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Lacktalk A HUMANIST VIEW OF THEATRE Zelda Fichandler This article provided the keynote address for the League of Professional Theatre Training Programs' 1983 Design Portfolio Review, held in March at The Juilliard School. For the event, outstanding graduating students in set, costume, and lighting design, from schools throughout the U.S., had their design portfolios reviewed by professionals in the field. This is the only such program to help students make the transition from school to the professional world of theatre. I speak to you in short forms of long thoughts, thoughts that cast long shadows, for there is much that troubles me about the way we train the young people who move into our theatre institutions and about these institutions themselves and about the way we look at the art of theatre in general. These are thoughts-in-process. I share them with you knowing that they are not complete. I speak first about myself, feeling in that way I can speak for all of us. I take my sense of personal reality in this moment from these pages that I hold in my hand, that it is 9 o'clock on a Saturday morning, that I am in the act of trying to make you particular people see what I see. Also from the immediate cultural environment and from the myriad impingements that have formed me since I was born, and, perhaps even before that, when I was still in my mother's womb. The job I have, the kind of house I live in, the cups, dishes, art objects, plumbing, cooking appliances, heating system of that house; the permissions and restrictions that 1983 American society lay out for me as a white bourgeois woman; the purchasing power of the dollar; the sounds that contemporary music makes; the life of the streets; the events in Lebnanon; that Barney Clark's body died but his artificial heart pumped on; who will be our next President; the shorter skirt and padded shoulders of the spring fashions all give me my sense of who I am. 88 And my past. This moment has been made for me also by the past I have accumulated. The historic past and its memories of change: America's entry into World War 1I, Stalingrad, Roosevelt's voice "There is nothing to fear but fear itself," the day of the Mushroom Cloud, the Korean War, the war in Vietnam, a succession of presidential administrations, from the New Deal to today, Dickensian America; the polio and measles vaccination program for children is cut back to provide more money for arms. The social and cultural past and its memories of change: sexism and the fight against it; racial discrimination and the fight against it; the sexual revolution and its consequences ; patterns of divorce and marriage; fashions in child-rearing from the rigid feeding schedule to the demand schedule to something in between ; fashions in fashions-the New Look of the late '40s, the mini-skirt of the late '60s, to the any-length skirt of now; the 1950s house in the suburbs with the station wagon and an average of 3. something children, to the return to the city and today's average of 1.7 children, and 25 percent of all households with single-person occupancy. I have seen glass milk bottles give way to plastic, the Russell Wright china I got when I was married become collector's items, Herbert Hoover's promise of "a car in every garage" turn into 2-car families as part of America's revolution of rising expectations , and TV sets become more prevalent than indoor plumbing. I bedded down dozens of young people during the marches in Washington of the '60s and saw two sons through the hippie-drug culture. And all this has affected me, given me what is called my "identity." As has the Big Band Sound, giving way to progressive jazz, giving way to rock, soft and hard, folk, country and western, reggae, the Big Band Sound again; abstract expressionism, pop art, action painting, the return of figurative painting, the rediscovery of Andrew Wyeth; and we must not leave out our own small world-the commercial theatre...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 88-99
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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