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---- --8-- / AmencaLoYe a±F{rsts0Jht TF A LULLAUY JS A SONG THAT PUTS YOU to sleep, then there is no L such thing as a lullaby of Broadway. It was a small culture shock to arrive from the staid and stolid life of Britain and face New York's nervous energy. Right off the bat, it was clear that I would never think or behave like a tourist or permit myself to be treated as one. New York itself helps you do that: Even the unfamiliar in New York is instantly familiar, and not only because you've seen movies or read books. You make an immediate effort to understand the mentality of its inhabitants, something that can be done only by becoming a New Yorker yourself as quickly as possible. Even though there was not n1uch tin1e to acclimatize because rehearsals were to start in a couple of days, I managed to soak up as much local color and speech as possible . The agency had booked me into a hotel right in the center of Manhattan, at Fifty-eighth Street and Sixth Avenue. One could eat in any number of small restaurants in the area, walk everywhere, and make friends with New Yorkers who seemed slightly astonished that you might want to take the time to do it. I had to watch expenses, since my salary would not be paid for a week, so I ate breakfast in a coffee shop on the corner of Fifty-seventh Street, lunch at a deli on Broadway, and dinner at small Chinese or Italian places. What particularly pleased me was that you could buy tomorrow's newspaper on the previous evening; it sort of gave you the idea that you could somehow get a jump on time and know earlier than the rest of the world what tomorrow had in store. English and European visitors shared this feeling of prescience engendered by the early editions of Tiie New York Times. When my former roommate, Freddie Granville, came to visit son1e tin1e later, he went out on a Monday and n1arveled at being able to buy Tuesday's newspaper. He repeated the routine every single weeknight. On Saturday night he went out as usual and asked at the newsstand for Tiie New York Times. As the man handed him the Sunday Times, slightly built Freddie buckled a bit under its weight and said, "! just want one paper." When the vendor assured him that what he was holding was indeed only one paper, Freddie became worried about the state of the world. "What could have happened since yesterday>" he asked. The first rehearsal of Ton(~lzt in Samarkand should have been routine , as indeed it seemed to be for my American colleagues. You say hello to people you have met before, exchange pleasantries with the ones you are meeting for the first time, and settle down for a reading around the table. The routine itself was not much different from what I had been used to in England, except that I knew nobody at all and could not shake the feeling that I was being scrutinized by the rest of the cast. They were trying to determine what could possibly have been so special about me to have warranted bringing me all the way from England for a supporting role. Herman Shumlin, the director, was courteous in an Old World way, but he, too, was sizing me up. [ had been brought to America on his say-so, or rather that of his friend Eddie Cook, and he had to make sure that it had not been a mistake. I felt [ had to prove myself and do it quickly. Long before you vie for acceptance by an audience you have to gain the approval of your peers. Along with high-wire acts in a circus, theatre is among the most collaborative of art forms, where much rides on being able to rely upon the skill of others. For this, mutual trust is an essential. How to establish that trust quickly is a real trick. In most other areas of work, the collegial relationship is usually allowed to develop gradually while the measure of personalitie.s is taken and the do's and don'ts of the workplace become evident. The theatre, on the other hand, is too much of a pressure cooker to permit grace periods. Four measly weeks of rehearsal before the test of facing an audience do not give you much of a...


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