Friday, December 16, 2005



BOBBY LEWIS, ANNE BANCROFT

AND OTHER STUFF


(This was posted on my old blog and at that time I was VERY new to blogging and so it was all text, and it had no pictures and, was read by maybe 3 people...I have since edited it, added photo's and am now re-publishing it...so, here it is, and for those few who might have read it before, do give it another read...the pictures add so much to the whole thing)

This is a pretty long post so maybe you should go to the bathroom, now! Many years ago, Bobby Lewis, who was one of the greatest acting teachers and theatre Directors ever, began teaching a sort of Master Class for actors, here in Los Angeles. One could audit the class, and I really wanted to experience the genius of Mr. Lewis, not only because I was an actress, but more because I am a writer and an occasional Director, too. I had gone to Drama School in New York, and then studied further with a wonderful teacher named Mary Welch, a superb actress and a member of the Actors Studio.

So when this opportunity arose regarding the possible auditing of Bobby's class, I jumped at the chance. He proceeded to interview eveyone who was a prospective member of the class, weather auditing or actively particiating, so he could get the feel of the seriousness of your involvenent. After talking with me, he told me I was accepted.

Bobby had known Betty Garrett from her early New York-Broadway days, and through the connection to her, he chose to rent Theatre West on the mornings that he was going to hold his many acting classes.
(Theatre West had begun, basically, as an Actors Workshop, though it grew to encompass Writer’s, Directors and Designers as time went on, and Betty G. had been one of the founding members, along with about 12 or 13 other professional actors. I came into the group about the 8th month of its existence….and, have remained a member ever since, as has Betty G.)….I have done just about everything one can do in the theatre, Act, Compose, Direct, Produce, Sing, Stagemanager, Write, and anything else I may have forgotten…



Theatre West is one of the oldest Producing Actors Workshops in L.A., and over the years has had some very illustrious people as members---quite a number of these people joined TW at the very beginning of their careers, like Richard Dreyfuss. Rick worked his tail of at TW and there was no doubt in anyone's mind that this young man had 'it', whatever 'it' is...HE had it, but good.
Richard has always said that those years at Theatre West were probably the most exciting years of his professional life in the theatre. He remained a member until only a few years ago when he moved his residence to England. Many many of the original people kept their memberships up even after great success came there way, not just out of sentimental reasons, but as Carroll O’Connor said in “The History Of Theatre West-Part 1” (a Video that I created back in 1982 to commemorate the Twentieth Anniversary of Theatre West)…..but for "...professional reasons, as well,….you never know when I might want to come back and do a play….", said Carroll. He spoke of the community of theatre people and said that we spoke a different language than other people and said that he found it comforting and stimulating to "be with your own kind"…his words, exactly. I do agree that theatre people, or show people, in general, do seem like a different breed….and there is definitely a comfort in the short hand that comes with the shared experience that ‘civilians’ cannot understand, not having had those experiences or even, I'm sorry to say, sometimes not understanding why anyone would go through those experiences, in the first place....


