leading me. It's almost a, a sensory thing of give-and-take between an audience and a cast. You, you ride along with them.

Studs Terkel Like

Robin Gammell It's a live animal.

Richard Dysart Yes.

Robin Gammell It's alive and we're a, we're a living organism, we've got two live -- two sexes

Studs Terkel There are two live animals at work or two sexes. Two live animals in a work.

Janice Young Who or which is Richard?

Robin Gammell Ah well,

Studs Terkel that's Act as the male, because act is acting.

Janice Young I'm on the wrong side.

Robin Gammell The actors are the male, and the audience is the female, and everybody knows that the female is much the strongest.

Janice Young And much the most devious!

Robin Gammell And if they don't treat us right, we'll smack them. [laughing] Or they'll smack us.

Studs Terkel So really there are about three, three dimensions at work here as to why a classic, let alone a contemporary play, but a classic is never quite the same. One, an audience reaction. One, how you yourself may feel that day, physically or psychologically.

Robin Gammell Somebody said a classic is a, is a, is a play that has been an audience-pleaser a long time, and since audiences changes, change, audience in the sense that actors and people who go to plays are audience, I mean, they see this, this thing, and it attracts them. Since actors and audiences change with each generation within, you know, a five year span, a play that lasts through 10 generations, nine, 16 generations, two centuries, that means that the play has got something.

Studs Terkel It's an audience pleaser in that it hit some chord in that audience whether it be 20th century or Shakespeare's century.

Robin Gammell A classic, a good classic is a commercial success.

Studs Terkel So if we--as a commercial--so Shakespeare did write for everybody there. He was an actor. He was an actor.

Robin Gammell And he was making it his, you know the, Willie Shakespeare was a, was a real estate man, and he happened to make his money by, by, by, by writing plays and also acting, but he also got himself into a very interesting position of starting out as we think as a stable boy in this Globe Theatre and turning out to be one of the owners at the end of his theatrical career he was one of the principal shareholders, and then he became the big land owner of Stratford-on-Avon. He was, it was commercial.

Studs Terkel It was commercial. Commercial in a very true sense, commercial in that it appealed to everybody one way or another. We come back to the company, that theater, then, is not, if we can perhaps touch on this. You've mentioned an athletic event, a football game or, which is terribly exciting, or a baseball game which is becoming less and less exciting, but the matter of, of broad appeal, something animalistic is appealed to as well as the head. It's both. It's not esoteric. I think the thing we have to buck is that we think of theater, particularly in a city like Chicago, that has a, a broad theater audience, but there's a much, much wider one way outside that I think would like the American Conservatory Theater if they saw it on one condition. I feel this very strongly. Again, come back to Bill Ball's idea of it was like an event and it's exciting or like the character who blew all his things in this big fire, you know, in Checkhov.

Robin Gammell Yes. I think the interesting, you keep talking about baseball. The interesting thing to me about baseball is that it is now becoming, here is a, here is a sport that has become in a true sense audience participation. But the strange way they cha --the strange way audience is, is the, the, well it has changed, the people have changed it. Now, now it's a sport of, of averages, of mathematics. The main interests to me, see, I am not really a baseball fan, because I, it's--I'm not a baseball fan but, so from that prejudiced point of view, it seems to me that baseball has now turned into something where people are only interested in the facts that come out of it.

Studs Terkel And not

Robin Gammell It almost seems to be a computer sport.

Richard Dysart With the exception of Willie Mays.

Janice Young Now, there's a guy, that's action. A baseball

Studs Terkel Now we come to the question, what is an artist? Earlier you were saying about craftsmen and artists, very early you see. I think a great actor is an artist, and a craftsman, both. I think, I think you, you people, if I may say so, are artists-dash-craftsmen. I think the company is this and this is what makes it so exciting. Willie Mays is over and beyond the reality of a guy who makes a hit and does it --there's always the other element of life.

Robin Gammell Well, think you have to s --well I, I disagree with what you're saying about us being artists/craftsmen. I don't like that order of things. I like it to be craftsmen/artists.

Studs Terkel Okay. Okay.

