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_

Sunday, December 16, 2012


This is a summary of William H. Wegner’s article entitled “Alvina Krause Revisited.”  The purpose is to provide a short version for people in a hurry, and also to emphasize the very important points he makes.  

As background, the fact that acting is a process means that teaching acting is also a process, very hard to reduce to a formula.  Teaching is an empathic interaction in a context of trust that manages the interaction among the structure of a script (which includes the nature of the character in question), the emotional resources of the actor, and the empathic ability of the teacher to see what might bring the actor to understand and express the character.  An audience, even if it is the rest of the cast, participates in these interactions, which can be a source of great excitement and satisfaction when it all becomes congruent.

Wegner identifies four levels of what he calls co-consciousness:

  1. A teacher who truly knows the play and scene.
  2. The evocation of the actor’s sub-text through tasks, images and objectives.
  3. An intimate knowledge of the actor so as to know what might work.
  4.   Inclusion of others present vicariously even though they are not actively working.

I take these levels to be the dynamics of empathy, what neuroanatomists call “mirror cells” and which Kelty ( calls “the space between”.  I take it to be closely related to the “bonding” dyad of mother and infant or between lovers or even between a tortured person and his tormenter.  It is mysterious, something emergent from relationship, and very powerful.  In fact, I would say the keystone to theatre.  We watch and as we watch, our internal selves subtly imitate and feel what happens.

What’s left that Wegner remarks on is AK’s remarkable vitality, which he believes (and I do as well) comes from focus, intense concentration on the job at hand.  It’s a basic counseling premise that focus provides power.

What I’m wondering about is whether the dynamics work differently in relationships of equality.  The cases I suggest above are all asymmetrical:  one person is transmitting to the other.  Onstage, while acting, it seems to me that two or more people can create something quite palpable to each other, shared and apparent to an audience.


It is a good summary.  Important I think to  stress that Chekhov's texts especially yield subtexts; hence good actors, imaginative actors are drawn to his plays  ( Struggling with Chekhov after all was what gave birth to the "Stanislavsky Method -- which of course was not a Method,reducible to the Formulaic.  But how to teach this kind of acting?  Only students with a knack for thinking in particulars, not in abstractions, are capable of responding to AK's demanding approach. Uta Hagen was skillful at this too. 

So much to think about and try to articulate.  Talking about Good Acting is hard ; I look forward to more "discussions"; but wanted to let you know
right away that I do endorse your summary.

Bill Wegner


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