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, March 30, 2013

MEMORIES from Bill Bergfeldt

Bill Bergfeldt, Speech ’57

I was at Northwestern School of Speech from 1954 - 57.  Though never a student of Alvina Krause (I was a bit afraid of her), I admired her from afar and was taken in by her spell.  she was certainly the high priestess of the NU theatre department, and was practically worshipped by some.  I heard that the greatly devoted sometimes referred to her as Jesus Krause!  Of course, there were other prominent theatre instructors at NU at the same time, such as Theodore Fuchs and Lee Mitchell.


At NU Workshop Theatre was a big thing -- where segments of plays were produced and afterwards critiqued by Miss Krause.  We looked forward to her critiques more than the plays.  One time I remember she could not be there and instead the critique was given by Lee Mitchell, Chairman Dept. of Theatre.  The audience was so disappointed I believe there were audible groans when they learned that Miss Krause would not be critiquing.

Every year she did a one woman presentation of a play.  I saw her cutting of “Tiger at the Gates” and “Teahouse of the August Moon.”  She was the best Sakini I had ever seen, which I told her.  She said she was never quite sure about her Sakini portrayal.

While I was at Northwestern she directed “Uncle Vanya,” “The Winter’s Tale,” and “The Lovers,” which was a new play.  She always expected actors to bring their own copies of the plays to auditions.  I wondered how she would handle “The Lovers” -- but sure enough she wanted to know why actors were not bringing the scripts.  They had to tell her, “Miss Krause, it hasn’t been published yet.”

Two of my favorite Alvina Krause stories -- which I heard.  Was not there.

A girl was having a lesson with AK.  Afterward she went on and on to a friend about how wonderful AK was.  The friend asked, “Oh, did she like your performance?”  The student replied,  “No, she hated it, but she is WONDERFUL!”

A Workshop Theatre production of “Miss Julie” was in rehearsal.  Miss Krause did not think there was enough revelry onstage in the dances.  She went up on stage, grabbed one of the tallest boys and had him dance with her.  Something happened.  They tripped and he fell on top of AK -- six foot guy on top of short AK.  He was so upset, not knowing what to say and very embarrassed.  Miss Krause simply got up,  dusted herself off, and said, “Well, at least you could have kissed me.”

Somewhere I read where Patricia Neal came up to Alvina Krause after a performance of  “Twelfth Night.”  She realized she had not done a good job.  She went up to Miss Krause and said,  “I will never act again.”  Miss Krause looked at her and said,  “Do you call what you did acting?”  Of course, some years later Patricia Neal won the Oscar for leading actress for her performance in “Hud.”

(Note:  Bergfeldt was in the Speech Education department and taught high school dramatics for some years.)

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