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December 07, 1982 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-12-07

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The Michioan Daily-Tuesday, December 7, 1982-Page 9

Pennell and the


By Elliot Jackson
N~ICHOLAS Pennell, the guest artist
ON. for the Theatre Department's
production of The Tempest, is an actor
at Stratford, Ont., who, since 1976, has
spent his winters not only at' the
University, but also at other univer-
sifies in the northern states, working
with young actors in the framework of
academic theater.
He does so, according to himself, not
only because he thinks it vitally impor-
tant that younger actors are taught to
handle Shakespeare, but also, "for
selfish reasons too. It helps me to look
at what I'm doing, when I'm telling
others to do something."
Pennell makes it very clear that he is
not an acting teacher, but an actor who
teaches-by acting himself. "It lends
me a certain amount of credibility with
students, that I am not, like some ac-
tjig teachers, telling them to get up
there and 'do it'-that I as an actor
have to get up there and 'do it' myself,
when the time comes."

As to the difficulties that young ac-
tors run into when they attempt to
tackle Shakespeare, it is Pennell's
opinion that "the problem lies deeper
than the way people are taught
Shakespeare; it lies in the whole
academic approach" to teaching ac-
"The academic requirements are
such," says Pennell, "that voice and
movement and other kinds of training
have to compete with paper writing and
other like demands"-within the
theatre departments as well as out.
According to Pennell, "Universities
are the only places one can train and
here one must contend with the fact
that many of the kids, coming as they
are directly out of high school, are sim-
ply 18 or 19, too young for significant ac-
ting training."
Offsetting such problems as are
posed to the acting of Shakespeare
within the university, however, is
something that Pennell says he has
found in working with students
everywhere he has gone: "an amazing

willingness to learn.
"Students, and the people who work
with them, are still willing to take risks,
in a way that older actors, who have
perhaps become set in their ways, may
not be.
"The idea that academics are deeply
entrenched in one particular way of
doing things is simply not the case."
During his stay at the University,
Pennell taught what he called "text
workshops," and audition workshops
that were basically "extensions" of the
text workshops.
"Shakespeare," says Pennell, "was
written after all to be acted-and our
job is to find emotional parallels in the
actor to what the character is saying, in
order to bring out the impact of a cer-
tain speech or action." This process, a
familiar one to actors but not to the
general audience, is one called
"emotional recall."
In Pennell's words, "No actor, ob-
viously, has had Hamlet's exact ex-
perience, that of his father being mur-
dered by his uncle, who then married
his mother, but he has had to deal with

something in his past that gives him an
idea of what experience must mean to
Hamlet, and emotional recall is the
process by which he relives that par-
ticular experience."
Pennell's involvement with the Tem-
pest production, besides the not incon-
siderable one of acting in the leading
role, entailed working closely with
director Richard Burgwin,working
scenes with other actors, and making
suggestions based on an actor's point of
view-"I would say, 'Well, this is the
way I would approach such-and-such a
thing.' "
More interesting to the audience is
not what Pennell helped others to do
with their characters, but how he
viewed his own. He rejected the notion
that Prospero must necessarily be seen
as an older man, a god-like figure,'
whose extraordinary powers are the
most striking thing about him. In fact,
he claims that the magical element can
really be overplayed: "If one perceives
him as a magician, one is distanced
from him as a human being." As to
Prospero's age, Pennell sees no reason

why he should be played as old as
Lear-in fact, there is every reason to
believe that he is in the prime of life.
"Miranda is very young-in fact, the
text explicitly states that she is fifteen.
If Prospero became a father at 25, he is
only forty at the time of the play's ac-
tion. In addition, there is plenty of
evidence to suggest that Prospero is
physically very activeand robust-
making him old distances him."
Judging from such remarks as those
above, it is obvious that the Theatre
Department, and Pennell himself, see
his role here at the University as
something even more significant,
ultimately, than that of Prospero in a
production of The Tempest-as that, in
fact, of an actor, who can offer an ac-
tor's unique insight into his own
profession, for the benefit of those who
would be actors.


...educating actors

(Continued from Page 7)

visits Ann

ideal epigraph to a fine concert. If the
Los Angeles Philharmonic and Carlo
Maria Giulini are in their usual fine
form this Tuesday, their performance
should be of interest to everyone.

.r ovement reviews and expands upon
musical ideas presented earlier in the
wprk until the coda reiterates the prin-
cipal theme and a portion of the in-
.The second movement Scherzo
opens with its theme played pizzicato
by the strings. After an elaborate
development, the tri takes over and
the strings get to show their prowess,
later joined by the oboes. The scherzo
* returns "a tempo" to vigorously close
the movement.
The Adagio finale is not only the
heart of the symphony but it has often
bpen interpreted as the musical por-
trayal of Bruckner's own finish. Its first
theme appears in the violins and though
unmistakably Brucknerian, it clearly
shows the influence of Wagner and
Liszt. After the second theme is presen-
tod, it is intertwined and developed

along with the first, building finally to a
loud repetition of the first theme before
the music reaches a peaceful con-
This sublime music should be the

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