Today’s 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln is being celebrated around the country (and with special fanfare in DC). My friend and former publicist, Stephen Rivers, just sent me an email telling me that playwright Tony Kushner, who is writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s film about Lincoln, says he thinks that John Ford’s “Young Mr. Lincoln” and my dad’s portrayal of Lincoln in that film, remains the best of all Lincoln films. Lincoln was dad’s hero, something he shares with Obama. How happy he would be about our new president…and not just because of their common admiration for honest Abe.
As usually happens during previews, we are cutting and trimming the play. Moises’ process for accomplishing this is unique in my experience and I’m not sure why because it makes total sense: He asks all of us actors to recommend our own cuts. Duh! Who better than the actor saying the lines to know what’s extraneous? As Moises just said to me when I told him I wanted to blog about this, “actors are the most underused artists in America.” I asked him if this was unique to this country and he said, “Yes, because there is such a division of labor here so a community of talent isn’t developed. Because writing is not seen as the domain of actors, their emotional intelligence remains untapped.” As I reread this paragraph, it occurs to me that some of you might think that actors are too egotistical to ever voluntarily cut their own lines. Wrong. After inhabiting a character for awhile (we’ve been with ours for a month now) we can sense better than almost anyone what’s extraneous. Someone suggested a one-line cut in a speech of Zach Grenier (Beethoven) and he resisted, not out of ego but because that line was, for him, a critical emotional bridge.
The cast spent an hour or more giving our suggested cuts and Moises marveled at what we proposed, “I would never have thought of these cuts.” After that, Moises, Samantha and I discussed our mother/daughter scenes which need clarification and did some improvisation. It was fruitful.
On top of all this I did a photo shoot this morning with the wonderful Brigitte Lacombe for New York Magazine. The interview for the NY Times Arts and Leisure is tomorrow morning and next Monday is the Today Show. Meredith Vieira is coming to the show tomorrow night as is my dear pal, Robin Morgan and the couple, David Hodges and Laurel Lyle who ran the children’s camp that Tom Hayden and I had in California for 15 years in the 1970s and 80s.
Unless something unusual happens, I will sign off for today.
See you next time.
Because of the ferociously high winds today in NY, 49th St has been closed all day. This morning I came in by way of the Walter Kerr Theatre and, I just heard, that’s how the audience will come in tonight. THE SHOW MUST GO ON!