Performance (Working In The Theatre #295)


(APPLAUSE) Once again, a warm welcome to the American Theatre Wing’s “Working in the Theatre” seminars, now in their 28th year,
coming to you from the new Graduate Center of the City University of New York. As the American Theatre Wing brings together
artists from throughout the theatre community to these seminars, we provide an understanding
into the exciting life and work in the professional theatre. Today’s seminar is with six leading performers. We learn not only about their careers and
training, but also about the drive, passion and knowledge needed to achieve a career in
the theatre. I’m Isabelle Stevenson, Chairman of the
Board of the American Theatre Wing. And now, let me introduce our moderator for
this seminar, President of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization and a very active
member of the Board of Directors of the American Theatre Wing, Theodore Chapin. Ted? (APPLAUSE) Thank you, Isabelle. We are here today with a rather distinguished
group of performers, and I’d like to introduce them to you now. Starting at the end, Lily Tomlin, currently
appearing — (APPLAUSE) Well, I think so! Currently appearing in THE SEARCH FOR INTELLIGENT
LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. Next to her, Maximilian Schell, (APPLAUSE)
appearing in THE JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG. Heather Headley, who won a Tony for the title
role of AIDA. (APPLAUSE) Alan Cumming, in Noel Coward’s
DESIGN FOR LIVING at the moment. (APPLAUSE) Faith Prince, who is Ella Peterson
in the new production of BELLS ARE RINGING. (APPLAUSE) And Daniel Davis, who is in THE
INVENTION OF LOVE, Tom Stoppard. (APPLAUSE) Talent! Now, I thought I’d start, because, wearing
my Rodgers and Hammerstein hat, I’ve spent the majority of this week in auditions, and
my admiration for what all of you does knows no bounds! So I just wanted to ask, how do you get through
auditions? Are there techniques you have to master to
get through that process? Go, Danny. I think it’s the worst experience (LAUGHTER)
in life. Sort of public execution. (LAUGHTER) I think that what I try to do always
is, I try to go in with a very strong idea of the character and the material. And I usually try to have in my mind a fairly
strong objective to play. I say all of this so that I have something
to do when I get in the room, and then at the same time, I try to keep myself completely
open and available to a director who may, you know, like where I’m coming from but
wants me to go another way, and I have to keep myself facile and able to do that. But I think that it’s different auditioning
for the theatre than it is to audition for film and television, at least it is for me. And I think there’s an adjustment that you
have to make that. You know that you’re either going to fill
the stage or you’re going to fill the screen, and there’s a difference in your energy
and your approach to doing an audition, based on the media. But I think it’s an unnatural thing to have
to do, to go in and convince somebody that after thirty-five or forty years of acting,
that you know what you’re doing. It’s just completely unnatural. Plus, you’re going to meet someone who potentially
you might be working with for a long, long time. Yeah. And you might have a very, very close relationship
with them. (LAUGHTER) And well, you know, who knows? But I hate them, and I like to have, like,
a cup of tea. (LAUGHTER) At least have a cup of tea and
a sort of a chat. And then come back and read. If you can persuade them not to have to do
the material at all – Oh, that’s always good! It’s just the best! (LAUGHTER, ESPECIALLY FROM THE PANEL) I mean, my agent, I said, “I just don’t
want to do those things, you know?” And she went, “That’s okay. You’re very good in a room!” (LAUGHTER, ESPECIALLY FROM THE PANEL) Do you find that there are directors who will
not engage you in a conversation over a cup of tea? They just want something from you? Oh, well, sometimes you walk in and you just
think, “Ugh, yuck!” You know, life’s too short. (LAUGHTER) And yeah, they don’t really see
you as a person, they’re kind of looking for this – you know, I think it’s really
interesting that people, all of us here probably, are here because we have very strong senses
of our selves, as well as actors. And sometimes people don’t recognize that,
and they only want to see you in this role. And that’s kind of annoying. ‘Cause you’re like, “Hi!” You know, “I’m a person, too.” Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a part
from auditioning. I think that’s why I had to start creating
parts for myself! (LAUGHTER, ESPECIALLY FROM FAITH) I’ve gone
to auditions and I’ve had agents say to me, “I will never send you on an audition
again as long as I live, because you’ve totally compromised my professional reputation.” (LAUGHTER) And I have no idea what I did that
was so outstandingly different. But you probably had what Daniel was talking
about, a take on what that part was, and maybe it wasn’t everybody else’s [idea]. That might be a good conclusion. (LAUGHTER) I literally had an assistant to
the agent say to me, “Honey, what happened?” And I said, “What?” And they said, “They said you acted kind
of mental.” (LAUGHTER) So … Well, I have to say, I mean, having picked
up comments that were made when the actors left the room this week, it’s been very
interesting. This is a kindly group that I’ve been with
this week, but occasionally … I mean, there was one person who came with a resume that
didn’t look anything like what the person [looked like when he] walked in the room. Oh, I love that! Yeah. (LAUGHTER) This is a musical, and this was a chorus person
who looked like a chorus boy. And he came in and was, you know, quite interesting. And I just thought, “Well, who would make
that decision?” Now, did you have to audition for the entire
Disney gang for AIDA? Yes. Twice, ‘cause I did LION KING the first
time, and then the second time. It was tough, I think. The first time I auditioned for the casting
directors, and then the second time, it was for the producers to, you know, tell them
that it was worth taking me out of LION KING to put me in AIDA. And then the last audition was at an Off-Broadway
theatre. They rented the entire theatre – Oh, my God! Yeah! For me and two other girls. And you know, it was like set pieces and pianos. And I walk in, and in the darkness, I just
see men. Like, the whole Disney contingency. Oh, yeah! And Eisner sitting in the middle with a red
sweatshirt (LAUGHTER) and like a baseball cap. That’s subtle! And like, “I can’t see you at all!” (LAUGHTER) Did he have the ears? Yeah! (LAUGHTER) You know, it was like, “What
am I doing?” It was just so awful. It was like, “Just let me get this over
with and get out of here.” ‘Cause I am the worst auditioner ever. I, like, stop my audition and say, “You
know, I’ll be much better in the show. (LAUGHTER) I can assure you of that.” So yeah, it was a long – not long, it wasn’t
as long as people think. But it was a tough process. I always think that when you go for a part,
that it’s always like, if you go for films mainly, but you don’t want to do them really,
you just kind of go in because you feel you ought to, your agent said, “You know, they
really want to see you!” or “It’s really an important person!” And you’re kind of like, you couldn’t
care less about it, those are the ones you always get offered, like before you [leave
the room]. Yes, always! (GENERAL AGREEMENT) And then the ones that you really, really,
really, really want, which are much rarer, you know, they [say], “Oh, no, Johnny Depp’s
doing it,” or something. (LAUGHTER) I have a technique that I use, and sometimes
I use songs from other shows (LAUGHS) and then I do it a different way. Like, for Adelaide, when I did [an audition]
for Adelaide in GUYS AND DOLLS, I decided to do “Something Wonderful” from KING
AND I as Adelaide. (LAUGHTER) So they spend the entire audition
going, “What is that from? I know that song!” (LAUGHTER) You know? And then, it just kind of eases everything
on me, and you know, then it just kind of throws them just a little bit off. But I don’t think I had ever really known
how difficult auditioning was till I sat on the other side of the table, when I was looking
at other people auditioning. That was the most painful thing I have ever
been through. (LAUGHS) And I thought, “What made me think
I could even get in this business and get a job?” Because I just have this sort of thing where
I just stay in my lane, you know? And I think, “Oh, I’m going to get to
the finish line.” And I think it was a really good coping skill
for me, early on, because I thought, “I am the girl you need for this part! I am The One!” And I would go in with that sort of strong
center. Mmm-hmm. “And I’m going to perform this! I’m going to do it this way!” And I think because I concentrated on that,
(LAUGHS) I had no idea how completely wrong I was for half of those things! (LAUGHTER) I just thought, “I’m gonna
get it!”, you know? Well, that’s good. And it’s just relentless. I was just relentless. I think that’s a good technique. (LAUGHTER) That’s a very good one. So Max, I see you’re writing. Are you auditioning us? No, I’m writing. (LAUGHTER) Well, I feel terrible, because
I never did an audition. (MURMURS FROM THE AUDIENCE) Never. I hate it so much! And if somebody said I should do it, I said,
“Then you just forget me, I can’t.” I always remember Montgomery Clift, who is
for me not only a friend, but also maybe the greatest film actor America ever made. And we did three films together. When he read, for example, in JUDGMENT OF
NUREMBERG, he read (DOES A MONOTONE), “My moth-er, don’t you see that is my mother,”
on the first reading. And you could see that while he was reading,
he was destroying every part he had played before, and he started from chaos, from nowhere. And I think that’s the right way to do. I think audition – and I taught at USC,
and I was so disappointed, because most of the pupils wanted to know, “How shall I
do an audition?” I can not teach you that. Don’t do it, if you can! (LAUGHTER) Because in my very first Broadway play, we
had three actors in it. I don’t want to say the names now! But the one who was the leading actress, she
gave a fantastic performance in the first rehearsal. I was stuttering, and the other one was half-stuttering. And at the end, it was reversed, because she
lost more and more. She was brilliant in the first reading, and
then it disappeared. I think that auditions are against every principle
of acting. I think it’s wrong, it’s horrible. I admire every young actor who has to do it,
who does it. When I’m directing a film, I can not do
