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, October 27, 2012

PRESS THESIS: a foreword

Now I’m going to begin to record a brief overview of David Press’ thesis, called “The Acting Teaching of Alvina Krause: Theory and Practise.” (1971)

Let me begin by quoting Press in a recent communication after I explained what I was going to do: take the thesis apart and react without consulting him.

“As for my dissertation, I am grateful for your interest and that you are seriously examining it.  I was just in contact with a friend who earned a doctorate at another university who commented that he doesn't think anyone ever read his dissertation besides his committee.

“I won't be offended by your distancing yourself from me as you parse it. In my own correspondence with Miss Krause. if you remember, I express my own dissatisfaction with what I had accomplished, encouraging her to consider building upon it once it was done and approved by my committee. I was aware that I had approached Miss Krause with the proposal that we could work together to record her teaching methods.  Instead, my committee was forcing me to not just record, but to evaluate and look for sources and influences. That departure from the collaboration we had both hoped for in the beginning had led her to distrust where I was going and limited her willingness to cooperate.

Perhaps the many detailed and urging letters AK wrote to David Downs (see www.DavidGoingOn.blogspot.comwhile he launched his teaching career at NU should be seen as a continuation of the information in the thesis after calm reflection and in a less critical context.

My personal experience of thesis writing gave me a suspicion of the process per se.  Once intended to demonstrate a grasp of a body of academic material, a thesis has come to be a sort of polarization between an earnest student trying to create something worthy of publication (and entry into a professional vocation) and a small panel of mentors trying to maintain the integrity of their own work.  The slang is hoop-jumping.  Gate-keeping.  The percentage of grad students who achieve all but their thesis is high.  So many abandon the effort (I did) that it's called an ABT --"All But Thesis." A thesis may turn out to be a lifework.

The outline of David Press‘ thesis is in six chapters.







I’ll discuss at least one a day, so that will take a week or so.  Some chapters might be worth two days of discussion.  Feel free to interact, question, make corrections or whatever.  I see us as a community.  

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