Janice Young Okay, Robin. [laughing] It's all right.

Richard Dysart Now that we've got that point settled down.

Studs Terkel You want to, you want, you want go ahead?

Robin Gammell No I think, I don't know, now that I've put it, I think the artistry is the, is the icing on the cake. It's a, it's a dividend you get.

Studs Terkel But it's the icing on the cake, I think, that is what makes your company so exciting, it's the icing on the cake that's over and beyond that gives the audience this refreshment; not, well, not refreshment, but refreshes.

Robin Gammell But as technicians I think the, I think the focus should be that, that we, that we keep pretty firm, we keep pretty firm our, our, our roots, and our roots are as craftsmen. I think once we start getting into airy, fairy nonsense about, you know, art for, you know, then we're, we cut loose.

Studs Terkel Do I follow Robin right in saying that, I know you're thinking about some of the performers have misused Stanislavski technique and at the expense of craft and slovenly talk, they're thinking about the inner feeling and the thoughts, the result of which comes lousy performances. You're talking now about the importance of technique, how terribly important it is.

Robin Gammell Well I mean, Stanislavski, that's, that's, what is, to me, what his, his books are about.

Studs Terkel About technique.

Robin Gammell They're about technique.

Janice Young All his books. They always stop at the first book of Stanislavski.

Robin Gammell All his -- I mean he's talking about, he's talking about, here he is in the situation of the theater, Stanislavsky happened at the same time as, as Pirandello, and he was, he was in the--I was wrong before when, I think in the last program I talked about Pirandello happening at the same time as Chekhov, that's not, that's not really true. I'm talking, really meant that Pirandello was happening at the same time as, as Stanislavski.

Studs Terkel Don't worry about the clock, I was merely looking at it, but let's, let's not stop artists.

Robin Gammell I want to see who, I want to see who the enemy was behind my back. Pirandello was happening at the same time as Stanislavski, and Stanislavski was doing the same thing in his books as Pirandello does in the, in the Six Characters, he was talking about bringing new life into a pretty settled--rhythm of things.

Studs Terkel And something was happening in the world at that time, too.

Robin Gammell Right, right. Same thing was happening--who was writing, who was writing at the same time? Shaw came somewhat after, but--

Studs Terkel Ibsen a little

Robin Gammell before. Ibsen, Ibsen was at the same, I think, of the same genre of, of, of naturalism. And this was a new, this was a new style. It still has to be done with style, it still has to be done with discipline. But it's a new focus, it's

Studs Terkel Since we talk about style, last night, the night before this particular program, well, last night and the night before, Misalliance, Shaw. Now, here was a wholly different style, wasn't it? That was that, you don't worry, I mean, there's no, there's no sticking--your theater has no one single set style.

Robin Gammell No because we're not doing -- yeah, of course, because we're not doing all the same plays. The play has to determine it.

Richard Dysart A Pirandello and a Shaw, I, my own opinion is that Shaw is a very interesting writer to, to read. I think he reads better than he, than he acts, he even says that in his plays.

Robin Gammell He was talking about Shakespeare I think, too. Hoist on his own petard.

Studs Terkel He was saying, he was kidding himself there in a way, or--

Robin Gammell Maybe. Maybe he was.

Richard Dysart You know, we're at a, at a juncture in theater. Something Robin just said brought this to my mind. Not only is this company and the American Conservatory Theater, not only is it open in it's, in it's workings, in its way of coming up with a product, but it is a repertory company that has been built and is finding its life at the same time that there's a big change going on in the theater, in the American theater as a whole. And so it puts us, I think we're constantly aware, everyone in the company, that whatever happens, whatever we do in some way is going along with this, would you call it a new movement? Would you call it--

Robin Gammell A rebirth, a renaissance of an old movement?

Richard Dysart Yes, or perhaps finding its own, it's own new life.

Robin Gammell Yes.

Richard Dysart That we're aware of it. We're aware that we are a, you know, a part of it, and that also makes it exciting.