auditions. I talk to people, and I know them. I think I can feel it. But to audition them, no! But how does one get the job, if you never
audition? Talk to them. No, at the very beginning. A cup of tea. For example, John Osborne, who is a playwright,
you know? We did A PATRIOT FOR ME (PH) and then he said,
“Would you audition for me?” I said, “No, I wouldn’t.” But we’d talk about it. And we got the play, we talked about it, but
I could not read lines which haven’t gone through the process of learning, you know,
of digesting. You can not just read. Otherwise, it becomes a routine. I think it’s absolutely wrong and horrible. And as a director, I look at somebody. I can feel it. And most of the actors can do it. And then, I would rather don’t do it. Is there any other way of doing it? Well, you have to. I mean, I don’t want to say that’s the
only way to do it. But somehow, people always say, “Well, Max,
you can do it today.” I remember, when I was very, very young, I
had to [do it]. We don’t call that “audition.” We call it “forsh breshen” (PH) in German. That means you learn the role you like, and
then you perform it. And there is a scene in PRINCE OF HOMBURG
by Kleist – of course, you don’t know it – would be called here, “A New Play,
by Heinrich von Kleist”! (LAUGHTER) It’s two hundred years old! And he had a sort of dream account, a dream,
and at the end he says, you know, he takes a glove from a girl, in sleepwalking, and
then he says, “A glove! By God, I have in my hand!” That’s the ending. That’s about a hundred fifty seconds. And I read that, you know, Josef Kinds (PH),
who was like Edwin Booth or like Barrymore, you know, for Austria, I heard he did that
in about half the time – it needs about a hundred fifty seconds, and he did it in
half the time. So I said, “Well, if he could, then I can
do it, too!” (LAUGHS) So I learned it, and I rehearsed,
and I worked like mad. And finally I did it, and then the head of
the theatre is there, and he said, “Yes, that’s the way Kinds would have played. Only, he knew how to do it!” (LAUGHTER) That was the end of – it was
not an audition, but it was that sort [of thing], you know. But I don’t know what to say. I think if you talk to somebody. If you talk and they say, “Look, I can’t,
I can’t!” Of course, I can read the lines. And the problem was, when I came from Europe,
they said, “Would you read with this girl for the part?” I said, “Of course, I’ll read for the
girl.” Or even, Joseph Papp said, you know, we wanted
to do HAMLET together, he said, “Would you read with us?” I said, “Yes, I’ll read.” So I read. But he meant the play. He meant play. I can not play something which has not gone
through the process of thinking, of working, of reworking. And you see, the interesting thing is, you
lose. On the first rehearsal, you do it, usually,
pretty well. And then I think, you all agree, you lose
it. You backslide. Yes. Unfortunately, too, in America, it’s like,
when you’re starting out as a young – well, in my case, I was starting out as a young
musical theatre actor, that’s what you have to do, is auditions. But before you did, you sang a different song,
which you know. Yeah! (LAUGHTER) Did you get the part? Yeah. Then, see! (LAUGHTER) Then there you are! And she won a Tony! No, I just came up with plots. But you know, it’s true what you’re saying. I just would love (LAUGHS) to come up with
a different plan. But when you got here, I mean, I opened my
Back Stage, you know, and looked down the auditions. And I would just go in and go, “You should
pick me!” You know? I just jumped right in. But the way the process works these days,
in terms of getting employment, particularly in movies and television, if Olivier was alive,
they would make him come in and audition. It’s like, they don’t know who you are,
because they’re twenty-two years old (LAUGHTER) and they’re running a studio! And they have no idea your history or what
you bring –- It’s true. And plus, that side of the industry, more
and more, is being sort of run by people who are primarily businessmen and make business
decisions. So they are looking at artists who make artistic
decisions, and they’re trying to evaluate an artistic decision from a businessman point
of view, and the two roles just collide. So you have to go in and convince them, in
person, that you are what they’re looking for. Because nine times out of ten, if they want
a plumber, they will go and hire a plumber. Not an actor who can play a plumber, but an
actual plumber! I mean, Christopher Plummer! (LAUGHTER) Christopher Plummer. “It sounded like plumber, it’s the same
name!” It’s true. Yeah! But I mean, that’s kind of how [it is]. Don’t you find that? I mean – I also think, part of what everybody’s saying
here, which I think is important, is make a bold decision as an actor when you’re
going into an audition. Yeah, yeah. You know, take charge. But be open. But I mean, you do have to have an idea. I mean, honestly, BELLS ARE RINGING, I brought
that to the front table. I’ve been trying to get that produced for
ten years. I wanted to do it for twenty-five, but trying
to get it actively produced for ten years. I brought it to the front. I did tributes to Comden and Green. I did the concert version at Kennedy Center,
“Words and Music,” okay? A six month period, they looked for everybody
else (LAUGHS), and then came back to me, and said, “Would you audition for us?” And I said, “No problem!” Mmm, geez! Fantastic! You know, it just – But it’s like Zimmerman. You know, Fred Zimmerman, the famous director? There came one of those twenty-two year old
Coca-Cola producers, you know, (LAUGHTER) from Hollywood. And he came and said, “Mr. Zimmerman, could
you tell me some of your records?” And he said, “Yours first, please.” (LAUGHTER) That’s a good one! I think it’s a great answer! I like that. Lily, you’ve probably dealt with the twenty-two
year old business men from time to time in your career. Yeah! I want to know, do you audition for yourself? (LAUGHTER) I should! Those are the parts she gets! (LAUGHTER) Try something better. No, but actually, that is something very interesting,
which I really don’t understand with actors, although I am an actor. (LAUGHTER) If you find a musician, like Pinchas
Zukerman, Isaac Stern, you know? They come after the concert. First of all, they bring their fiddle with
them. Secondly, after half an hour, they start playing. They love to make music! If you ask an actor to read a play with you
or to recite something, usually they’re very shy about it. And I think that’s wrong. It’s not an audition, but to work with fellow
actors on something which is worthwhile, I think is fantastic! And I really introduced that, even in Hollywood. We have always evenings where we get a few
actors together, we read a play, we talk about it, we re-read it. And it’s wonderful, because it’s finding
the profession. That’s a great – if you want to call it
– audition. But to read blank from the script, which you
got just ten minutes before, one day before, it’s impossible. I was also interested – and I don’t want
to dwell on this too much more – but are there specific techniques? I mean, to get through that awful process? Or do you just have to trust your own instincts
and do the best you can? I just think in any meeting when you meet
someone, and you know, potentially, they are going to give “a job,” you know, I think
they would be so lucky to have me! (LAUGHTER) I know it! It’s the right attitude! Yes! Sure, you just have to think like that. Because you know, so often, actors are like,
“Oh, my God, you know, we’re thrown little pieces of meat, like little dogs!” (LAUGHTER) And you just have to empower yourself
and say, you know, that they will be lucky! Did you have to audition for CABARET here,
even though you’d done it at the Donmar Warehouse? No, I did not. Oh, good! But somebody, one of your colleagues, said
once to me, “When I go into an audition, I look at them and say, ‘Ten years or twenty
years from now, you will be all dead, and I will be still alive!’” (LAUGHTER) And that gave him the courage to
do it! I think it’s tough, though, walking into
a room, ‘cause we have so much [at stake]. You know, we want to be accepted in the role. You know, you want to get it. (LAUGHS) It’s part of ego and work and everything
like that. And there’s a lot of rejection in our business. A lot of times, more than not, we get, you
know, told “No.” And I always tell people, you know, like young
people always come to me and they’re like, you know, “How did you do it? You know, everybody tells me, ‘No.’” And I always tell them, the tough thing that
I had to learn, I think, at my age, which is – you know, God knows I’m so honored
to just be sitting with everybody up here! I mean, I’m like sitting here going, “I
should be in the audience, going ‘Okay!’” (LAUGHTER) But with that said (LAUGHS), what I had to
learn is that just because they say, “No” to me does not mean that I am bad. And so that’s when I walk into the room
and have to think, “Just because ‘No’ was said to me this day does not mean that
Heather is an awful performer and she’s terrible.” Unless somebody says that, you know, that
“You’re the worst thing we’ve ever seen.” (LAUGHTER) Which sometimes happens! (LAUGHTER) But I had to remember that – They are wrong. – this just wasn’t my day! I have to move on! You just didn’t need Heather and all her
fierceness for this part! (LAUGHTER) You know? I was too much for you! (LAUGHTER) So I had to move on, you know? Because I just remember somebody had told
me that every “No” leads to a “Yes,” and so, if I was not said “No” to on certain
auditions, I would not have been available to get AIDA, which led me to the most incredible
time of my life. So that’s what I have to walk in the room
remembering, that this may be my day, this may not be my day, but it’s not because
I’m bad. It’s just because this was, you know – God
knows, I can’t go to SHOW BOAT and sing, you know, any of the songs in there. Maybe I could, I could pull it off, but I
would not be maybe great that day. It would take a lot more, you know? So that’s what I had to remember, and I
think that’s empowering in itself, that no matter what happens today, when I leave
this room, I’m still Heather and I’m still good at what I do. I still need to learn a lot, but you know,
I did the best I could this day and this was not my journey. My journey’s coming up. So that’s how I get through the rejection
of it. How did you get the first audition? For AIDA? Or just in general? In general. Oh! (LAUGHS) I was in school, and I was at Northwestern
University, hiding under tables, ‘cause I did not want to leave school at all! (LAUGHTER) ‘Cause I believe in higher education! (MEANING THE AUDIENCE) For you! However! I was working at a regional theatre – it
