Alice Playten: A Clear Intention




Tenn in Conversation
New Orleans
1982

There must always be with us a terminal quality to our work, which is not to say that it should be grim or utterly serious. When I say terminal, I am talking about what you called 'working with all the burners on,' and yet with focus and intelligence and a clear intention. This is what Alice Playten has; this is what she has revealed to me. An urgency of communication that is never desperate, always in a direct line to expression, and always in service to her character. She has parts that required only adverbs and primary colors, and she has instead given them reality and depth and meaning. I am not a fan of the musical, in general, and I would want her to be in a play of mine. What I'm trying to say is that I want to work with her, but not to the point of writing the book of a musical. I think she can provide an enormous amount of talent and intelligence and sensitivity to a part, while at the same time seeing all the silly humanity in a woman. She would make "Slapstick Tragedy" work; she would help us to understand, in an entirely different way, what made Alma or Stella or Laura operate. When she ages, she could help us to understand the vaudevillian nature of the relationship between Amanda and Tom. I think she's marvelous.

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