Getting back to Bobby Lewis….because of Theatre West's history, it was the perfect theatre for him to be holding his extraordinary classes. This man was an icon in the theatre community….everyone wanted to study with him, young beginning actors and seasoned pro's. So, his ‘Master Class’ was for working actors of a certain reputation and stature, who’s experience and many years of working in the theatre, films and television, uniquely qualified them for a ‘master class’ as apposed to his 'beginning actors' class. All of the people in this ‘master class’ felt the need to, once again, hone their skills with a great teacher and director such as Bobby.…and Bobby had a particular way of approaching a play that had come from years of experience, starting with the famed Group Theatre, and the directing of many many Broadway plays.
He was one of the founding members of the Actors Studio, and like Stella Adler, another great great acting teacher, split from the Studio and began teaching his own ‘Method’. Three wonderfully interesting books that many consider the bibles of acting, "Method Or Madness?"; “Advice To The Players” and "Slings And Arrows: Theatre In My Life" (his Autobigraphy) were written by Bobby and are treasured by anyone who knew him or worked with him and by all those who had an awareness of the stature of this complete theatre professional. He was treasured also by the younger members of the profession, because of the esteem in which he was held by his peers and by the theatre community, in general. He was a giant of a man, and it was indeed an awesome privilege to be allowed to audit his classes. Over a period of two years, I audited 2 different classes; One running for 9 weeks for two mornings each week, and the other one running for almost 3 months, once a week on Saturdays. Incredibly talented actors worked on scenes chosen specifically by Bobby for each person and including partnering each person with an appropriate partner in these scenes from plays that were classics….weather Shakespeare, or Ibsen or Tennessee Williams, or Arthur Miller or Pinter….Often these actors worked on material that they were never ever hired to do, though they were extremely qualified and capable of doing these plays to stunningly exciting results---the material Bobby chose for each person was chosen to stretch their view of themselves as well as stretching their skills which were rarely if ever used 'for hire'--- most all actors being pretty much typecast by the so called powers that be.....Betty G. was in her early sixties at the time, and she had had and was continuing to have, a very successful career in the theatre, films and television
---and I tell you, I saw her do work in that class of Bobby’s that was extraordinary beyond words, and unbelievably thrilling, too. One of the scenes that Betty did was from Robinson Jeffers’ ”Medea”. And, for those unfamiliar with this frightening woman--she kills her two children, among other atrocities…though that alone would qualify her as a Major Monster, for sure! As an actress, we got to see Betty reach inside herself and touch things that none of us had ever seen her do before, nor thought her capable of doing if we were to be honest, including Bobby!
Well, were we ever wrong about that, and what a thrill it was to be that wrong!


The wonderfully talented actor Karl Malden, who many people only remember from those American Express commercials or “The Streets Of San Francisco” TV show--forgetting that he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in “Streetcar Named Desire” having been in the Original Broadway cast of that play, and was later nominated in the same category again, for “On The Waterfront”---played, Medea’s husband Jason, in that same scene from “Medea”, and he too, was extraordinary! These are not easy roles to do; the language of the play alone was difficult and it goes without saying that the very terrifying subject matter was deeply challenging, to put it mildly. But you see, that’s what made this class so bloody exciting!

In that first 9 week session, Anne Bancroft was in the class. And I remember the first day she got up, Bobby asked her why she was there….and she said, (and I am paraphrasing slightly, here...), “Oh Bobby, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just feel lost and I’m not sure I can act anymore…..I haven’t worked in such a long time…so I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore!” She was very serious. I remember sitting there and thinking …'Lord, if this truly great great actress can feel this way, than it’s no wonder we all feel so damned insecure….!'. She was very humble and very anxious to get to work on something, and couldn’t wait for Bobby to assign a scene and a partner for her.

As it turned out, Anne Bancroft was unable to complete the classes because she got a movie that took her on location and whatever those feelings were for her of not being sure she could act anymore, completely disappeared, at least it did for us in the class; I have no idea if they disappeared for her. I hope so because the body of work that she created after that time continued to be top notch and unique in every way,
(Rent: “Garbo Talks”---she is wonderful in that, so touching, and vulnerable---she has a monologue that is a film-treasure---it is one of those rare brilliant pieces of acting that is memorable in every way.)


Art—The Arts—Books, Music, Paintings, Acting, Films, Theatre, Photography, etc. truly can illuminate our lives and transform our lives---it can move us, it can change how we feel about something---how we think about something—touch us in ways that stay with us for all of our lives in the deepest most effecting manner---it can give us hope and it can dash our hopes, too by the truthful illumination of life as it was, is, and/or may be again. This is an amazing thing to me. And I hope that I will always approach everything I am exposed to in the creative world like a child seeing something for the first time. To be excited, stimulated, and thrilled by an artistic experience can be truly life-transforming.