was my first professional job, I did two regional shows while I was still in school and taking
my whole course load. And it’s funny, because they called me and
said – I got a job that day, at the Shubert Theatre, doing the Christmas show, which is
like twenty performances a week, and they were going to pay me like, you know, sixteen
hundred dollars a week, which I was like, “God have mercy! I could buy the world! You know, I could pay for school! I can’t believe this!” You know? I mean, it was fifteen hundred ninety-nine
more than I was making at work-study. (LAUGHTER) Right! So I decided, okay, you know, I would take
that. And that same day, I was supposed to have
an audition for this musical that they were doing in Toronto, called RAGTIME. So I called my agents and I said, “I’m
not going to go do the RAGTIME audition. I got this one (WASHES HER HANDS BRISKLY),
I’m going to call it quits.” And she said, “No, go in, it’s Livent,
you won’t get it, they’ll say you’re too young, they’ll call you back next year.” So I walked in with that attitude, like “Oof! You know, I’m not going to get this.” I sang the song, and while I was singing the
song, they were all like talking to each other, and I remember being like, “Ugh! What?” You know? (LAUGHTER) So I kept singing, just like “Ugh! Gosh.” So I got my papers at the end of it, and I
kind of walked out, because my whole attitude was, “I’m not going to get it.” And I got it. They were like, “We’re discussing the
fact that you’re in school. Do you think you can leave school and come
do RAGTIME for us?” And I was like, “No, you don’t understand,
I’m not supposed to get this.” (LAUGHTER) I was telling them that! I was like, “That’s not the part!” During the audition? I’m doing the Christmas show! I got a job, I got school! (LAUGHTER) And that started everything. It took a week for me to make the decision. I cried every day. I called every professor, ‘cause I did not
want to leave school. In retrospect, it was the best decision that
I made at that time. I believe, you know, I still want my degree. But you know, six months later, Disney came
knocking, and a year later – Will you ever go back to school? I do [want to]. My mother wants her degree, ‘cause she says
she paid for it. (LAUGHTER) That’s what she says! (LAUGHS) She’s like, “I want my degree!” So I do want [to go back]. The Tony won’t do it? The Tony is not happening! (LAUGHTER) She got six months on that, we
had to do a little custody! (LAUGHTER) She gets it six months, I get it
on weekends, it’s okay! But I do want it, because it’s just one
of those things that I tried so hard to get into Northwestern and to stay at Northwestern,
and so it was tough for me to leave Northwestern, so I want to [go back]. Where did you grow up, before you went to
Northwestern? Oh, I grew up in the Caribbean, in Trinidad. Yeah, knew nothing about Broadway, didn’t
know it existed. As a matter of fact, we moved to Fort Wayne,
Indiana, after Trinidad. Larger stop! It’s a stop to Broadway! (LAUGHTER) Yeah, it’s a stop. And so, we went to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and
even then I thought that there was one theatre where all the shows came in. And so every week or so, I don’t know how
they did it, but they just all came in and did this show in this “Broadway Theatre.” So that’s what I thought! And so, my first introduction to musical theatre
I remember was in the Caribbean. And living in the Caribbean, we have a lot
of imports of Indian music – well, Indian films. And as you know, they do a lot of – it’s
a musical almost, they dance and sing. So I just thought, that’s how all American
films were. So when I saw my first movie, which was SOUND
OF MUSIC, I just thought, “That’s what they do!” (LAUGHTER) And so that’s what I did, I sang. And then, when we got to the States, they
introduced me to musicals, and that was it. I just fell in love after that, yeah. That’s great. Did you have any of the fancy training that
they have over on your side of the pond? Yes. (LAUGHTER) I went to the Royal Scots Academy
of Music and Drama, for three years. Did you have a good time? I did. Yeah, quite good. I mean, I’m really glad of it. You know, at the time, kind of a similar start
of thing, I started to work, you know, professionally before my course was over. And they were a little bit snotty with me
about that. (LAUGHTER) So I had a bit of a bad aftertaste
in my mouth at the end of it. But no, it was good. It was a great thing to do, you know. And I think what I really appreciate is having
the range of experiences, not just about acting, but you know, directing and stage management. You did a whole range of things in the course
over three years. And really, I’m so glad of that, because
I think people here are so kind of insular about just acting and can’t see their role
within the whole bigger picture. You know, missing out on something, as well
as being kind of rude, you know? Yeah, it’s interesting. Somebody’s flashing something at me. Daniel, I think some of us, at least the television
crowd, thought you were English for years. And sort of surprised to hear that you’re
not! No, I was born in Arkansas. (LAUGHTER) So you trained in this country, yes? I trained in this country, yeah. I actually went to a conservatory that was
started by the Rockefeller Foundation in Arkansas, for native kids of Arkansas. The first class was offered scholarships to
have four years of training in this conservatory. But my training was all [performing], we were
a performing school. We were on the boards with a play every night,
for a paying audience, and that’s how this school subsidized itself somewhat, through
the Rockefeller Foundation and (LAUGHS) ticket sales! And so, all of our classes were geared toward
the performance. So classwork was all about rehearsing and
being ready to go on that night. And we did a sort of small rep of plays, six
plays a season. So from the very beginning of my training,
it was all geared toward performance. But I really felt that I learned a lot, but
I didn’t learn as much as I did when I actually came into the professional world, in the first
company that I was a part of, when Michael Kahn organized the American Shakespeare Festival
in Stratford, in the late sixties. And the first company of actors that I was
in was Eva Le Gallienne, Morris Carnovsky, Kate Reed, Len Cariou, Roberta Maxwell – I
mean, quite a long list, Brian Bedford. And we were doing the classics. And that, keeping my mouth closed and my eyes
open and watching these people work was where I first really knew what it meant to be a
professional actor and where my training really began. But because I wanted to do the classical theatre
– that’s what I was prepared for and trained to be part of – so you could not say (DOES
A SOUTHERN ACCENT), “Soft, what light from yonder window breaks?” (LAUGHTER) Which is how I spoke when I was
growing up. So we had very good teachers. I mean, my early teachers were Kristin Linklater
and you know, Liz Smith, and amazing people, and Edith Skinner. The gossip columnist? (LAUGHTER) No, no, no, the other! The voice person. Is she coming? (LAUGHTER) Be careful! And you know, I got to prepare six classical
roles with Edith Skinner as my voice coach, so after a while you don’t (DOES THE SOUTHERN
ACCENT AGAIN) sound like you’re from Arkansas any more, you know? But also, I mean, that extraordinary, distinguished
company. You must have learned from the company you
keep. I told Lily earlier that I have read this,
I think, an extraordinary book on the movie NASHVILLE. And one of the things that’s amazing in
this book is the realization of the people who were together making that film were from
all over, just a variety of people. And did you all play off each other, and learn
things? Well, you know, Robert Altman is very freewheeling
as a film director, and you’re always encouraged to [improvise]. If you departed from the script, you were
not chastised, let me say that. And in that particular film, we were asked
only, whatever was said about us by any other character we had to accept as the truth of
our life, you know? And every night we went to dailies, and so
if somebody said something that would impact on our character or our experience, we just
had to incorporate it into our own performance. (LAUGHTER) I mean, if it surfaced, you know. That must have been risky. Well, Robert always makes it very safe-feeling,
you know? You never feel that you’re going to be punished
by some oversight of his that ends up on the screen. So you trust him? He’s a director you trust? Yeah, yeah. How did you get to that? He just fosters it. He’s just that kind of guy. And I noticed when I went to NASHVILLE, the
part I got was the last part I wanted. I thought, “I could play any of the other
women in this piece!” And I said, “I don’t know why I’m being
asked to play Linnea (PH),” who was this very middle-class woman married to Ned Beatty,
who was a good ol’ boy lawyer. And I had two hearing-impaired children. But anyway, when I got there, I saw how right
everybody was, ‘cause Bob is really great at casting. And he just latches on to anything that’s
serendipitous. Like Julie Christie came through town, Elliot
Gould came through town! (LAUGHS) He just puts ‘em in the movie! (LAUGHTER) Even if they just were walking
through a party scene, and he gives ‘em a line or two, and he gets ‘em, you know. That was great. Also, as somebody who had worked for the National
Theatre of the Deaf, I was very impressed with your sign language in that movie. Oh, yes, I studied every day for three months. I never could really, you know, speak, but
I signed [my lines] fluently. I really learned what I had to sign, basically. Did you feel, at the end of the film, you
were right for that role? Oh, yeah. I felt very good in the role, yeah. But I meant, you know, going in, you thought
– Yeah. No, ‘cause I identify with so many different
kinds of people, I guess I thought I could have played anything else. I probably played that better than I would
have played any of the other parts, ‘cause Bob probably knew that. Just like you were saying, as a director,
you know the essence or you feel something. Were you surprised when you got an Oscar nomination? Yes, very surprised, ‘cause I had very little
screen time. I mean, you know, really, twenty-five actors
in a film, you don’t have a lot of screen time. But I had a couple of very good scenes. Where did you study? Well, you know, in the beginning, I couldn’t
study very well. I didn’t understand, just as I didn’t
understand how to audition. And when I would study, if I’d go to class
with various, you know, people, I’d sign up and go to class. And whenever I’d get up and perform, I’d