Robin Gammell Yes, and that we have a--what is going to happen is that more theaters, I think more repertory theaters. It's happening all over the country. Each city is beginning to compete for its own, for it's repertory theater. I think it's a wonderful, it's the best way to learn and practice your craft, and it's going to have an effect on theater, theater standards all over the continent.

Richard Dysart And it's going to happen--

Robin Gammell It happened in Canada, and it's happening here. And the strange thing is the effect it's going to have, here we go back to the commercial theater. It's going to have a great effect on commercial theater.

Studs Terkel Hope, and now we come to this key point, that something is happening west of the Hudson and east of Hollywood and Vine.

Janice Young Absolutely.

Studs Terkel And the fact that you speak of tributary, I hate to use, not tributary, but in regional theaters. Whether it's Guthrie in Minneapolis, whether it's San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas arena--

Robin Gammell To me, to me it's interesting that, that television, I think, has brought this all on.

Studs Terkel You think so.

Robin Gammell Yes, I do. Because I think television has made the United States--I'll use the whole continent, 'cause the same effect is in Canada. It's br--audiences can now participate in central events, important events all over the continent at the time they're happening. They can also participate, participate in events that are happening all over the world. And now that they've got this, this awareness of what is happening outside themselves, now they become interested in now what happens in their own communities. So that in past, where one way of finding out what was happening in the important centers was to go to a Broadway show. A Broadway show was, it came from New York and this is where--this is--

Studs Terkel Like Bonwit Teller. Like Bonwit Tellers.

Robin Gammell Yeah, this is where things are happening. New York is where things are happening, but now is the fact that you can go to sit down in front of your television set and see what's happening elsewhere, now you become interested in your own, your own contribution to the life of

Studs Terkel The implication of what Robin says and what we've been saying for the past two programs are really limitless, you know. The fact there's a marvelous scientist/physicist in England named J. Bronowski, and he's saying that he sees the future as being one of communities. Some see megalopolises, he's--but more and more they will find because we have nuclear fuel, because they--we--all the facilities will be there that could not have been there before, because of technology, more and more richness in individual communities, and act in a way represents this, and perhaps why Bill

Robin Gammell Marshall McLuhan talks about this.

Studs Terkel Marshall McLuhan came to my mind as you were talking about everybody's participating, being more--although he's open to a great deal of, obviously, controversy.

Robin Gammell Yeah.

Studs Terkel But the matter of--in technology right now we're participating so much without realizing it, as well at the same time there's the effect, the dangers, too, the being bombarded on all sides. The question of stand and so--in the middle of this, if we may say this is the American Conservatory Theater, and Bill Ball saying "No" to the proposition of directing Fiddler on the Roof or Royal Hunt of the Sun, which could have easily have done. He was obviously a sought-after director, directing two obvious hits, certainly Fiddler, no, he had something else in mind.

Robin Gammell Well, he figured that he wanted--he figured that he had more of a chance of changing, and this is what we're all interested in. This is what everybody is interested in in any occupation. He figured he had more chance of changing the, the rhythm, the focus of theater or people's lives, or the condi-- conditions. He had more an opportunity of change working within this repertory context than he had on Broadway.

Studs Terkel And before we have one last go-round and I hope this will be the, only--

Robin Gammell You're not going to ask us to sum up in three words what--

Studs Terkel No, no sum up, no sum up, just random thoughts, and perhaps they're not random at all, this is, I think we'll have more sessions, I hope we will and naturally I'm thinking, also hopefully, wishfully thinking that this is I talking, this need not be the performers, hoping that the American Conservatory Theater. And then when I say I'm talking, I'm sure that thousands of Chicagoans, scores of thousands agree with me that the American Conservatory Theater will be a permanent institution in our city, institution not in the museum sense, but in a very lively--

Robin Gammell Living

Studs Terkel Very living sense and at the moment the audience is aware there is a possibility--

Robin Gammell I've just put my cigar in my Cigar

Studs Terkel Cigar in his tea. Now, something could be done with that, I'm sure. [laughing] "Now, why did Robin Gammell", I'll be the psychiatrist, "Why did he drop the ashes in his tea as I was talking about Chicago?" [laughing] Obviously a conflict involved here, so we, so, so we have Chicago and San Francisco as a possibility, and the possibility is that perhaps the opening might be, if the San Francisco people and Chicago people agree, and the ACT people agree, a very important the artists to have to decide, eventually it's their

Robin Gammell We, we want to go where there's life.

