(Gholson's interview with the director originally appeared in BOMB, Spring 1983.)

JoAnne Akalaitis

Craig Gholson Have you had any formal training? Did you come out of any school?

JoAnne Akalaitis No, not really. I didn’t study theater in college.

CG What did you study?

JA I studied Philosophy and Pre-med.

CG What was the process of getting involved in theater?

JA I had thought about it for quite a long time and then finally decided just to do it. I wasn’t really that interested in getting a Phd. in Philosophy. I was more interested in being an actor.

CG Did you ever seriously get into being an actor in that kind of New York way?

JA Sure, because I went to the Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco and did whatever I could to learn. We had little scene groups and stuff like that. And I studied with San Francisco Mime Troupe a little bit. And when I went to New York I did go to these various acting classes. And I quit them. I never stuck any of them out.

CG Did you ever subscribe to any of those theories, like get involved with Stella Adler or any of that?

JA Well I think that the only theory that was around at that time was the Stanislavski Method and that’s what was taught in New York and still is taught by most acting teachers. I went to an Open Theater Workshop, I think it was 1968, and that was about the time that Grotowski came to New York. And I was going to a lot of workshops, that was the era of workshops, and then I went and studied with Grotowski himself in France. Ruth Malechech from Mabou Mines and I both went. And that was, for me, a big revelation, because it was a different kind of training, a different idea about acting.

CG I’m not sure what the tenets of that are.

JA It’s not really in the long run that different from Stanislavski. But the idea is based less on immersion in character, or becoming the character and more on a series of moments in which the actor connects through his personal history which brings…working with what’s called an image to the text. So the interpretation of the text is not as important in this theory of acting as it is in, say, the Stanislavski Theory. And that theory of acting was very conducive to the way Mabou Mines started to work which was in a more abstract, less linear, less psychological mode.

CG How long did you stay in France?

JA I think it was a month.

CG So that was 1969. When was Mabou Mines formed?

JA In 1970 Mabou Mines was formed.

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