As an artist myself I have had some small measure of success…(that was never why I did any if the things I did, but a bit of success has come my way, I’m happy to say.) No, I am not a household name and never have been, and further, I have never been able to actually “earn a living” with anything that I have created----oh yes, I’ve been paid for my work, weather it was my paintings, photography, plays, song I've written, acting, etc…..but “earn a living”? No.
But the need to create; the need to express oneself in some form of artistic communication has been a part of my life since I was a child. Along the way, I know I have touched people because they took the time to communicate that to me, I’m grateful to say; or, they put their money where their mouth is, so to speak…and, in the case of my art work, bought a painting or two, even when they couldn’t afford it and had to pay it off—month after month—for years, sometimes, (that’s needing something as desperately as needing breath for life---I know, cause I’ve done it myself---buying other people’s paintings)….Why am I even talking about this? Well, I think I’m evaluating my life with this blog, in some strange way, and at this point in my life I'm attempting to see if in truth, my life has any meaning; I mean that ‘means’ something to me. I don’t have any answers and quite frankly, I’m not even sure I have the correct or appropriate questions…(there may be 10 questions or 100 questions or even more? I don’t know yet.) But I do know that in going over just a tiny bit of my history here, on this blog— that that in itself has made me value it more, at this point in time.….


So far, this has been a very good life for me---the creative life, I mean. There may be a lot of things that I regret about my life, but the years and years and years that I have spent ‘creating’---- I don’t regret one millisecond of that time. In retrospect nothing I have ever done as an expression of my creativity do I regret----
even playing the bongo drums on a very bad album a singing-friend recorded umpteen years ago, I do not regret---And I approached that non-paying job with all the professionalism and care that I have always given to every creative project I have ever been a part of, paying and non-paying….it's just the way it is for me...and as far as ...what has this all been about?'....Well, hopefully more will be revealed to me, as they say, as I go along here, in these ruminations and revisitings….







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51 Comments:
had this to say:

It's ultimately about the art, and the journey we take to create it. My thing is writing, not theatre, but much of what you write here resonates deeply with me, for those who create truly do have a unique shorthand that those who do not simply don't get.

Nicely put, as always. I love looking through your window on the world.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 5:54:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

As always, I enjoyed reading a little peak at your life. It'd be naive of me to try to interpret and help 'clarify.' It's a truth you'll find on your own in your own way. I will say that so many people in this world fail to approach every project with the same degree of professionalism and respect. It takes a pretty fabulous person to recognize success is more inner than wallet driven.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 6:48:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

You named several of my favorites. Richard Dreyfuss In the Goodby Girl and Mr. Holland's Opus are two of my very favorite movies....

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 7:33:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wow, what an interesting glimpse into your life! Here via Michele today.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 7:35:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

excellent post, naomi! i, too, have a deep appreciation of art and how it enriches lives. i have surrounded myself with people, who in one way or another, are artistic in their own way. i have friends who are actors, an editor-in-chief of a pop magazine, writers, painters, even bankers who "create" beautiful stuff. it most definitely adds a depth and dimension to one's character to have some outlet for all that creativity. :)

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 7:49:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

i think everyone has a need to express themselves in some way or another. for me, and my husband, it is music. so much emotion comes out in creative expression. thanks for the glimpse into your life!

here via michele

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 7:50:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Thank goodness for Ms. Michele! Once again, she has lead me to another blogger who I will enjoy coming back to read more of! This was a great post.As Carmi said before me, It's ultimately about the art. My art is music, but I get to experience the theater whenever I perform! You have had a very interesting life, and I can't wait to read more. I'll be back soon.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 8:24:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

"And I hope that I will always approach everything I am exposed to in the creative world like a child seeing something for the first time. To be excited, stimulated, and thrilled by an artistic experience can be truly life-transforming."

This is a very telling and important paragraph, Naomi. We should always keep that excitement, as it is what helps to keep us alive and young and potent in the world!