see everyone [PH] and when I’d finish, I’d try to incorporate what I’d been learning
in class, you know? And I’d finish doing a scene or something,
and the kids would be looking at me like I was just really wacky. (LAUGHTER) Like what was I doing, what was
I thinking? And the teacher would be sort of dumbfounded,
too. (LAUGHTER) And so, then I stopped. I clearly could not develop technique at that
point, you know? I just had to go intuitively. And so then, if I’d do it, they’d be obviously
so unimpressed in the right way that I’d come back the next time and just sort of do
it by the skin of my teeth, you know? And then that would seem to be more acceptable
and more understandable. And then gradually, of course, in doing it,
in literally doing acting – as you say, there’s nothing, that’s what you have
to do. Like Max says, actors working on a scene,
the more you do the better you are. The more you do, you know, it’s just like
becoming skillful at your craft. But there’s also something interesting. I directed in the National Theatre in London,
TALES FROM THE VIENNA WOODS. And I personally love it when a director plays
for me a part, because when he explains it, I don’t understand a word. I always said, “You should listen to a director,
and then forgive him.” (LAUGHTER) But in Switzerland, in Germany,
you know, it was wonderful when a great actor or a great director plays for you the part. Of course, they’re always cheating, because
they say, “Now, you know, you get up. Silent, of course, you don’t say a word,
and then you go over – ” (GETS UP TO DEMONSTRATE) Careful! (GRABS HIS MIKE CORD AS HE CROSSES PAST THE
TABLE) “Yep, you be careful, because – ” (LAUGHTER) Because you’re wired! Because you’re wired! It’s talking and talking, and it looks great! But you know, the actor has to do it without
words then, and without being helped, right? (LAUGHTER) I think that’s a European thing with directors. An interesting thing – do you mind? I just want to say it, because it was interesting. No, you say it and then I say it. (LAUGHTER) The director! The difference, I find like, just you reminded
me, I did a play by Dario Fo once, and he came and I was playing the part in the play
that he had played. You know, he wrote it for himself. And there’s a German writer called Manfred
Karg (PH), I did a play of his and he came. And the pair of them were, you know, very
big presences, but they had no compunction about, like, sort of showing you what they
wanted you to do, physically showing you. And that’s something that’s much, in America
and Britain as well actually, actors are much more like, “Oh, my God! He gave me a line reading!” You know? (LAUGHTER) “I can’t believe that!” The interesting thing was, I did that, too,
in London, you know. Yeah. And I played it for them, because I thought
it was easier to show them. And then Peter Hall came and said, “Max,
uh, sorry to tell you – ” (LAUGHS) “Max, darling.” Yes, “darling.” (LAUGHTER) “You know, the British actors
don’t like it so much when you play the part for them. And if you do it, don’t do it so well.” (LAUGHTER) And he was right, because English
actors and American actors, they like to work! But in Germany – But you know who would do that? Jerome Robbins was that way. Yes? He couldn’t articulate so much in words
what he wanted you to do. But I would say to him, “Jerry, could you
do it for me?” And he would get up, and I’d go, “I know
exactly what you mean!” Yeah, yeah! And he was brilliant. He was the most brilliant at it. And that’s how our dialogue was, ‘cause
I used to just sit and watch him. And then if he’d say, “Well, it needs
to be – ” and I went, “Just could you do it for me?” And he’d get up and do it, and I went, “I
got it! I know exactly what you [mean].” Well, there’s a nice anecdote of Goethe. Go-ee-thee, as they say in Chicago. (LAUGHTER) Yeah, I said, “Do you know where
the Goethe Strauss is?” “Oh, no. You mean the Go-ee-thee Street?” “Yes, right. Okay.” So it’s Go-ee-thee, and his best friend
was a man who sold antiques, you know? His name was Meyer (PH), and since he was
Swiss, they called him Kuncht (PH), which means Art (PH) Meyer. And they were in Carlsbad (PH), in Carlo Vivare
(PH) together. And the legend goes that they were walking
there every day. And every half hour, Go-ee-thee said, “Mmm-hmm,”
and then Meyer said, “That’s it.” That was the whole conversation. (LAUGHTER) And I think that’s the best conversation
you can have. If I ever find a director, when I say “Mmm-hmm,”
and he says, “That’s it!”, I would be the happiest in the world! (LAUGHTER) I wanted to ask Heather, I know that AIDA
went through two incarnations, so you had one director and then it changed into a completely
different show, except you – I mean, I assume it didn’t change into a completely different
show, but what was that experience like? That was tough. It was very tough. After we did the Atlanta “incarnation,”
as we call it, save Sheri Renee Scott and myself, five ensemble members who had to re-audition
for the show – I guess my audition was onstage, when the new director came in, and Natasha
Katz, who did the lights and got a Tony for it – they fired everybody else. Everyone else? How many is that? Everybody! Screeds of people? Everybody. The set designers, the directors, everybody. Choreographer. Choreographer, everybody. And it was tough. You know, these people hired me, and now I’m
watching them go. And so, that was a tough, tough thing. And (LAUGHS) you didn’t want to walk the
streets, to see anybody, you know? It was really tough. And there was a lot of hurt and breaking,
you know, with me? I was very close to the show, but I knew that
whoever they were going to bring in was going to help the show get further on. So it was tough going from one director to
the other. I had to keep the core of Aida, but not insult
the new director by saying, “Well, this is what I did before!” (GENERAL AGREEMENT FROM THE PANEL) You know
what I mean? I had to remember her core, but not bring
that to the table, and be open to whatever he was going to bring to my table as well. So you know, it was a lot to get used to this
other person, but everybody got gone. (LAUGHTER) I was concerned for, you know,
a few minutes. It’s the same when you do a film. I did once a film for 20th Century Fox. And I knew that Alan Ladd – “Laddie”
(PH) called, he was the son of Alan Ladd – that he always says after each first showing of
the film, “That’s too long,” always. So I put in two scenes which I had cut out
anyway before. (LAUGHTER) And put them in, and then he said,
“Max, I must tell you, it’s good, but it’s too long.” I said, “What about this scene and that
scene?” “Yeah, that’s a good idea!” (LAUGHTER) So I cut out the scenes I already
cut out, and it was wonderful. He’s figured you out, though! Right. You can’t pull that one any more! No. He knows it now! (LAUGHS) But he’s not the head of [20th Century Fox]. He’s not running the studio now! Yeah, I know! (LAUGHTER) But now they know. A new one there! A new one! But I did hear, from someone who had done
a sort of magical painting thing for a movie, that Robin Williams had said, “Now listen,
there are twelve guys here who are the producers. Now, eight of them have absolutely nothing
to do. But when they all come and say, ‘You know,
this should be green,’ tell them it’s the greatest idea you’ve ever heard.” Yes! “And just ignore it. But tell them it’s great, ‘cause they’ll
come back next week and say, ‘Oh, you know what? You painted that green, just like I told you
to.’” I think you did that, when you did AIDA again,
you know? You just said, “Oh, yeah, that’s a great
idea!” That’s a great idea! Which you did before! (LAUGHTER) He listened. Lily, when you and Jane Wagner, your director,
approached this piece again, did you find that you were both looking at it newly, or
was it like back in the old ruts and this is comfortable? Well, a lot of it, too, you know, a lot of
it still lives in your body. So it’s not so easily, you know, radically
altered. I mean, I think things were cleaned up or
sharpened or maybe, you know, lessened. Working in that form is so different than,
you know, moving a lot of people together in a play. Because if something’s going to be changed,
I mean, I’m the only one who has to be changed. You know, you don’t have to – Negotiate with a lot of people. Yeah. And it’s pretty fluid. I mean, the show is really more choreographed,
almost. You know, to keep it seamless, there’s a
certain amount of dance in it, dance-like movement. Are the audiences different, this time around
than last time? In some ways, I think they’re more responsive
emotionally. I think they have, you know, grown up to the
play in a sense. You know, it doesn’t seem so political or
this or that to them, you know, or specifically sociological. I think they see it the way it was intended,
anyway, just as a larger tapestry of humanity and all of us being in it together, and what’s
moving about that and what’s special about us as a species. That’s great! How long ago is it since you did it last time? I did it in ‘85-’86 here. At the Plymouth, at the theatre that Faith
is at. So you moved next door! Have you done it in England? No. But I’m probably going to go to England
this coming season. I mean, I’ve been talking to people about
doing it. ‘Cause I didn’t go last time, ‘cause
I had a little dog (MURMURS FROM THE AUDIENCE) and I didn’t want to leave her, you know? It’s a problem. Yeah. Did you find, Alan, in CABARET, that the audiences
were different every night? I mean, that was a pretty demanding [show]. When it first opened and nobody knew what
it was, it must have been a little demanding for the audience. Yes, I think it was. Especially, the Roundabout Theatre have a
subscription audience, which tends to be slightly older than the average audience member. (SHRIEKS OF LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) They must have taken to it big time! Oh, yeah! (LAUGHTER) So the first couple of months, you know, the
majority of the people were the subscription people. And then it kind of went more sort of average. Younger! Skewed younger! Younger, yeah. And you know, a more general cross-section
of humanity. (LAUGHTER) So that was quite – when the
play’s just opening and you’re kind of – it felt like it was so much more shocking
that I thought it was, because the people’s reactions to it were more extreme than, you
know? So that was quite hard, I think. I remember the first time I saw it, I was
sitting right behind Vanessa Redgrave, the mother Redgrave, and watching [her daughter
Natasha Richardson]. Yes. They would have enjoyed it, though. Yes. Oh, they had a great time. So right in our little group, it was [enjoyed]. But I think I find it really – you know,
