Jean Houston, Ph.D., psychologist, philosopher and researcher in human capacities, uses theater as a transformative tool in her interdisciplinary approach to teaching. Dr. Houston is the author of 26 books, including: “The Hero and the Goddess: The Odyssey as Mystery and Initiation.” This is the second of a two-part interview.
JH: I work all the time. I’ve just come from training thousands of Arab people in 10 different countries. I was in England, and it was all up on a huge screen. You could see all of these very large groups in all these countries. I trained them in some of my work in human development, in the light of social change.
EH: Do you use theatrical techniques?
JH: All the time, it’s what I am. It’s not a question of use. It’s incarnation, it’s what reality is.
EH: What makes a great play?
JH: You always have the artist’s skills sharpened, crafted. You have the statement. You have the playing of the story of the soul. I once was in the middle of Australia. I asked an old Australian aborigine, “How do we humans differ from the others: the wallaby, kangaroo, and koala?” She said, “We’re the ones who can tell the stories about all the others.” And I thought that was one of the best definitions of being human. And I think it is telling the story loud and clear and true. Often, it’s very uncomfortable. Continue reading ‘Going beyond the stucknesses of everyday life’→
Actor/author Clive Rosengren recently recorded his two mystery novels, “Red Desert” and “Murder Unscripted,” with Blackstone Audiobooks here in Ashland. The novels feature luscious language, compelling plots and a charismatic private eye who sleuths in the world of show business. Rosengren’s acting career, which spanned 40 years on stage, screen and television, provides in-depth research into the fascinating world portrayed in his books. We met one afternoon at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company in Ashland.
EH: What do you look for in a director?
CR: The most interesting experiences I’ve had in doing stage work were with directors. Some can be extremely creative. Some can be extremely tyrannical. I don’t think that a director that has everything plotted-out leaves a lot of room for creativity. It can’t be one-sided. There has to be collaboration. There’s got to be a symbiotic relationship between actor and director. Continue reading Clive Rosengren→
Leo Gorcey Jr. and his wife, Krista, are producing a film based on Leo’s book, “Me and the Dead End Kid.” The book chronicles Leo Gorcey Sr.’s theater and film career, the Gorceys’ unique family relationship, and the dramatic events leading to the original Broadway production of Sidney Kingsley’s “Dead End.”
The film is in development with plans to shoot in the Rogue Valley. I visited the Gorceys in their attractive Ashland home.
"My children grew up, as I did, in interesting households surrounded by people who encouraged individuality." — Mark Turnbull
EH: Our readers are interested in the dynamics of theater families. Does being in theater enhance family life?
MT: My family and my choice of career are intrinsically intertwined. My parents were in show business. Our family friends were funny vibrant people who interacted with me as an equal. There never was this W.C. Fields, “Go away kid, you bother me,” thing. They were just great alive people. I was surrounded by wonderful people.
Do you remember Minnie Pearl with her straw hat and a price tag on it? I was on a talk-show with her in L.A. (I signed with Reprise Records when I was seventeen.) We were in the green room, and she said to me, “Do you mind if I give you give you some advice? Stay close to your family. In this business, it’s so easy to go wandering off. Stay close to your family.” I’ve remembered that for some 40 years. A lot of the qualities the bonds, the loyalty, the responsibilities, and the camaraderie that make a great society are inherent in embryo in the family, which extends to theater. That’s what makes a great theatrical experience, for the audience especially, when they sense that embrace within the cast members.
When I became a father trying to keep a family together was interesting while doing the theatrical thing. It becomes a very, I’d hate to say, self-centered existence; but it requires that sort of intense focus. As Jack Sheldon said, “The whole day is just preparation for the stage that night. I just put up with it, so that I can get on that stage.” It sort of requires that intense focus. And if you have a partner who doesn’t understand that, and wants your attention, and makes claims on your time (and it isn’t just the time, it’s the concentration), you arrive at the theater scattered. When you have time at the theater, you can sort-of rein-in what has run amok during the day. But it’s certainly easier when you can focus on what you have to do.
When children are involved, the children can keep you occupied and away from memorizing your lines, but that’s a benign distraction. It feeds into the goodness of what can happen on the stage that night. It’s seemingly chaotic, but there is something about it that is heart centered, and one is able to refocus from that. Things that are mind-centered, or that are tearing at your ego, or create chaos in your mind, are hard to reign-in. Children can wear you out physically, but that is all of a joy, and can lead to a good thing on stage.
Financially, that’s another question, the breadwinner aspect, to make enough money in the theater to keep a family; that becomes wearing too. There are as many situations as there are theatrical families.
EH: The whole aspect of family and theater takes a lot of flexibility and sacrifice, but then you give them the gift of talent and your work?
MT: My children grew up, as I did, in interesting households surrounded by people who encouraged individuality. So they have grown-up as distinct individuals. Another secret of family life: parents learn from their children. As Gary Snyder said, “It’s like having this little 2-year-old Zen Master strolling around the house.” It’s really true, there’s so much to learn; it goes both ways. All we can do for our children, really, is to instill character and ultimately let them make their choices from their own hearts and minds.