P.S. Yes, I will be blogging for the next 9 days - but I always like to start giving "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Hanukkah" wishes, just in case I miss someone!

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 8:58:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I was intrigued by this post (being a fan of 'Inside the Actor's Studio' with James Lipton), so googled your name (which I have worked out [big smile]).

57,000 entries! Lots of stuff on Theatre West, Broadway and your photography! :-)

And, sweetheart - did you know you had an entry on www.imdb.com?

I'm proud to know you :-)

cq

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 9:02:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Here via Michele's....I gotta go back and reread that, cause it was just...wow.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 9:55:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I love it when you are introspective.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 10:09:00 PM PST 

Blogger LJ
had this to say:

Wow, you weren't kidding...long post indeed!

Dropping by cuz Michelle sez hi!

BTW, I can't stand Dreyfuss.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 11:42:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

that was three posts at least!! bless you on this cold friday night - be warm, be well.

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 11:53:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hi my dear oldoldlady - you're probably tucked up in your Hollywood bed right now, but I wanted to say thank you, my darling, for that wonderful comment on my blog. Such a warming thing to read on such a rotten day :-)

cq

Friday, December 16, 2005 at 11:58:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wow, what an amazing post. I don't have anything insightful to say, but I loved reading it. :)

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 1:09:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

hello sent by michele today but i would have visited any how!

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 1:41:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

You are so lucky to have been able to do what you did with your life. To follow the path that pulled you. I think you know I get quite envious when reading your posts. Had I been born to different parents, I proably would have been less intimidated to go into the direction I feel I should have moved. However, my life would have been totally different and I would have missed out on the wonderful things I do have. I suppose reading about your interesting life is giving me those things that I missed, but would have loved. Thanks.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 4:50:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Excellently written! I found it all so interesting.

Michele sent me here.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 5:20:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I think I jumped in behind you on the M&G, so I wanted to stop in and say hi. That story was great. I haven't heard about many of those actors in a long time. What a fascinating experience for you!

Michele sent me....

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 5:32:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a beautifully written post. My career is/was not in the Arts, but it's a part of me that I hang on to in any way possible - even if it's just singing at church. You are so blessed to have been able to live your dream even if it didn't pay the bills and we are blessed to be able to read your wonderful posts.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 7:28:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Sometimes, when you read other people's blogs, it's like you get to live vicariously through them for a few moments in time.
Reading about all those Hollywood icons, and the creativeness in your life is so exciting!
I'm glad that you have a found a new way to express your imagination in your blog...
and I'll be back, again and again.
Here via Michele's today

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 8:22:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Thank you Naomi for sharing those stories. It is very interesting to read about your life and all the exciting things you have done and the people that you have known and know!

I'm glad I took your advice and went to the bathroom first, because I sure didn't want to have to stop reading once I started! Great, great post Naomi!

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 11:47:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Michele sent me to see you, Old Old Lady of the Hills.

I would think that in a Master Class like that, egos would get out of hand. Is that not true, or was Bobby Lewis just very good at handling people in situations like that?

I read Medea in grad school. I wasn't in Drama but rather in philosophy and we read a number of works by Sophocles and this one by Euripedes. It's amazing how relevant these plays still are despite nearly 3,000 years going by since they were written.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 12:07:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Everyone has a need deep within to create something. For some it's a family, or a beautiful yard. The fact that you have been able to express yourself creativity throughout your life with acting, painting, writing, etc., etc. is truly a gift. I very much injoyed this post.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 12:32:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What an interesting post. How wonderful to have been a part of that acting class and to see some of those wonderful actors taking part in it.
Expression in many forms has brought you fulfillment and joy.
Now, blogging has become another way for you to express yourself. Isn't it grand?!
I will post a gift for you. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 1:35:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Here we are again, my friend - blog-hopping courtesy of Michele :-)

and guess who sent me!?!

cq

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 2:52:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I wish my my mother could read your blog. She would so like it. She was in the 'industry' for a bazillion years as a costumer and she knew so many of the actors that you write about. It brings back lots of memories for me.