when I did CABARET, it was really interesting, because the audience was like the other actor
for me. I didn’t really engage with anyone else
on stage, you know, (GESTURES, ANNOUNCING) “Sally Bowles!” The only people I really talked to were the
audience, and so they were different every night, and so that made it exciting, because
you had a different actor almost every night to play off again. And then, of course, the bits when I really
did engage with them physically, that was quite scary and different every night. And now, in DESIGN FOR LIVING, I thought that
wouldn’t be the same, ‘cause you know, I haven’t done a play for a long, long time,
if you don’t count CABARET. But I really love the way that – ‘cause
it’s a challenging play, you know. It’s actually not what people think it’s
going to be like. It’s about topics that I don’t think people
would have thought Coward would have written or would have written seventy years ago. And so, that’s really interesting, ‘cause
the kind of music of it changes every night, depending on the audience’s reaction to
it. Do you find your performances change, if the
audience is completely different every night? Especially when they cough. If you don’t get laughs? Do you adjust, for instance? A strong audience gives you permission. You have to mug a bit more. Yeah! (LAUGHS) If they cough on a good word, a word that’s
significant – I’m sorry. No, no, no, no. Well, what you were saying about the audience
being different? Yeah. And do you respond? Do you change? Sure. I think if you feel an audience is real – it’s
not even – it doesn’t even have to respond. It’s kind of you can feel it. Yeah, you can feel it. The vibration of appreciation or understanding
or getting it. Or listening. And so, it makes you soar, you know? You’re so one. I mean, that’s what THE SEARCH is really
about that theatrical experience, of sitting in an audience and the whole symbiosis of
it. How do you adjust to it, if you find the audience
is not working with you? Well, you know, I’ve performed so long. Frankly, I love the audience. I think it’s a big element to expressing
anything you’re going to express on stage, is you really have an absolute, genuine complete
forgiveness and acceptance and love of the audience. A student wrote me a note one night. She said, “I’ve been stewing over a note
my acting teacher gave me, which is ‘If you can’t love the audience, why bother?’” And she said, “I’m leaving tonight, I’ve
never felt so loved!” (LAUGHTER) But I mean, THE SEARCH is also
an affirmation of the audience, you know, an absolute – You also have an obligation to the audience. Yeah, right. But the audience is an absolute – I mean,
at the top of THE SEARCH, I always say, “I was so afraid you wouldn’t show up! I mean, without you, there’d be little point
in me being here.” That’s completely – Pretty direct. Only too true! I always like to find out what personality
they have. And I can usually tell in my first ten lines
what they respond to. Yeah, yeah. (GENERAL AGREEMENT) What they’re going to respond to, of course. And if it’s not any of those ten, I go,
“Oooh! Well, who are you?” (LAUGHTER) I love that. Well, different nights have different – Do you also have that experience that always
in the first row, somebody’s sleeping! Oh, God! (LAUGHTER) Always in the first row! I don’t know why. Second row, no. Third row, no. First row! And usually it’s a man, and I understand
him. The poor man was dragged by his woman. (LAUGHTER) Yeah! (GENERAL AGREEMENT) But cell phones are the
worst now. Cell phones are driving me crazy. Oh, it’s terrible. I’ll kill with the cell phones! At AIDA, they have cell phones going off? Oh, yeah. Sometimes. Or the cell phones. Every now and then. Yeah, I hate that. And it’s always in the wrong key! It’s the time, AIDA, you know? (LAUGHTER) Yeah, it’s in the wrong key, like di-di-da-na-nah! I’m like, no, naaah-naah! It’s terrible. Oh God. That is so true. But I always believe that the audience is
like, they don’t understand. The audience believes it’s the fourth wall,
and so therefore, they get away with a lot more. Not understanding that, I think, (LAUGHS)
at 160 [West] 47th Street – obviously, at yours, too – we have a relationship! So when you walk into the building, we have
just engaged in a big relationship here. Lovely! It’s live up here. It’s not a 3-D movie, you know? And so therefore, I hear everything, I feel
everything. I hear that sneeze in the back row, you know
what I mean? But it’s this symbiotic relationship, and
you give as much to me as I can give to you. Totally. You help my performance. And so, that audience is with me the entire
way. Even if I don’t hear a word, and that’s
sometimes the best time, you know, that’s what we have! It’s funny because – and this might sound
a little, you know – but before the curtain goes up, I say a prayer every night. And I pray for the audience, I really do. I say, “Lord, help them. You know, let the cell phones not ring.” (LAUGHTER) Let them turn the phones off, right! But I do pray for them, because I do believe,
as Miss Tomlin says, that I love you. If they weren’t there, I would not be here. I love them, too! But don’t cough! But don’t cough! (LAUGHTER) And turn your cell phone off! But I’m not bitter! And the talking – But that’s now become a curtain prologue,
in every theatre. Yeah, the phones and the pagers, and then
somebody’s talking. Yes! “That’s the girl! I see her! That’s the one!” Or then he looks up who this is. Yeah! And the lights, the flashlights sometimes. We had a friend in a show who said that they
were onstage one night and they heard the cell phone go off, and they heard the person
say, “I’m at the theatre … Eannh.” (GESTURES TO INDICATE “It’s not too good.”;
HUGE SHRIEKS OF LAUGHTER). Oh, that’s so funny! Oh, that’s awful! Oh, that’s so bad. I would hear that. The nice thing is that in JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG,
the audience is also the audience in the courtroom. So sometimes, I play that. And I have a big speech, and then they were
coughing constantly. So I said, “Don’t cough! I have to say something very important!” And they thought it was part of the play. (LAUGHTER) That’s great. And all my colleagues looked at me, they were
absolutely flabbergasted. Nobody coughed any more! (LAUGHTER) That’s wonderful. It’s cough season, everybody’s coughing. I almost once said, “Everybody who coughs
would have been one of the guilty ones!” (LAUGHTER) Do you find any difference between a matinee
audience, and the evening? Oh! (GROANS) Mmm-hmm! (GENERAL AGREEMENT) I think each night is a different personality. Me too, me too! I find some matinees are fantastic. Yeah, I love them. I don’t do Wednesday matinees, except occasionally. They’re great! And I’ve had very good Wednesday matinees,
and I usually have very good Saturday and Sunday matinees. What? You’re a real star! Oh, yes. (LAUGHS) Saturday nights are always a bit weird, I
think, as well. Where’s my hearing aid? Yes! We come to the thee-ay-ter! Yeah. That’s them. (DOES A GREAT AMERICAN ACCENT) “We’ve
left the babysitter at home, we’re gonna have dinner, and back on the Upper West Side
by eleven o’clock!” (LAUGHTER) “Prove to me you can sing! Prove!” But you know, it changes with each show. Because usually Friday nights in other shows
that I’ve [done] are not the greatest nights. We call it “the bridge and tunnel crowd,”
you know? (LAUGHTER) They’re out there, and it’s
like, “Mmm-hmm.” But for some reason, BELLS ARE RINGING, Friday
nights are fantastic, you know? And so, it changes. Hmm. Friday? Yeah! Thursday nights. I love Thursdays. (LAUGHS) Thursdays are good for AIDA? We all got paid, so we’re all happy. (LAUGHTER) Thursday nights are great. Every now and then, like a Tuesday night,
you know, you get the “suits,” as I call them. Yeah, yeah. Because it’s during the week, and so it’s
a little stiff, you know? And in the end, they always jump up. These people have gotten tickets for business
clients. Yeah, business, right. (GENERAL AGREEMENT) Yeah, it’s the cost of that stuff. (PH) Our matinees have a lot of students, so those
are the screams, you know? “Heather, have my baby! (LAUGHTER) I want you!” (LAUGHTER) Well, it’s great to hear that stuff still. Wow! Nobody says that to me! (LAUGHTER) Well, when you do AIDA! Have my baby, Faith! Have my baby! And Jennifer Ehle, who’s in the play with
me, said that this friend of hers in London – you know, we’re talking about people
sleeping and coughing – she went to theatre and someone died in the theatre! (GASPS) Yes! (NERVOUS LAUGHTER FROM THE AUDIENCE) And then
– (HE GIGGLES, STOPS) It’s not funny! That’s no problem! Then she called her up in a couple of days,
“It happened again!” She went to the theatre again and someone
died! Like really next to her. I wonder what the play was. I said, “Don’t come to our play!” (LAUGHTER) Also, I mean, the empowerment of how much
you all know about the audience is interesting. I was at the theatre one night, and at the
end, I had a friend in the company and there was somebody else I hadn’t met, and she
said, “Oh, you were the one with the sweater!” And I thought, “You saw me sitting out there
with my green sweater? You realized that?” Oh, yeah, you can see everything. Eeww! I called out this woman the other day, taping
the show. (GASPS OF HORROR FROM THE PANEL) I can’t
stand it! I just, you know – You stopped in the performance? I didn’t stop. No, I wish I could. I’m not there yet. (LAUGHTER) I really wish I could! Oh, so you’re not a Vice President! (PH) No! “By the way, ma’am, we’re in Egypt,
but can you put that video camera down?” (LAUGHTER) I can’t do that just yet! They would kill me. But I just can’t stand it, but I see! A lot of times, audience members don’t know
how much we see. And I remember, I went backstage in the five
minutes that I have and I was just like, “Six rows back, four in, she’s in a gray sweater,
she has long hair, it’s thinner. She’s gonna put the – ” You know, I
went through the whole thing, ‘cause you just – How could you feel this? I thought you were concentrating on the part? Oh, I can see it. Well, you just see the red light, and then
that person just becomes this thing (LAUGHTER) that you just can’t take any more! (GESTURES WITH HER FISTS; LAUGHTER) In THE KING AND I – And then they got the video, and they brought
it back. And she had, like, closeups of us. It was a movie! And so, I had them erase the whole thing. I was gonna leave her a message, but I didn’t. It won an Academy Award, you know? (HEATHER LAUGHS) With KING AND I, I was doing “Hello, Young
Lovers.” And I turn and see in the front row, this
