Friday, December 01, 1995

Selections from ACT One, Scene 2

This is a selection of stories and articles that appeared in the second issue of ACT One, published in December of 1995.

This is a selection of stories and articles that appeared in the second issue of ACT One, published in December of 1995.

In this Issue
Re:ACTion - The Editor’s Column- Valerie Moore
Continuing Recollections of an Antiquated Thespian- Raymond Moore
ACT Up- Updates on Activities - Gerry Gray
The Crucible- David Sherren
Our Stories

Re:ACTion - The Editor’s Column
The review in The Buzz of our production of The Foreigner caused me to feel a number of reactions. Putting aside the urge to fill George Spelvin in on my most intimate thoughts, I decided it would be better to pontificate in our own newsletter. Perhaps others might like to respond with your own thoughts in a Letters to the Editor column. 
Sean McQuaid said in his Buzz editorial, that he was happy to have someone else suffer the slings and arrows of outraged thespians. Actually, I thought the review made some very good points, but I felt Mr Spelvin seemed to forget that he was critiquing a strictly amateur group. Much as we would all like to measure up to professional standards (for the most part), is it really necessary to criticize details beyond our control, such as the visible tops of the set. Perhaps Mr Spelvin should take a tour of the theatre itself and see the inadequacies of the curtains provided. And he noticed “an apparently missed cue” (lighting) - Well, pardon me, but if an amateur group manages only one ‘apparently’ missed cue, I think it could be overlooked. It was interesting to note that Mr Spelvin thought that our sound was “quite good”. Well done you guys up in the box. I’m glad your professional status was almost recognized! 
Ok, so this guy has never met a cockney before. Either that, or he is one and so cannot understand Doug’s accent. Well now, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but is it really necessary to treat the reader as though she is another Ellard and something has to be repeated a number of times to be understood. “A carrot?” “Yes, Ellard, a carrot.” Talk about kicking a guy when he is down. Mr Spelvin must have studied under Sid Adilman at the Toronto Star. 
Now, before everyone starts tut-tutting and pointing out that at least he said nothing bad about me. Yes, I agree - and he used a rule of thumb which I try to employ myself (outside of this editorial). If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But hey guys, which of us involved in the theatre is not an egotist to some extent. Keir and I were the only ones he couldn’t find something to say about. I know I wasn’t great, but were we really so bad that Mr Spelvin could not trust himself to say anything? ACT should be justifiably proud that Mr Spelvin was favourably impressed with our sense of “community” because, after all, that is our raison d’etre. 
A standing ovation should be given to our stout-hearted hosts for the concessions stand. Lorraine and Don Poole single (or is that double?) handedly raised our income considerably.  - the editor

Continuing Recollections of an Antiquated Thespian


I was fortunate that there was a drama group, and a pretty good one too, connected with the youth group at our church. Soon I was involved as a theatre brat in various plays in a school setting. The Housemaster, The Happiest Days of Your Life, etc. 


My happiest recollections of this group are of our annual visitation to Portrush, the N Ireland equivalent of Cavendish, to participate in summer stock. One of our members had the use of a two-bedroom cottage in which we slept 23 persons - kinda crowded, but it certainly provided opportunity for social intercourse of a fairly intimate kind. 


ACT members would be interested in our experience with Thornton Wilder’s Happy Journey. This is the story of a journey by car of a husband, wife and two small children, and it also employs the device of a stage manager to set the scene. We were fortunate to win the N Ireland segment of the United Kingdom One Act Festival and traveled to Manchester to compete in the final. We didn’t win (losing out to a Welsh Women’s Institute with whom stayed in the same hotel - but that’s a different story) - but is was quite an experience to be out there in a 2,000 seat theatre. 


We used to travel to the various drama festivals in N Ireland. I recall one year we went to Larne with Romanoff and Juliet. This was the only time I was offered to part of the young male lead and I made the ultimate sacrifice by dyeing my hair black. We had this magnificent double-decker set on trucks. When I stook up in the Romanoff bedroom, my head disappeared behind the proscenium arch, so I had to play the whole scene in a semi-recumbent posture, a bit like Quasimodo. 


I recall one little performance of a colloquial Irish play The Curing of William Henry. One of the actors exited and came back the line “I’m a changed woman since came out of thon wee room.” the stage crew set up a toilet with all the fittings and the sound man let off a resounding flush as Betty re-entered to announce the historic line. Needless to say, all composure was lost. - Raymond Moore

ACT Up- Updates on Activities


ACT OUT - In August, 18 ACT members got together for a lovely dinner at Cafe Soleil and then went see Pam Campbell in Wingin’ lt at the new Art Guild Theatre. The show was well received and for a number of members, this was the first time seeing the new theatre. In September, a rousing 23 members had dinner at Pat& Willy’s and then went to see Theatre PEI’s The Glass Menagerie. There is no wondering why this play continues to move people in the way it does. A true masterpiece. The fundraising aspect of ACT OUT managed to gather an impressive $43 from the Menagerie outing. A smaller, but just as energetic group got together for dinner at Smitty’s and then an evening of one-act plays with the UPEI Theatre Society. A highly enjoyable evening of entertainment.