Thanks! M sent me.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 3:05:00 PM PST 

Blogger rob
had this to say:

"...there is definitely a comfort in the short hand that comes with the shared experience that ‘civilians’ cannot understand..."

Yeah. Oh gog yeah.

I don't think I have 1 friend who isn't involved in the theater some how.

Great stuff. Thank you.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 3:15:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Michele sent me!

I love Carrol O'connor and Anne Bancroft's work. My dad IS Archie Bunker. I wonder if O'Connor actually DID go back and do some plays?

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 3:27:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Thanks for the bathroom warning. I though your were exaggerating but it was a long post. That being said it was fascinating. I always love to have a little glimpse into your world. What an awesome life you have led.

Here from Michele's...

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 4:49:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

wonderful work!
Andrew

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 7:49:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I will have a gift posted for YOU in tomorrow's post.
Hope you like it!

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 9:19:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hello Michele sent me. What a great post.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 9:35:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

wonderful post! I'm here via Michele.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 9:40:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wow, that was a post and a half:-) But fascinating as always!

Here from Micheles today

Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 11:43:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

so here i am, visitng from micheles. yeah i KNOW at michele's it SAYS you are being visited by faira, but honestly, i just typed in my moms info and coem a visiting, pretending, badly, to be her. i know she actually enjoys visiting your site, because michele never sends her, she comes on her own, adn then she tells me on the phone about how you have such an intersting life, and you write it in such a great way. i just thought it might be fun for my mom to get visitors from michele. i know i enjoy it. so thats why it says faira at michele's, even though its me.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 12:36:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

here again from michele land
and tired sleep soon

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 2:06:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

back from Micheles:-)

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 2:32:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Deja vu time!

Michele sent me here again.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 3:47:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hi, OOL - forgot to say that when I googled you, I peeked at your photography....

AWESOME, babes :-)

cq
MSM - sort of :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 4:18:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Garbo talks. I'll keep it in mind. Michele sent me.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 7:50:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

OOL, just picked up your comment.
I have the website I noticed on my favourites now.

If you email me at craziequeen@hotmail.com I'll send you the link...

or I'll put the link here, but it has your name on it.

cq

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 9:03:00 AM PST 

Anonymous mar
had this to say:

shortly stopping to say hi again!!and thanks for visiting while I was away. I posted a comment here yesterday before leaving but apparently my sis'pc is not working right...

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 11:39:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Glad you don't regret the bongos. One should never regret percussion. I think everyone to a degree who is blogging is sifting for the gold of their life. Hope you're satisfied with all the nuggets you've found.

Back via Michele, round two.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 11:58:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

twice in one day! This time Ms. Michele sent me. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 1:05:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I love that photo of Ann Bancroft. Reminds me of the wedding pics of her and Mel Brooks they showed in Keeping the Faith. What a gorgeous wedding that must have been.

Michele...

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 1:11:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wow, what a life....you should write a book. Loved your pictures and was really moved by the Aides Quilts.

Michele sent me but I'll be back.

Lazy Daisy

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 3:55:00 PM PST 

Blogger Joe
had this to say:

Very interesting look into your world!

Here via Michele.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 4:05:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

first time visitor. great post, kind of like Inside The Actors Studio with Lipton. I have filmed as an extra in a couple of movies so I enjoyed the piece.

Monday, December 19, 2005 at 5:22:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What an interesting, wonderful, fulfilling life! And no regrets...that's the most inmportant part! I really enjoyed reading this post. I'm a little behind on my reading, but I'm trying to catch up. ;)

Monday, December 19, 2005 at 12:52:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

50 comments before me, dang! you are getting to popular over here!!

michele sent me back, i came on my own earlier.

Friday, December 23, 2005 at 11:15:00 PM PST 

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Name: OldOldLady Of The Hills
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