Follow by Email

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

*My interview with Marcia Haufrecht



Marcia Haufrecht is an actress, playwright, director, teacher and painter. In 1954, Marcia graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in New York. She then performed on Broadway in "Plain and Fancy," followed by the national tour of "Can Can."


Marcia has appeared as Queen Elizabeth, opposite Al Pacino in "Richard III." She has also performed at Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, The Ensemble Studio Theater, La Mama, and at Center Stage in Baltimore and the Boston Theater Company.  She has also been seen in "Dog Day Afternoon," "Win Win, " "The Night Listener, ""The Sopranos" and "Law and Order, " as well as the film "Daytrippers."


Marcia is a published playwright. Her plays have been produced at The Actors Studio, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Quaigh, The Common Basis Theater in NYC, as well as in San Francisco, Woodstock, Texas, Florida, The Company of Angels and CSU Fullerton in California, in Australia at La Mama in Melbourne and at the Kultur Im Gugg in Austria. 

As a director, Marcia has worked on both original plays and revivals at the Ensemble Studio Theater, The Actors Studio, The Common Basis Theater and in Australia, Portugal and Austria. 

Marcia was a student of Lee Strasberg and subsequently a teacher at The Lee Strasberg Institute (including NYU course) for five years. Marcia worked as an adjunct professor in the film program at Columbia University for two years. 

Marcia has taught and coached for twenty five years. Students include: Ellen barkin, Alec Baldwin, Janine Turner, Debbie Mazur, Loren Dean, David Duchovney, Uma Thurman, John Leguizamo, and Harvey Keitel. She has taught in Australia and for the past ten years in Lisbon, Portugal. She is currently teaching at the New School for Social Research in the Actors Studio MFA program.

She is a long standing member of The Actors Studio, the Ensemble Studio Theater, and is founder and artistic director of The Common Basis Theater.



I have known Marcia since I was about 6 years old. She directed my mother, Rocky, in a production of Marcia's play, "Eve," and then in her play "The Independence of Striva Kowardsky" in Woodstock, N.Y. At that time, Marcia was dating Charles "Chuck" Gordone, who was the first African American playwright awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his play "No Place to Be Somebody."  



Marcia and Gordone each left an indelible impression on my childhood and both taught me what being an artist was.
I am grateful that Marcia took the time to answer my questions. She is an amazing woman and artist.



WHERE DID YOU MEET CHUCK GORDONE?

I met Chuck Gordone in 1953. I was attending the High School of Performing Arts and a friend of mine was dating him. She took me to see the all-black production of Of Mice and Men. He was George and Clayton Corbett was Lennie. Terry Carter played Curly. Chuck won an Obie for that role.

After I graduated, I was on Broadway in Plain and Fancy. At that time, Chuck was on Broadway with Eartha Kitt and Terry Carter. Chuck and I were together for a year. He also did Genet’s The Blacks. Chuck changed my approach to acting. First Lee Strasberg helped me at the Actors Studio. Lee helped me to get in touch with myself and to learn to how to use myself, and not denying who I was. Lee gave me a way to my imagination. Then Chuck…I remember we were on the road somewhere and he said, “No. You really gotta be angry. You really got to go at him.” And I said, “I am!” and he said, “Well, I can’t see it!” Chuck gave me the understanding that I had to take what was going on internally and put it out there. To take the chance to put it out there, which we sometimes don’t do in life.

WHAT YEAR DID YOU GET INTO THE ACTORS STUDIO?

In 1963. Over a period of two years. I did four preliminary auditions and then one final.  Of course it was nerve racking. I hate tests.  It took that long to get the right scene and to have learned the process of acting well enough to stay focused on the elements of the scene and not the audition.  Besides the last scene I did I was down to panties and bra both semi-see through.  And there you have it!

HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED IN ACTING OVER THE YEARS?

I don’t think anything really has changed. To me, the thing that all artists are looking for is Truth.

 CAN YOU TALK ABOUT LEE STRASBERG’S WORK?

The relaxation and the sensory were what helped me to connect with something, that helped me to believe in the circumstances—so that I could behave in it. If I could believe in it, I could act on it. My anchor is always the sensory work. Finding the truth. I think there are additional techniques to the relaxation that helped me with connecting to the truth in a moment. To me, that’s the most important thing. Whatever tools you have to get there, even if you make up your own are fine.
Lee would say, “If running around the block gets you where you need to go, then run around the block.” If it works, use it. That’s what he always said. There is something about Lee’s approach that is very freeing.

 HOW DID SENSORY WORK HELP YOU?

The relaxation first. Then, being truthful. Is it there? Isn’t it there? I want to feel this imaginary cup of coffee. Ok, I’m not getting the handle, but I’m getting this other part. But I’ve added another element to the sensory work. Which Lee actually wanted but he never really pressed it, which is: as you work, with that object, what do you want to do with it? If there’s anything at all you want to do with it, let yourself do it. If you want to break it, the real thing isn’t there, it’s sensory work, you can break it. And then you can have it together again. When I got to that, I was able to get a lot of stuff.