READING CLUB - In September, we had the pleasure of reading (and listening to)the 1927 musical The Desert Song. This popular musical was written by Sigmund Romberg with a book by Oscar Hammerstein. Those attending were treated to many laughs - not all of them scripted. In October, we read Mousetrap and in November, over twenty people got together to read The Crucible.


G&S - How much interest is there out there for doing Gilbert & Sullivan?  Tentative talks have taken place between Gerry Gray and Don Fraser of the Confederation Choir. If there is sufficient interest, ACT could find itself involved with mounting a G&S operetta in April 1997. Possible shows include HMS Pinafore or Pirates of Penzance. 


EXECUTIVE UPDATE - The executive have revised the Membership fees to encourage family membership. Fees are now as follows: Adult $25, Youth $10 (under 16), Family $40 and Summer $15. 


It is with regret I announce the resignation of Lorraine Poole as Membership Secretary. Her great talents in the administrative area have made her in demand in more places than ACT. She felt she could not, in clear conscience, give enough to all. We will miss her on the Executive, but she promises that ACT has not heard the last of either her or Don. We are still looking to confirm Directors for the May evening of one-act plays. Please let your executive know ASAP (we are beginning to panic). Also, if there is sufficient interest Valerie may consider running some scene workshops. These may or may not coincide with the Community Theatre Festival- Let us know of your interest.


The Crucible


In preparation for the ACT production of The Crucible, I conducted some research into the writings of Arthur Miller and, in particular, the origins of this powerful play. I must confess, though, it did not occur to me to examine the meaning of the word crucible until some short weeks ago. This process led to some insight. 


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition defines crucible as,


A vessel made of a refractory substance such as graphite or porcelain, used for melting and calcining materials at high temperatures.

A severe test, as of patience or belief. a trial.

A place, time, or situation characterized by the confluence of powerful intellectual, social, economic, or political forces.


This in itself is useful stuff. As the play itself is about a trial, and the definition above includes a reference to trial, I thought I’d pursue this convergence further. The American Heritage Dictionary defines trial as,


Law. Examination of evidence and applicable law by a competent tribunal to determine the issue of specified charges or claims.

(a) The act or process of testing, trying, or putting to the proof.. a trial of one’s faith. (b) An instance of such testing, especially as part of a series of tests or experiments.

An effort or attempt.

A state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance, or belief.

A trying, troublesome, or annoying person or thing.


Thought provoking stuff. From here on, I vow to use the dictionary more often. 

Simply stated, The Crucible is about the 1692 Salem witch hunt, and its ensuing hysteria, during which nineteen innocent men and women were tried and hanged. If that was all the play was about, it might make for an interesting historical drama, but of course, it has much greater relevance than that. Many people know that Arthur Miller wrote the play as a reaction to, and condemnation of, McCarthyism. Miller himself was called by the House Committee on Un-American Activities to “name names,” and when found unwilling was fined for contempt (later quashed). But how might a play about witch hunts which occurred either 40 or 300 years ago have relevance today? 

Arthur Miller wrote in a 1958 essay for The New York Times, “I was drawn to write The Crucible not merely as a response to McCarthyism. It is not any more an attempt to cure witch hunts than Salesman is a plea for the improvement of conditions for traveling men, All My Sons is a plea for better inspection of airplane parts, or A View from the Bridge an attack upon the Immigration   Bureau. The Crucible is, internally, Salesman’s blood brother. It is examining the questions I was absorbed with before - the conflict between a man’s raw deeds and his conception of himself, the question of whether conscience is in fact an organic part of the human being, and what happens when it is handed over not merely to the state or the mores of the time but to one’s friend or wife.”

The Crucible requires a cast of twenty. Women who can play either the 16-20 or 30 plus age range are needed. Men, on the other hand, should be able to play the 30 plus age range. Auditions for The Crucible will be held December 28 and 29. Call after December 18, to arrange an audition time.

Those who attended the November 15 reading may be put off by its length. I say to those who may wonder about my sanity for trying to stage such a demanding work: we have an opportunity to create some truly compelling and beautiful work. Come join in our voyage of discovery.

Miller said, “For me The Crucible was a new beginning, the beginning of an attempt to embrace a wider field of vision, a field wide enough to contain the whole of our current awareness. It was not so much to move ahead of the audience but to catch up with what it commonly knows about the way things are and how they get that way. In a word, we commonly know so much more than our plays let on. When we can put together what we do know with what we feel, we shall find a new kind of theater in our hands. The Crucible was written as it was in order to bring me, and the audience, closer to that theater and what I imagine can be an art more ample than any of us has dared to strive for, the art of Man among men, Man amidst his works.”  - David Sherren

<< Back to main page.

Posted by webmaster on 12/01 at 06:08 AM
ACT One • (0) CommentsPermalink
Page 1 of 1 pages