Studs Terkel Where there's life, well, I think there is, you will find a great deal of life here.

Robin Gammell We have, we have,

Studs Terkel And I, And I hope that we have, well, several sessions. I have a hunch we will. Several more sessions.

Richard Dysart Fine. Love

Janice Young Yes,

Studs Terkel And just to remind the audience, our three guests this morning are Richard A. Dysart, Janice Young and Robin Gammell, and earlier Rene Aub--Auberjonois, and there'll be other performers, too, perhaps more roundtables, but at the moment, let's see it, two more weeks to go at the Murray Theatre?

Janice Young Little over. A little over. Two

Studs Terkel Two and a half weeks to go, with still Chekhov to be seen, still a couple of Pirandellos, Charley's Aunt, Shaw, Endgame, and Under Milkwood, which I know a great many of us are looking forward to see, oh, as well as the others. The statistics, the vital statistics as to time, place, available in the press continuously now, and perhaps one last, this is not summing up, this is not summing up, just go around. Janice, your thoughts about yourself being a member. Anything. The roles you've been playing, working with different performers, and the shifting, the changing of gears continuously.

Janice Young Well, the thing that struck me most in, I guess, our discussion, is this thing about life, because wherever it is, and I'm always interested, you know, if it's in films or, I don't care. If something is fresh and people are thinking there they're going to contribute, to me as an audience, and I hope that I would do that to, to any other audience. And I think that's true of this group, which is the one, that is the most important thing that interests me, and that I love ACT for, I think there is a heartbeat and, and a thought and in things, something that is live, and not rote about the company. And wherever that is, I think that's very exciting.

Studs Terkel Richard A.

Richard Dysart Well, I fully agree. I think she, I think she said it. As far as, as our company is concerned, we do have a sense of life, we sense that we have, and it's kept free, it's kept open by William Ball and by every member of the company, and if it doesn't become too involved with real estate, and can maintain this particular quality, then I think we have a chance of really accomplishing something in the American theater, of helping to change it, whatever that change is going to be, either in Chicago and San Francisco or wherever we may land. That's the important thing to me.

Studs Terkel Our obstreperous and challenging Robin Gammell. [laughing]

Robin Gammell I look at it, I'm, I like the life. I think I like the life that we've led. For all its unsettling aspects. I--to be more specific, I like the institution of repertory for one, for one reason, and that is, I don't lose the work that I've done. It never disappears. It's always there and it'll always, it'll change. I mean, we may, we may drop plays, but [match striking] I like the idea. I love rehearsals, and I like the idea of holding on to something and changing it with time. And repertory offers me this, and the, and the cities where, where they accept repertory. That's where my life, that's where my life will be.

Studs Terkel Perhaps that last comment of Robin Gammell, not losing what he has done, even if it's never done again. I think this could apply to us in Chicago as at the end of the six weeks season here, summer season, improvisational, sudden as it has been, I think we'll never lose the effect. I think this happened in Pittsburgh, rather interesting enough. I feel as several critics have said this, Pittsburgh will never be the same since William Ball and ACT were there, and I don't think Chicago will, I think people now have seen a certain kind of yen, a certain kind of yearning, certain kind of hunger satisfied to some extent and want more of it, and I trust that--

Robin Gammell Part of the, part of the general pattern of ferment.

Janice Young This word, "ferment."

Robin Gammell That's a great--you can get drunk on

Janice Young I don't know if I can have lunch after all--

Studs Terkel So with Janice Young and Richard A. Dysart and Robin Gammell and prior, Rene Auberjonois, speaking I'm sure thoughts of other members of the company, it's each individual is different, I say on behalf of myself and I'm sure a great many Chicagoans, we hope that they will be part of our city and enrich our lives, that they certainly will do and, thank you very much indeed.

Janice Young Thank you.