woman take out the biggest bag of Ruffles potato chips! (GASPS OF HORROR FROM THE PANEL) Sam’s Club,
you know, one of those? (LAUGHTER) Oh, isn’t it awful? (MIMES THE WHOLE THING) Open it up, get her
son, he reaches in, they are eating Ruffles in front while I’m going “Hello, young
lovers, whoever you are … ” (LAUGHTER) And then I walk off stage, I go, “Get the
Ruffles out!” They went out and got it and took it from
the woman. Oh, that’s good. And it was like, this is not the movies, you
know? No, but I think part of modern days is that
they’re empowered because they think they’re at home and they can get the Ruffles potato
chips with the television. You’re not going to stop them. It was that big. (GESTURES TWO FEET BY THREE FEET, CHEWS; LAUGHTER) But I still love you! I love you all! (LAUGHTER) I do! Don’t be too spoiled. In Shakespeare’s time, it was worse. Really? Oh, yeah. (GENERAL AGREEMENT) They were drinking, they were eating. Shagging, probably. (LAUGHTER) “Shagging,” did you say? (LAUGHS) You had to get the attention. Very famous. (PH) You know, actually, Shakespeare was the
first one who was a rapper. Because John Bowland (PH), who wrote the music,
he wrote for the soliloquies and he wrote music. So when he says, “To be or not to be,”
buh-duh-dum-bum-bum!, “that’s the question,” duh-duh-dum-bum-bum! (LAUGHTER) And it was very effective. That’s true. It’s very effective, because music goes
easier into the ear and into the heart than just words. Well, some places you expect it. I mean, you know, I’ve worked outdoor theatre
where, you know, they had the hot dogs in the thing. It’s like, “How are you? Carousel!” (LAUGHTER) But you know, I don’t know. Broadway theatre, I don’t expect Ruffles
potato chips. (LAUGHTER) Call me old-fashioned! Call me goofy! It’s awful. But I also know that people who try to get
new audiences in, you know, there’s a mistaken notion that you can go to some place where
they don’t normally go to the theatre and hand out tickets and say, “Look, free tickets!” And Ruffles! (LAUGHTER) No, “Leave the Ruffles at home!” But they don’t know how to behave, they
don’t know how to dress! Theatre is a dying art form, you know? Most people’s experience is of watching
things in cinemas or at home on videos. It’s rare in people’s lifetime, the number
of times they will go and see a live theatre show. So it’s understandable, in a way. Sad, but understandable. Don’t say it’s a dying art form. No, but it is! No, it is not. It is so! (LAUGHTER) No, it is not. I’m not saying it’s going to die, but
it’s dying, like the way the planet’s dying. It’s been dying, really. Shall I tell you why it’s not dying? Okay. (LAUGHTER) I’m sorry. I’m interested, too. I want to hear, too. Shall I say? Yeah, for sure! (LAUGHTER) Well, because it’s a form of communication. It is, like (GESTURES TO THE AUDIENCE) we
have now an audience, and they live with us. And they applaud or they laugh or they cough,
whatever. (LILY LAUGHS) And when you’re home, who
coughs for you? That’s why they put applause in. I saw once one of those men who did that,
you know? And he was watching the movie and then he
pushed a button, “Ha-ha-ha-ha!” And he was laughing, “Ha-ha-ha-ha!” And then the producer came and said, “I
think there should be half a laugh there.” “Okay.” Run back, and there’s (MIMES PUSHING BUTTONS)
“Ha-ha! Wa-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha-ha! (LAUGHTER) You know? And really, it’s made so, at home, people
feel in a community. What I want to say it, going to the theatre,
getting dressed, taking the pain to buy tickets, be in a community who are interested in that
play, that will never die. I agree with you. Let’s hold it right here. The guy who pushes the button for the laughs
this time told me we should break now (LAUGHTER), so let’s take a little break. (APPLAUSE)
MALE VOICE This is CUNY-TV, the City University of New
York. (APPLAUSE) Welcome back to the American Theatre
Wing’s “Working in the Theatre” seminar on Performance. Before returning to our panelists, I would
like to remind you that these seminars and the Tony Awards, given for excellence in the
theatre, are only a part of the activities of the American Theatre Wing. They are, perhaps, the most visible efforts,
but the Wing is so much more. As a not-for-profit charity, the Wing’s
mission is to promote excellence in the theatre and to provide educational and humanitarian
services through the theatre we all love. Our meaningful programs for students include
“Introduction to Broadway,” which in its ten year history has enabled close to 100,000
New York City high school students to attend a Broadway show, many for the first time. The Wing also introduces young people to theatre
and the magic it unfolds, by bringing professionals into schools, for workshops, as a part of
our “Theatre in School” program. Our hospital program, dating back to World
War Two, when we created the legendary Stage Door Canteen, continues to provide volunteer
professionals to entertain patients in hospitals, nursing homes, AIDS centers and child care
facilities. Additionally, our grants and scholarship program
provides financial support where it is so needed. We take pride in the work we do, and remain
grateful to our members and everyone who helps make possible the dynamic programs of the
American Theatre Wing. Our work strengthens the ties between the
theatre and the community, and we very are proud to be a part of this great effort. So now, having said that, let’s return to
our fascinating panel on Performance, and our fascinating moderator (TED LAUGHS), Ted
Chapin. (APPLAUSE) I wanted to pick up on two things that we
had talked about before the break, the audiences and technology, ‘cause you were talking
about the cell phones. And I wanted to impress you all by saying
that I went on four Web sites last night, ‘cause four of you that I know have Web
sites. And I wanted to ask about them and the philosophy
of them. Daniel, I didn’t find a Web site for you. You had a run on THE NANNY – Yes. – and obviously had a coterie of fans from
that. Was there pressure to have a Web site? There was pressure to have a Web site, and
actually, somebody started up a Web site. But I had it removed, because they used an
lot of unauthorized information and they put my sister and my nephews’ addresses and
they put my phone number in Los Angeles – how they got it, I don’t know! So it made me a little unhappy to have that. And I didn’t authorize any of the use of
the information. So I never got around to establishing one
for myself. And I felt very invaded by that, because they
had called theatres where I had worked and gotten pictures and posted them on the Web
site. A lot of them were, you know, the unauthorized
use of pictures, and I’m not crazy about all of that stuff. Those of you who have authorized Web sites,
what was the thinking behind [it]? What is the thinking? Well, who else besides me has one? (LAUGHTER) Heather, Alan and Faith. Well, mine, I consider it another form of
entertainment. It is! It’s entertaining. (LAUGHS) And mine’s sort of like a twenty-four hour
theatre, where you’re on a little storefront theatre. And also, then, a practical ambition I have
is to get everything I own, every photograph, every document, on the Net and then have no
paper in my life. (LAUGHTER) And no photographs! (LAUGHS) And I mean, my site is really for
hardcore fans just to have fun. You know, it’s quite interactive and it’s
just to horse around and have fun. Do you have a “Talk to Lily Tomlin” part
of the Web site? No. I mean, interactive by the sense that you
can make stuff on it do stuff and you can go different [places] – it’s very hypertextual. No, no, that I got. I had a lot of fun with it! No, no. (SNARLS) I don’t want to have anything to
do with talking to them! (LAUGHTER) That’s why we have them! Well, I don’t want to let go of that. Is that why you [have one]? Well, no. It’s a dual reason for me. There are quite a lot of unofficial Web sites
about me, and I just thought, you know, along the lines of all that, that it would be nice
to have an official. Also, I’m so bored of answering the same
questions in interviews that now I just say, “Actually, you know, you could find all
this out on my Web site, and you could ask me something more interesting in this time!” That’s a really great thing. (TED LAUGHS) And also, yeah, really I’m
interested in the Internet and the whole thing, and you know, it’s just been fun to kind
of entertain people who like you. And also, I’ve got little bits, there’s
a section called – I’ve got six sections. (TO TED) You couldn’t do it, ‘cause you
didn’t have [the software program] Flash, you see. I know. See, it’s the one I couldn’t get on. I tried! But I’ve got six sections that are like,
you know, bits of my personality. (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) And then there’s
this one bit called “Alan-Land,” where I’ve put things on, like I’m putting on
pictures of things I’ve eaten. (LAUGHTER) As a sort of kind of satire on
this kind of obsession with celebrity. You know, I thought, “I’m not going to
do pictures of myself, I’m going to do pictures of things that I have eaten.” (LAUGHTER) You’re kind of inspiring me! Yeah, I’m going to rethink this, now. Yeah, me, too. I have a Lily Pond on mine, and then I shoot
fans outside the theatre, like this. And they’re holding up the lily pads (GESTURES
WITH HER HANDS OVER HER HEAD) and it says, “Because of us, she walks on water!” (LAUGHTER) That’s great. That kind of, you know, foolish stuff, too. And Heather’s had a journal. So I know you’re leaving the show sometime
to publicize your album. Right, sometime. Yeah, all my business on the Web! But no, I write a journal in my personal life. And so, I thought that I would write a journal
for the Web site as well. I told them that when I started it, (LAUGHS)
you know, I was one of those people who did not want to do it at all. And so I said I had to have a lot of, you
know, say into how the Web site would go down and things. It should be part of my personality. And I try to answer most of the mail. You know, even if it’s “Hi, this is Heather. Thank you for writing,” that kind of thing. So I do have a journal, and it documents everything
from the beginning of the show. So about February, it went through the Tony
time. And so, you know, there’s a lot of, “I
don’t know! And I don’t know!” and then “Aaaahhhh!” (LAUGHTER) So that’s pretty much it. Do you think more people wait at the stage
door or write you mail because of the Web site? Or is part of this to sort of give them an
access to you that maybe the traditional routes are not being used anymore? I think it’s both. Partly a thing that you hope that people might
– I mean, I don’t know. It’s a hard thing. It’s quite a difficult area to discuss,
