We’ll learn February 26th, 2017, who gets this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor, and, of course, who gets one for lots of things. But, acting is what I’m discussing here.
What does it take to be a good actor?
I am no expert on the subject, but I have done some amateur acting. My first role was Santa Claus in a play I wrote in 1942 in the 7th grade at Eleventh Street School in downtown Columbus. We performed it for the 6th and 7th grades. You can read about it and a lot more in my memoir The Newsman: a Memoir. I also did a part in a play in 1943 at Columbus Junior High School, then one at Teen Tavern in Columbus when I was a teenager. I played Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew for Columbus Little Theater, which was morphed into the Springer Opera House after that, and I acted in a number of plays for the Springer and for Theater Atlanta in the late fifties and sixties. Theater Atlanta exited the stage before the Alliance Theater came into being.
Considering all that, maybe I can say what it takes to a be good actor with a thimble of expertise. First of all, learn your lines. The drama professor at Agnes Scott said she was so happy that I would act in some of the school plays because she knew I would learn my lines. Just that accounted for a lot she said. She said nothing about the quality of my acting that I can remember. Some of the male teachers at Agnes Scott, a women’s college, would help her from time to time, but she had to go outside the school had to ask male amateur actors to participate in school plays. I think I did minor parts in two plays for her.
Second suggestion: concentrate. The Springer’s first director Charles Jones emphasized that a lot. He said it’s really important in everything you do. I agree.
Third suggestion: learn how to ad- lib when other people forget their lines and you have to reply to the lines they made up. Often when the other actor forgets his lines, the audience thinks you are the one who forgot his lines because there is a pause while you are waiting for your cue which is never delivered. That happened to me more than once. Once when that happened, Charles complimented me on my improvising a line when the lead forgot his and ad-libbed something that didn’t make much sense. He said, “Thanks for bringing him back into the play.”
O.K., now here’s what some experts reportedly said about acting.
“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much. ” — John Wayne
“Never get caught acting.” – Lillian Gish
“Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes a creation.” – Bette Davis
“With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just hat you ust not acting. It’s lying.” – Johnny Depp
“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature.” – WIlliam Shakespeare, Hamlet
And Orson Welles said, “The essential is to excite the spectators. If that means playing Hamlet on a trapeze or in an aquarium, you do it.”
Now, if we really want to get serious about this we could discuss the different schools of acting, things like method acting, naturalism, non-naturalism., realism, and romanticism. I don’t want to get that serious.
Not born yet?
Most people weren’t.
But a few of us were. I was 11 years old on that “Day of Infamy” That’s what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the day that took America into World War II.
As was said on CBS Sunday Morning, one of the best programs on TV in my view, that attack on December 7th, 1941 changed the United States from an isolationist nation to a global superpower.
It’s an interesting phenomenon that many people can remember exactly where they were when cataclysmic historical events happen. Here’s some of what I wrote about the Pearl Harbor attack in my memoir The Newsman:
On December 7th. 1941, my father was in his usual Sunday afternoon state, asleep in his easy chair. After lunch, he would turn on the radio and listen to the live CBS broadcast of the New York Philharmonic. Actually, he didn’t listen consciously to most of it, because within minutes of turning on the radio, he would fall asleep and sleep through the entire concert. However, I learned that he was not as asleep as I thought he was. One Sunday, I decided since he wasn’t listening to the symphony, I would tune to something that would appeal more to eleven-year-old me. As my hand reached for the dial, he said, without even opening his eyes, “Don’t touch that dial.” You better believe I did not touch that dial. He never fussed at me at all. If I did something that displeased him, he would, without uttering a word, engage in corporal punishment.
On December 7th it wasn’t I who roused him from his napping; it was interruption of the program by CBS announcer John Daley, who told the nationwide symphony orchestra audience that Japanese planes had attacked Pear Harbor. Everyone, including young me, knew that meant we would be going to war.
When I went out to play on that sunny December 7th afternoon after the news bulletin about Pearl Harbor broke, I remember telling my buddy Carlton Bussey who lived a few doors down from us, “This means war. A lot of people are going to be killed.” He solemnly agreed. There was no whooping and hollering and rebel-yelling that we had seen in Gone with the Wind when someone came running into the plantation house with the news that Fort Sumter had been bombarded by Rebel artillery.
This is an updated version of a previous blog post.
It it has been played in Columbus more times than anywhere else, 38 games, according to Wikipedia. It was played in Columbus from 1920 to 1958, with the only break being when it was played in Athens in 1929. Memorial Stadium (now A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium), I am told, was larger than the stadiums at Georgia and Auburn in 1920.
Not only was the game the largest sports event in Cweolumbus, it was also arguably the biggest social even of the year. Parties were held all over town. Men wore business suits and women their Sunday best when going to the game.
When I was a boy, no one I knew went to parties or the game because we were in the depths of the Great Depression. My dad would drive the family by the stadium so we could see the well-dressed crowds going into the game, then we would…
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To me, the litmus test for a symphony orchestra is how well it masters the classical music master Beethoven. Saturday night the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, in my view, definitely mastered the master.
It didn’t hurt that it had a world-class concert pianist to dazzle us. Swiss-born American pianist Gilles Vonsattel’s rendition of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 was…well… breathtaking. I didn’t know anyone could move their fingers that fast. Judging from the standing ovation he got, I would say that the audience was transported. I know I was .