Robin Gammell Great being here. Very stimulating. [pause

William Bradford Huie A huge Negro soldier and when they get ready to blow "Taps" over Alvin York, there are two buglers stand out, they used two now, one on one mountain, one on the other, you know, both of them young Negro buglers and one man turns around to me and he says, "I've seen signs and wonders in my time, but I never expected to hear a nigger blow 'Taps' over Alvin York." You see, so, this is what I, what I mean, Studs, and this is so important. This has nothing to do with whether you approve of us in being in Vietnam. Negro pride, you talk about pride of themselves. It has helped Negro pride once and for all, the lie's been given. You go to Vietnam yourself and any man that's been there and every redneck from a soldier from Alabama coming back to a Ku Klux family is saying, "Pop, it ain't so. I got a Negro Sergeant and I feel safer with him than I do anybody else." Negroes can fight. They can stand in jungles. The idea that they've got rabbit blood and they're going to run the first time a flag goes off, this just ain't true.

Studs Terkel I think, William Bradford, you're offering one very fascinating aspect, I'll drop the other shoe, since I had it left, the other shoe is I think, to me, the horror of it is, the dehumanization of both. This is the point. Yes, both are similar. Both are heroic in battle, the white and the Black, but that battle will dehumanize both.

William Bradford Huie Well, granting that this--

Studs Terkel This is the point. This is the ans--however, this does not take away from the, from the specific truth you're talking about, or what happens, what happens to the mind of the poor white whose myth is being somewhat shattered.

William Bradford Huie We're talking about--just as well as white men. This is removed, this has killed a myth, and, and, and [Duff?] or this, you know, is good. This is a good result. You may not like the way that it was done, but the result is good, is good for Negroes and good for whites.

Studs Terkel And William Bradford Huie in The Klansman is really talking about the terror of a myth, and this is the seventeenth work--this is a novel. Other, many of his other works are other nov--are journalistic feats. Delacourt Press, The Klansman.

William Bradford Huie [pause in recording] levision, and the young people and all their lives, they never seen a Negro American, except on television, they were 10-year-old children there, and suddenly the new army brings them, because they come to the 82nd Division, York's old division, comes back there to bury him, and my, here's a--

Studs Terkel That must have been a very fascinating event, that event that you describe in the book and you're talking about now, called "Black Monday" in the South?

William Bradford Huie Yes, it's referring to the Supreme Court decision in 1954 was handed down on a Monday in May. And this is known to everybody, says since "Black Monday." Black Monday, you know the world

Studs Terkel Society. Is there another theme that attracts you now, too?

William Bradford Huie Yes, I have to change. I have to turn to something else. After I have written so much since Black Monday, since the Supreme Court decision in 1954, I've written so many magazine [pause in recording].

Studs Terkel Perhaps one last question, Mr. Huie, before you leave now. Is there another, I suppose continuously you have these new themes.

William Bradford Huie Simple white minds, and one of the things that has removed Negro hate from young white minds in Alabama is television and what has come back from Vietnam about what a good soldier, the [pause in recording] and we bring the young Negro dead back from Alabama. We, sometime we have trouble burying them in previous white cemeteries when they come back from Vietnam, but they are buried with full military honors, they're buried with full military honors, and believe--and there is community pride in the fact that this Negro soldier, and this includes whites as well, now remember that this is a, this is an old chauvinistic area in the South. You might [pause in recording] new army that's fighting a great division, a great belligerent division with a great record that's fought in all our great battles on down. And here's the, here's the regimental streamers with all the names of all the battles that go back and that were regimental streamer with Sergeant York's regiment is being borne by [pause in recording]. You may hate war and you may not value war heroism on the battlefield, but remember that, that we are a chauvinistic people in the South. We are a fighting people and we take great pride, our ancestors who died at Shiloh--

Studs Terkel Well, we're still a violent society, North and South, I'd

William Bradford Huie Well, we're, of course, we're a violent people. We are, our ancestors who died at Shiloh or at Iwo Jima, their pictures still hang on the wall and we take--are proud of, of their, their military records. Negroes can fight--