because people do get offended. But you know, there is some level, I find,
of invasion into your life that is unacceptable. And in some way, having a Web site, people
can go to that and you put personal things there that they can see, and maybe they won’t
– It’s a way to funnel it. They’ll leave you alone, then. Yeah, maybe, you know. And I started it, because I was doing concerts
and things like that, and people would want to know certain things. And it was really hard to try to get together
a mailing or a way to reach them. And somebody had put up a fan sort of page,
and I just had no control. So actually, Sarah Hess (PH) who works with
me, she does the whole story. And she’s my assistant, so she’s been
through the whole BELLS things. So people love to tune in to see, like, what
occurred that week and things like that. It’s the squirrel cap (PH) I read last night. Yes! Did you read that? Well, I just said, those of you who didn’t
see it won’t know what the squirrel cap is. There you go! It’s true. Moo-cha-cha (PH). The fifth vision. Did you have to buy your name? Yes! You know, I had to, like, do a big legal thing
to get my name back. Yeah, I did, too. Yeah. Did you have to give them cash? I gave ‘em some cash. You see, the thing is, you know Julia Roberts? I gave ‘em a donation to a charity. What happened to Julia? Well, she did this big court case and said,
you know, why should we have to buy back our own names and stuff? And so, it overturned the whole thing. And now, you don’t have to pay money. There’s this whole kind of precedent. Well, I didn’t have to pay much. Don’t worry! (LAUGHTER) Oh, that’s good. But thank God for Julia Roberts. It wasn’t like someone had registered “Sony”
or “Ye Old Sex Shoppe,” you know? (LAUGHTER) I mean, I have heard for years – I don’t
even know if this is still the case – that, you know, Nathan Lane is “Nathan” because
his name is “Joseph Lane,” but there was already a “Joseph Lane” in Equity, so
he had to find a new name. And some of those people with initials are
there. I wonder if that still goes on? Or is the Web influencing Actors’ Equity,
where if in fact, this is my name, I can have it? I don’t know. Well, in the early days of the Net, you know,
enterprising people just registered as many things as they could come up with, and then
people that they thought might potentially have a Web site, I suppose. Yeah. And there’s .com, .net, .org, so you can
go to this place and find out who’s bought your name. And the one that had my name is called “Celebrity
Sites,” (LILY LAUGHS) and they just buy celebrities’ names. On sale. Yeah! On sale. Just a dime a dozen. Yeah! Forgive me, what is a Web site? (LAUGHTER) It’s like a place. Well, it’s not theatre. It’s like a thing on your computer. It’s sort of like heaven. (LAUGHS) You go and it’s like – I only went to the typewriter, that’s all. Oh, well, then. And still with two fingers. But you don’t do email? I feel like I’m still using a quill pen. (LAUGHTER) From the Jurassic era. I really don’t know what a Web site is. It’s like a sort of magazine in cyberspace,
about someone. Yeah, but what is cyberspace? Oh, you need somebody to sit you down with
a computer and show you. It’s like magic. It’s like a telephone line. It’s like instead of phoning someone, you
write, type on the thing – Yeah, but the telephone I can imagine. You know, they put the cable under the ocean. Oh, no. There’s no logic to the computer world. (LAUGHTER) I don’t think you should even
start. It’s gonna get very slippery. It’s like heaven! (LAUGHS) Yes, it is like heaven. It’s got all these things called “virtual
reality,” which of course is a kind of weird – Do I have to type in? There is a keyboard somewhere that looks like
what you’re familiar with, but beyond that, who knows? And of course, what I love now is that everybody
gets dependent on it, because you can do things very quickly. And we can talk about Web sites, and we find
fun (PH) and we can find louis (PH) the heads(PH) and stuff like that. And then it goes down, and you can’t light
the show. You can’t do the show because the computer
isn’t operating. I mean, I think there are downsides to all
of this. Oh, yes. It’s a perilous time! (LAUGHTER) Also, I have to say – Let’s get back to the language of theatre. A little diversion, Isabelle, there. Well, also, this is probably going to sound
very old-fashioned and not in keeping at all with what you all talking about with the Web,
but there’s a thing that I’ve always felt about being an actor, that the less people
knew about me personally, the more effective my work could be. Because I could disappear, which is, I mean,
one of the reasons I wanted to be an actor when I was a child (LAUGHS) was to disappear! And I still think that’s a very interesting
thing about a relationship between the actor and the audience, that you are more acceptable
– it’s one of the things about doing the television series which was kind of nervous-making
for me, and why I was happy to play a character that was so far removed from the normal things
that I did. First of all, it sort of became a reverse
trap, because it got the world thinking that that’s who I was, that character, and it’s
just a character. So then you have to come along and undo some
of – not damage – but you have to control your image all the time, as an actor, so that
you can move from part to part and be accepted in other roles. Because it’s not the audience that has trouble
accepting you in other roles as much as it is, sometimes, the people on the other side
of the table who’ve decided, “No, you’re the butler and, you know, that’s how we
want to see you from now on.” So I like to keep my personal stuff to myself,
so that it doesn’t get into the work and they don’t know about that. And to me, it makes the work more interesting. I think that’s a very important, important
point. (IN A SHARP, NASAL VOICE) Well, what am I
supposed to do about it then, Danny? (LAUGHTER) You can do both! I was actually going to ask you, since you
do do both! We can just leave it there, if you want. (LAUGHTER) Maybe we should go and see if there
are any questions from the audience and get us out of this quagmire that we’ve gotten
ourselves into. (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) Sorry! It’s a virtual quagmire. It’s a virtual quagmire! It’s only too true, you know? FEMALE VOICE
Hi, my question is for the whole panel. What advice would you give to young actors
or students just starting out in the business? I know that’s bad, but. I would say, be yourself. That’s the most important thing you have,
and the thing that makes you most attractive. Remember yourself, you know. ‘Cause it’s interesting, (TO DANNY) what
you were saying, I kind of disagree. And as I’ve grown older, I used to think
that you put all these things on top of yourself as an actor, layers of things for the character. And then I actually realized that what’s
more important is letting stuff of you come out. You know, like being more prepared to be vulnerable
in a way. It’s not a contradiction, though. No, it’s kind of dual thing, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah. I would like to say, there are many young
actors who come to me, and then I usually say, “What roles would you like to play?” And they don’t know. They just want to be famous. And I think there are two advices. Read, as much as you can, the classics and
the modern plays. Learn them, and do it for yourself, like a
musician. He’s playing for years only for himself,
exercising, discovering music. And the second is, live as fully as you can,
because the more you stretch out your soul or your heart, the more characters you can
portray. Yeah, I think we’ve seen that on this group
of people who have lived. Is that right? I believe you’re correct. (LAUGHTER) Next question? And you’ve lived quite a full life! How do you know? I can feel that. FEMALE VOICE
This is a question for everyone. How do you like dealing with the new mikes
that are being used today in theatre, as opposed to, like, older mikes maybe? I love them, because I can whisper. In the play, do you have mikes? Mmm-hmm. Do you? Every theatre has now mikes. We don’t. No, we don’t? (DOES THE VOICE OF AN ELDERLY BRITISH ACTOR)
Oh, no! No! (LAUGHTER) In my day, we had to have Voices! (LAUGHTER) I had to direct a scene, when you had to do
a confession, in a church? And you know, it was built, and I couldn’t
hear anything. And too loud wasn’t good. So we got a new idea to put mikes in there,
and it was fantastic, how this whisper came over, but the secret and the mystery remained. So for these moments, I think it’s wonderful. When I played Everyman (PH) in the Southport
(PH) Festival, we had eleven thousand people, so. Fair enough! Yeah. Yeah. It may be good to have a mike. Also, sound has taken a big leap in the last
few years, because really, what they’re trying to get back to is sort of a natural
thing, where you’re hearing the person’s voice, but it is amplified. So it’s not just coming from a speaker,
that you’re hearing amplification. I mean, the sound that I deal with every night
is fantastic! And I feel like I am projecting, as I like
to do. Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. But it’s tempered in such a way that they
really get the best sounds out. But I think the question is very right. Yes. Because we have the Longacre Theatre, which
is a pretty big theatre, eleven hundred seats. And the first audience row is, in certain
seats, here, just in front of me. And the others are, I don’t know, about
fifty meters away. And they can both hear. Well, the problem is, to have this intimate
tone in the scene with my daughter, for example, that is not too loud for them (GESTURES TO
THE FIRST ROW). Right. But reachable for those (GESTURES TO THE BALCONY). Mmm-hmm. So that’s, in a way, a wonderful art. Yes, it is. Yeah. And that makes also the difference to films,
because in films, it’s enough you think. Look at Marlon Brando, the less you say (LAUGHS)
the better it is! But he was always thinking. Actually, he’s reading the lines, but that
doesn’t matter. (LAUGHTER) But I also think it’s good that we’ve
heard two plays on Broadway that are not using any amplification. That’s interesting, yeah. I think that’s terrible, that that’s a
good thing, do you know? It’s a terrible indictment of the state
of affairs if we’re going “Hurrah! Two plays where they’re not using mikes!” Well, but as Faith said, we’re in an era
where everybody is [using mikes]. It depends on how elegant (PH) the sound is
really, you know? And I think the acting style is very different
now. I mean, it’s not histrionic. You know, the great, profound projection is