Once, when rehearsing the Bob Barr Community Band, retired legendary public school music educator George Corridino, not pleased with the way the band was playing the Sousa classic Stars and Stripes Forever, told the band that it simply could not get away with not playing that song well. “Everybody in the world knows that song! They’ll know you’re not playing it right.” When it comes to Beethoven, it’s probably Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. That’s the one that its first four notes have the same rhythm as the Morse code’s “V.” The British used it to stand for “victory” during World War II. I remember that. I was 14 when World War II ended. To put it mildly, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra nailed it.
It was really good to hear CSO Executive Director Cameron Bean announce before the concert that there were 200 middle school students in the balcony. Leter, he told me a sponsor made that possible. It’s really important to expose young people to the sound of a live full symphony orchestra. I was 15 when I first heard one. The Three Arts League brought the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra to Columbus. A wealthy Columbus lady bought tickets for all members of the Jordan and Columbus High bands. We sat on the first and second rows. I have loved live symphonic music from that moment on.
Live and learn takes on special meaning when it comes to the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning in Columbus, Georgia.
Learning with a lot of friends is quality living. And that’s what happens with about 200 seniors who attend CALL classes, trips, Pinocle and board games, and socials at the Columbus State University’s Turner Center for Continuing Education.
Everyone, who pays registration fees, is eligible to attend. Mostly retired folks join. There are lots of retired professionals, including educators, health care folks, a lawyer, a broadcast journalist (guess who), and others including a former Jeopardy champion and a Radio City Music Hall Rockette — really!
So, if you want to learn more about thngs like Inventions that Changed the World, Understanding Great Art, Line Dancing, History’s Great Military Blunders, CSU Theater, and more go to the front desk at Turner Continuing Ed and sign up. $145 pays for annual membership for three quarters, or $65 for one. Believe me it’s a big time bargain.
Classes start September 26.
Symphonic music is highbrow, stuff for the snooty social elite, some think. For an example of that not being the case, look no further than movie music. D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent blockbuster Birth of a Nation featured a symphonic score played by a live orchestra. Like many film score composers, Joseph Breil adapted some classical music for the film, using, for instance, passages from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.
For a modern example, composer, conductor, and pianist John Williams wrote symphonic scores for Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and three Harry Potter films.
It’s impressive on the big sound systems in movie theaters. But, to me, better when played by a live orchestra. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra demonstrated that last year with its highly successful John Williams concert. The orchestra is going to give us more memorable movie music this year. CSO at the Oscars features such blockbuster scores as James Bond, Out of Africa, Lawrence of Arabia, and many more including a repeat of the John Williams’ Star Wars composition.
The other pops concert this season will be American Icons: Words of our Nation. Musical tributes will be paid to the flag, jazz, bluegrass, baseball, cowboys, and the Grand Canyon and, iconic Americans like Martin Luther King, Jr, John Wayne, Lincoln, and Elvis, featuring the music of Aaron Copland, John Williams, Ferde Grofe, and others.
The season will feature great classics also. The opener on September 17th is Beethoven’s Fifth, which also features his Piano Concerto no. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37, and Consecration of the House Overture, Op. 67.
There will also be concerts featuring the music of Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Strauss, and Prokofiev and others.
So, join me at the River Center for a super CSO season.
For more info go to www.csoga.org.
CARING FOR YOU, CARING FOR ME TRAINING SESSIONS AT UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST FELLOWSHIP OF COLUMBUS, GA
Coping with being a longterm caregiver can be a costly affair, physically and emotionally. Just ask anyone who has ever done it.
However, there are ways to make it less costly, and that’s what the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving is all about.
Gayle Alston, MS, Director the RCI Training Center of Excellence, explained the program recently at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.
There are a number of ways to do that. Probably topping the list is to remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of someone else.
Taking care of yourself includes making sure you have some time for yourself. To get that time you’re going to need help from others. If a friend offers to come over and sit a while so you can get away from the house for a while, don’t be shy about accepting that offer. If they are true friends they will mean it when they say it.
If you want to learn more about this you can attend Caring for You, Caring for Me training sessions offered in October at the UU Fellowship of Columbus. It will be led by Maureen and Jim Humphies who recently participated in a Trainer workshop at the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving. Maureen has been involved with the RCI since 1990.
If you would like more information you can call the Humphries at (706) 505-8223, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
What will the most memorable story to come out of the Rio Olympics?
Swimming superstar Michael Phelps, the all-time medal winning Olympics champion, ending his Olympics career with even more gold medals?
The gold medal winning athletes who tear up when their national anthems are played?
The sportsmanship displayed when winners and losers hug each other after a competition?
Or, some allegedly miscreant drunken American swimmers who are accused of causing a ruckus at a Rio gas station and charged with making up a story about being robbed at gunpoint?
Unfortunately, it appears it will be the latter, but maybe not. As many reporters have said a lot at the end of a story, only time will tell. How’s that for hedging?
Maybe those two films signal that the summer drought of quality photoplays has ended. They are, in my view, both worth our time in a movie house.
“Florence” is for grown-ups and “Pete” is for everyone. I’ve already reviewed “Florence” glowingly, so this is about “Pete.”
Not only is the computer generated lovable dragon named Elliot stunningly realistic in this live-action computer animated film , there is an engaging story. It’s multi-level, both kids and adults can enjoy it. We certainly did. It should end up making a lot of money and have a long movie life. It’s Disney at it’s best.