No one seems to object to the transcriptions and posting of AK’s comments which are at I’m putting comments and analysis on a separate blog, this one, so that people who don’t want to read such things don’t have to. This blog is set to accept anonymous comments, but I read them all and won’t tolerate flame wars. None have started.

Some of the most interesting and useful feedback on this material is coming in emails, some shared and others not shared, which I don’t want to post with names attached unless I have permission. I’m just going ahead to name the people AK named in her notes -- it’s been half a century since then, after all. Indeed, some of the email comments are arriving from people in that time period as well and those of us who know each other can probably guess who said what.

In good “discussion” mode, I’ll try to separate the issues from the people.

1. It is most moving that after fifty years the memory of personal relationships with AK have the status of love affairs, magical relationships that have inspired people for decades. They do NOT want that interfered with. Who would?

2. Likewise, there were a few people deeply wounded by past misunderstanding and schism and they, too, still hurt. To some this might be a reason to shut down, but to me it’s a reason to continue.

3. One opinion is that AK’s teaching methods are obsolete now. Students will no longer tolerate the confrontive and sometimes invasive tactics she used then. Indeed, some people wouldn’t accept them then, but they quietly went elsewhere. Is it a loss or a gain to give up the auteur model of teaching? Stanislavki was, after all, a Russian like the famously dictatorial ballet masters.

4. Is it true that academic theatre is nothing like professional theatre? You can still be tough on professional actors? (If Equity allows it.)

5. Some feel that theatre is totally different now. Whatever was important then is NOT important now. Or, to the contrary, theatre, esp. repertory theatre, is entering a renaissance that is vital and thriving across the country with new companies still being founded.

6. AK’s life trajectory is not really understandable without considering the time periods, the place, the administrators, sexism, and so on. No different from understanding a character in a play. (I confess -- this is my opinion.) All this happened before the Derrida Deconstruction craze, but we understand that, don’t we?

Mary Strachan Scriver

(Prairie Mary_

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Universities are corporations and corporations only thrive if they are growing.  One way a university grows is simply to expand the campus, so even in 1957 the blocks around Northwestern were being quietly bought up.  The U of Illinois Circle Campus was also expanding on the south side where they were buying and razing old apartments and ethnic neighborhoods.  It was a big scandal, but part of the post WWII Fifties growth movement, esp. among educational institutions fattened by the GI Bill.  Stu Hagmann’s movie, “Kali Nihta, Socrates,” tried to capture Greektown before it was erased.

The houses NU bought and were simply holding became rehearsal spaces for the arts and other deserving but undemanding entities.  There was no intention to rent to families who would demand to stay and have to be evicted.  Some of the houses down toward the lake were quite fabulous, three or four stories with tower corners and backstairs for the servants.  They were often used for teas, receptions, sorority events.  I would sneak off to the empty rooms upstairs, even into the attics, looking for ghosts.  Could feel them and smell them.  Never saw them.

Alvina Krause’s house was in blocks of modest homes built around the time AK was born or maybe a little earlier.  Her two-story house had a carriage house behind, with a little apartment upstairs.  When it was exceptionally rainy, the place smelled like mousy hay.  Otherwise it was a cozy and VERY decorated little place with front room, bedroom, bath and kitchen so tiny only one person could be in it at a time.  Certain Greek (ethnic, not frats) students were in and out that there were always squeezed lemons in the fridge.  They lived off campus and used the place as a kind of lounge.  We didn’t really identify with the campus.  (I lived in the quad dorms, of course.  It was required for girls.)  When I was there, the renters were Stu Hagmann and Tom Foral -- Maybe Laird Williamson.  it was an extraordinarily chaste place.  I don’t even remember anyone getting drunk.  Maybe someone smoked cigarettes.  Maybe when things got wicked I wasn’t invited.

AK lived downstairs in her house.  I was only in the front room, which was a parlor with fireplace, quite “English” feeling.  I was there to deliver the cast gift for “Caesar and Cleopatra,” which I had been deputized to buy.  The charge was to find a bust of Cleo, which I did because it was easy.  But what I did NOT understand was quality.  I simply bought the biggest one I could find for the money we had.  AK was very gracious and accepted it as though it were diamond-studded.  I sat for a moment in her comfortable chairs and she may have offered tea.

The entrance went into a hall with an upstairs that was a kind of balcony.  The rooms up there were rented to student actors.  Dick Benjamin and Paula Prentiss lived there -- I don’t know who else.  Maybe someone will add a comment.  I was told once that AK sleep-walked and that the students living there came out of their rooms one night, hearing noises, and found her tight-rope-walking on the balcony railing in her nightgown.  That may be apocryphal, but I wouldn’t count on it.  No doubt some day someone will claim they saw her sleep-walking across Lake Michigan.

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