It was also at 16 that I got a call from Susan asking me if I could step into a Huck Finn scene with an actress who was auditioning for the Actors Studio in a week. I remember our first rehearsal was on a Sunday night in the main space at the Studio and no one else was there. It was my first time in there and it was the perfect setting. I looked around and vowed to myself to return.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Charles "Chuck" Gordon asked me if I wanted to stage manage a play he had written and would direct. Susan Batson was starring in it. We rehearsed in a space above the Police Department on 54th Street and 9th Avenue. I decided to tape record every rehearsal so I had capture everything Chuck said. He liked to talk and his talks were profound. We spent weeks in rehearsal. I watched Susan start to create her character, working from sensation and erupting in a version of a Louis Armstrong playing his trumpet, but from the soul. The entire rehearsal process was like a workshop for me, and in fact, that is all that it was, because the work ended when rehearsals ended. I do not remember why, but I believe it had to do with Chuck. But watching Susan work the process of character creation has never left me.
At twenty I auditioned for the Studio and was accepted. A french documentary was filming me and the only other actor accepted that year- Burt Young. Being a member of the Studio allows me a place to work and to watch others work.
I did a scene at the Studio in L.A. Martin Landau and Mark Rydell were moderating. The scene before ours had gone terribly wrong. I was outside the door, so I didn't see it. But you could hear that something was wrong. By the time we were allowed in to set up, we got ready and let her rip. The Studio suddenly filled up, the floor was full of actors ready to watch. There was little room to move and I knew I would have to deal with them on my exit out the front door. Our scene ignited and we lived the relationship and the world of the playwright, it was a great feeling. Afterwards, Martin Landau said "This is the kind of work we should be seeing at the Studio."
It meant a great deal to me. The culture of the Studio is something I learned how to take part in primarily because of Susan's teachings. She continues to offer these teachings and she is at the top of her game.
Carl Ford and Susan Batson