 When you teach the sensory work, there is a sequence—the sense of smell, sight, sound, what you physically touch, what physically touches you (rain, heat, those things.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE TEACHERS (ADLER, MEISNER) WHO USED TO SLING MUD AT LEE?

You know what it is? It’s the parent/ child syndrome. Sanford, Bobby Lewis and Stella all worked in a sense under Lee at the Group Theater. He was co artistic director and, in a sense, their teacher. He was the one that first took them through Stanislavsky’s work. It was their rebellion. I’ve taught a number of students and some of them have gone on to teach. In the process of breaking away, some have been cruel or cold, but they had to do it in order to break away and I understand it’s not personal.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE AFFECTIVE MEMORY, OR EMOTIONAL MEMORY?

 Sensory exercises can become Emotional Memory’s. Your work on a smell and suddenly it brings a whole affective memory of an event or a person. Sensory work is there to stimulate.
       
                       Thought. Feeling. Behavior.

 That’s what acting is. I have the same affective memory that I use to this day. It is central to who I am.

DO YOU TEACH AFFECTIVE MEMORY?

 Yes. In a large class, I will take one person through so they can see how it’s done. I try to pick someone who is emotionally open. Some people are more frozen. It doesn’t work for everybody. Not everybody is open enough. Not every actor can cry, not every actor needs to. If it isn’t effective for them, then there are other techniques to reach them.
You just want to be truthful is what it is. To me, the work is all about creating what geniuses have automatically.

YOU HAVE TAUGHT AT NYU AND AT THE STRASBERG INSTITUTE. WHEN YOU TAKE ON A CLASS, WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO WALK AWAY WITH? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

Two things. I want them to have the sensory tools: relaxation is paramount on everything. 2. A connection to being in the moment. That is harder to achieve, that openness. The—‘ok, I’m not feeling gay and happy right now and the character is supposed to feel it.’
Then…’is it possible for a moment that the character might feel this way and if so, why?’ Going through that process.

WILL YOU SPEAK ABOUT ON CAMERA COACHING?

 It’s about what I believe and what they believe, it has to come from them. To find what is wanted in the scene, to fulfill that. I help them to find what to work with to get there. If they have a director asking them for something, you have to find a way to give it to them that’s truthful for you. Try things.

OF COURSE, YOU ARE AN ACCOMPLISHED ACTRESS, CAN YOU TALK TO ME ABOUT YOUR ROLE IN DAYTRIPPERS?

I auditioned for the role. After I auditioned, he (Greg Mottola) said I could pick which role of the two sisters. I picked the one that I wouldn’t normally be cast as. She was forceful, aggressive. That’s not who I really am. I looked through the script, looking for answers, asking the questions. “Why do I say this? Why do I do this?” If the answers aren’t in the script, then you can make it up in a way that you can believe in. I draw from personal stuff. I worked with the circumstances: our mother had just died. I made the choice that I was numb, out of it. I gave her that she was on pills, and wanted those meds. And I made the choice for who Hope (Hope Davis) was—somebody I care about and I’d really like to see.

If you know the character behaves differently from you, if I say ‘No’ to something that the character says ‘yes’ to, like people pleasing—I’ll allow myself to say No. Then, take my time in the moment and not want to do it, but then I cover that and say, ‘OK.’  I make adjustments. I take what I’m experiencing and I make adjustments to what the character might be feeling.

HOW DO YOU GET AN ACTOR OUT OF HIS OR HER HEAD?

 1.   Physically, sensorally, in the place…touch the place and connect to it. It gets them into behavior, doing instead of: “Oh, I should be…”

    2.   Speaking your thoughts. “I should be doing such and such but I really don’t want to.” Say it and say why the character might be feeling that way.
 AT THE STUDIO I SAW YOU PUT IN FOURTH WALL WITH SPEAKING OUT, WITH INNER MONOLOGUE. YES?
 Yes! You can do that at my age.

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

 Meryl Streep. Vanessa Redgrave in the Revisionist. I walked out of her Orpheus Descending. I couldn’t bear it. She is quite versatile. I don’t know if they are inspiration, because I don’t know how they do it. I think it has to do with failures in actors I think are great. That is my inspiration, because that says, “oh, I can fail, I can fuck up, I can be wrong.”  Matisse. He’ll do a painting and change it but leave ghosts of what he’d originally done. Like it wasn’t a mistake, it was just something else. They had one at the exhibit, several version of the same painting. I wish I had enough canvasses to do that with my paintings, the stages of the work. That’s what I find inspiring. To see a process that includes failures and mistakes or changes. It makes me feel like, uh…I can do that.





















































No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.