really rather artificial. You know, it’s oratorical in a way. And even though some people have more resonant,
richer, fuller voices that will carry further and so on, still it is difficult to maintain
intimacy and play it really naturalistically. And it also influences the style. That’s right. If you hear records by John Barrymore, “Now,
I am alone …” That’s what I’m saying, it’s artificial. You know he has no mikes! Yeah. (GENERAL AGREEMENT) He has to project, and that’s the whole
style. Where do you wear your mike, just out of curiosity,
in AIDA? Oh, I have two. I carry two packs, because I’m not offstage
enough. So if anything went wrong, they couldn’t
change it. So I have to carry everything. And they wanted my bald head on stage, so
at first, the mike was here (GESTURES TO HER EAR), but it was catching all my jaw noises. So they created a wig that, you know, carries
my mike. So I have two packs. I’m pretty well loaded. (LAUGHTER) I wear two packs, too. But (GESTURES TO THE TOP OF HER HEAD) I wear
a light sensor, too, because, you know, I have lights that follow me. Oh, yeah? Oh, do you? And what, you’ve got a little thing and
it – how exciting! (LAUGHTER) It is! I want that! Let’s get that! (LAUGHS) And a lighting designer the other day said,
‘cause I said, “These lights follow the actors.” “No, no, no, no, no. The actors are following the lights.” So I’m glad to prove him wrong. Wow! Is it like a – you work – Yeah, it’s a sensor, you know. A sensor I wear, so I wear two mikes and a
sensor pack around my [waist]. Do you feel heavy? No. Not much. The first night I got ‘em on, it was like
“Uh!” And then all of a sudden – They give me one of ‘em up here, too, under
my hair. Yeah, yeah. I said no to two packs, but I have two cords. Yeah, and they can plug you in. It depends on your costume. Well, ‘cause they wanted to put it in the
front (GESTURES TO HER BREASTS), and I went, “I don’t want to have – ” (LAUGHTER) And if your costume isn’t going to cover
it. Yeah, it was gonna cover it. So I said, “How about one pack, and if I
go out, then we’ll go to two?” Right. So I sort of negotiated with them. But I do have two cords, so they can just
plug it in to one if one goes out. Yeah. I liked in THE KING AND I, when they decided
what to do with the King of Siam. Because the last production, he had hair. It was a clump of hair, which is very much
in keeping with the period. And everything was in there. (LAUGHTER) The mike, the pack, the batteries,
the whole works! (LAUGHTER) The battery? Everything, too, are you serious? Yeah! Everything was there. Oh, God, that’s good. That was their solution. (LAUGHTER) Another question? FEMALE VOICE
Hi, everybody. I’m wondering how you would recommend an
aspiring actress get an agent? Or actor? (LAUGHS) Get an agent or get an actor? (LAUGHTER) No. FEMALE VOICE
Get an agent. (LAUGHS) I think we got it. Getting an actor is easier. (TED LAUGHS) I really don’t know. It’s an arbitrary thing. It’s Catch-22. When I came to New York, I went to see a production
of SCRAMBLED FEET, that a friend of mine was the understudy and he went on that night. And this is a story I actually told for the
Broadway book, but my mom went with me that night. And you have to know my mom. She’s not Mama Rose, she’s completely
the opposite. So when she actually speaks, I listen, I listen! (LAUGHTER) And we were sitting there watching
the show and she leaned over to me at intermission, she said, “I really think you’d be very
good for this show.” And I said, “Really?” And she goes, “Yeah, I think you’d be
great in it.” So I spent the second act sort of looking
at it, going “You know, she’s right, I could do this show.” So afterwards, they were talking to a group
of students, and I don’t know to this day what possessed me. But I raised my hand and they called on me
and I said, “Yes, do you need another girl (LAUGHTER) for the show?” And they said, “Well, actually, we’re
looking for somebody. Do you play the piano?” And I said, “Yes.” And they said, “Do you, you know, sing?” And I said, “Yes.” So I went and got an appointment with the
stage manager and got the job and an agent found me in Boston. My point is, just get seen. Do a reading, be relentless, do anything,
until somebody can see you and see your talent. Didn’t you go to a university that brings
students to New York and displays them for agents? Not at that time, they do now. It’s very, you know, commercial now. They have a night where everybody performs,
but not when I was there. Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. There’s really no rule. No. It’s just one way! (LAUGHS) But I don’t know if anybody knows this,
Elizabeth Bergler (PH), she was one of the great, great actresses of all time. And she told me that she just stood for thirty
days in front of the theatre, and each day, Max Reinhardt came out and she said, “I
want to play a role for you.” And he was so angry, finally, after thirty
days, he said, (GROWLS) “All right, come!” (LAUGHTER) Just to get her away from him! And she became Elizabeth Bergler. And at the end, she was just, sometimes, even
fooling around, and then he said, “Look, the dress rehearsal, I have to know how you
are playing tonight!” “For that, you are Max Reinhardt, to know
how I’m going to play tonight!” And she did it, you know? So I think, you just have to, what she says. Try and take the chance. When did you get a agent, Lily, do you know? I got an agent because I got into a mime show
here in New York. That’s how I got my Equity card. And I guess I don’t even know if I had an
agent then, I don’t remember. I had auditioned for an English revue. I used to make my brother work with me, ‘cause
he’s very, very funny. And my name is Mary, but my mom’s name is
Lily. So when we were getting close to the desk
and I heard them say they were looking for English performers, so then we just put on
an English accent, you know? (LAUGHTER) And then I did an old monologue of mine, “The
World’s Oldest Living Beauty Expert,” and it’s very physical. So someone there was casting this mime show,
so they put me [in it]. I wasn’t a mime, I mean, I wasn’t a trained
mime, but I got into a mime show, and that’s how I got my name. I had said, “Lily Tomlin,” ‘cause it
sounds more English. (TED LAUGHS) Did you mime in English, then? (LAUGHTER) (LAUGHS) And anyway, I got in a mime show,
I got my Equity card. And I don’t remember how – I guess I got
an agent at the Improv, getting up at the Improv and working out. You know, someone came and saw me or something. That’s my recollection. That’s great. Another question. ADRIAN MARTINEZ
Hi, I’m Adrian Martinez (PH), and my question is for the panel. Have you ever given a bad audition, then asked
for a second chance? And did it work out? Hmm. Good question. Yeah, I have, actually. I mean, I’ve come into the room and, like
we were talking about earlier, it’s something that I wanted so desperately that I blew it. And I walked out of the room, and the stage
manager was coming to get the next auditioner, and I turned around, I went back in the room
and said, “I blew that completely. Can I have another shot?” And they said, “Sure.” And they will, usually, give you another shot,
yeah. Got the part, too! (LAUGHTER) Well, that makes you stand out, in itself! Yeah, exactly! (LAUGHS) Anybody else? I auditioned once for Martin Charnin. (LAUGHS) And I did a monologue that I was
very proud of, and for some reason, the tone of it really pissed him off. (LAUGHTER) And he went off for five minutes,
and I just stood there very still, while he just ranted and raved, and ranted and raved. And I stood very still, and I waited for him
to finish, and nobody else spoke in the room. And I said, “I have an uptempo.” (LAUGHTER) And he let me do it! That was very lucky! But for some reason, the tone of the monologue
– So, was he railing against you for having
chosen it, or the monologue itself? I wasn’t sure. I mean, it was really one of those [things]. It was almost he was mad at me because I had
really performed the piece as if I were this person, and he had a question of tone. It was interesting. The thing is, I think that it’s important
for actors to remember, is that they want you to be good. They want it to be you. They don’t know sometimes what they’re
looking for until it comes into the room, unless they have some sort of mandate to have
a name in the role or something. But if the part is actually open and they
can actually cast whoever they want to cast in it, then they want it to be you. And they are as anxious for you to be good
as you are to do well for them. And so, you know, don’t feel shy or hesitant
about asking for your fair shot, because it’s the only shot you may get at this. And so you want it to be right, and usually,
I think, they’re pretty accommodating. But I will have to say, there are some times
you walk in and people have weird sort of auras. Yeah. They might be socially inept, or whatever. Right. (GENERAL AGREEMENT) Or they’ve already made
up their minds. Or they don’t know what they want really. Yeah! (GENERAL AGREEMENT) And you can’t take that
on, either. You know what I’m saying? Yeah. You have to keep separate. And that’s why I didn’t kind of take Martin
personally, I was just like, (LAUGHS) “Okay!” (LAUGHTER) I was very lucky, because the first director
I had was my mother. (LAUGHTER) I was three years old, and I had
to play a blade of grass, in a flower play written by my father, so it was very simple. And the only mistake she made, she changed
my partner, because I was first dancing with a lily – no, with a violet – and then
she changed it to a rose, and I didn’t like the rose. So I refused to appear! (LAUGHTER) At age three! I refused to say my lines! And then my mother said, “You will get no
dinner if you don’t say your lines from the wings!” And then finally, I was so angry that I went
in front of the audience and screamed for the whole part, into the face of the audience. “I am a grass! You know now what I am!” And there was a huge applause. It was the biggest success I ever had in my
life. (LAUGHTER) And I can not repeat that. But I didn’t find an agent then. (LAUGHTER) I’m so sorry. I have to interrupt this wonderful, wonderful
panel (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL), because it’s time to close. This has been an American Theatre Wing seminar
on “Working in the Theatre,” which is coming to you from the Graduate Center of
the City University of New York. This panel has been on the performance, and
what a splendid group of performers we have here. I am eternally grateful to you for being in
the theatre, working for us, and sharing your talent with us. Thank you so very, very much for being here. (APPLAUSE)

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *