Theatre Design & Technology - Oct 1971 - 17
genius because he chose a dead level spot:
the most you could see were 50 people at
anyone time. If anything happened, if a
policeman jostled someone, you could just
vaguely hear it off in the distance. You
couldn't see it. It seemed a nice settin9,
the event appearing no bigger nor more
significant than any casual cocktail party.
In this sense, Fifth Avenue succeeds because it has some good hills. If you stand
on the top of one and look down you can
see all the activity between you and the
next hill, which can be very dramatic in a
Mr. Pertz: At Lehman College in the Bronx
we are working on a space of similar size
to the Washington oval, and similarly dead
flat. Since the buildings around it are buildings that are primarily for the students,
(cafeteria, administration building, and library), we have scooped out the center of
the campus; reducing its level by 20 feet
or more. This creates a series of stages.
We try to, but, we don't get all the commissions in New York.
Comment: I want to ask a question. You
touched on the paseo. It seems to me one
of its basic purposes is mating. Those that I
saw took place around a bandstand and even
though there may not have been a band, the
function was there. You could tell who had
the upper hand by the direction the couple
Miss Bacon: Isn't there always a plaza
around which the walk takes place?
Mr. Pertz: It takes place ina street or in a
plaza, but it doesn't make much difference
because there is contact.
Comment: The same ritual occurs within
theatres in intermissions in German opera
houses and recital halls where, around the
horseshoe and the lobby, there is a continuous passing. I assume not for mating.
Mr. Tichy: I have only recently begu n working on a project with Klaus Pinter and I
think there are some definite principles in
his approach to a given problem. They have
something to do, first of all, with assumptions about what he wants human beings to
do; about what human beings are all about.
The first assumption that he makes is
that they are not passive, they have a need
to get involved, that they are curious, social
I think Pinter's mattress is a good example. One must interact with the mattress.
In doing so the individual is also in the
process of interacting with people. For if he
jumps on one end of the mattress and
someone on the other end bounds up in
the air, interaction is involved.
Mr. Toan: I think that architects are taking
a much greater interest in the whole behavioral nature of man and his relationship to
his environment. The needs of man are to
be included in the activities of life and to
control them to some degree, and out of
THEATER DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
that to gai n response from his fellow man.
If we accept these criteria, it is not easy
for a physical space to produce this.
fare business, we wanted to make some
statements about that. There were no
scripts, of course.
The most successful festivals that we
have today, of course, are the Rock festivals involving 200,000, 300,000 people.
The hunger for this kind of experience is
tremendous. The idea of getting 500,000
people onto the Isle of Wight to hear some
rock music sin~er is rather a testament to
these, but they are highly contrived events
in the sense they have to be designed and
created, some with more success than
others. There haven't been too many Woodstocks.
So I gathered together six actors and in
about two months, we put together a production for the street.
Man today is highly inhibited by the professional nature of most performances and he
does not spontaneously run out and do
eventful things, except on a very small
Mrs. Cortesi: I hope to get Gordon Duffy,
if I can, back into the discussion. I would
also like to introduce Ernie McClintock, artistic director of the Afro-American Studio
for Acting and Speech. Mr. McClintock,
when you bring something into the street,
what do you get back?
Mr. McClintock: Well, actually last summer
 was the first time that the AfroAmerican Studio for Acting and Speech
went into the street. It was a different experience for us because we're accustomed to performing indoors at our studio.
The only experience I personally had had
worki ng on the street before was with the
New York Shakespeare Festival when I first
came to New York in 1965, in their mobile
theatre. Of course, that operation was much
larger and much more elaborate than anything that we could have conceived of doing
Our reason for going on the street was
that we wanted to reach an audi ence that
we were not getting into our theatre. We
thought that by going into the street we
would get to the kind of person we wanted.
The people we were getti ng in the theatre
were not really the people in whom we
were interested. We were not disinterested
in those who came into the theatre, but we
were more interested in those who did not.
In terms of material we were primarily
concerned with those things that we felt affect more closely the lives of those that we
wanted to reach. One was narcotics. We
were very concerned wi th addiction. We
wanted to see if we could make some
statement about addiction and if possible,
offer some kind of solution. If nothing else
we at least wanted to make people think
We were also concerned about birth control. Black people-we feel kind of funny
about birth control because in this day and
time we feel that we need all the troops
we can muster. Anyway, we wanted to make
some ki nd of statement about that, at least
I know I did. And welfare; this whole wel-
I guess I have a kind of director's outlook in theatre. I look and I think with the
eyes of a director. Somehow even before I
got out there I knew what I wanted to work
with in terms of the people. I knew I
wanted to work with six actors: three men
and three women.
Then I thought about the environment:
the physical places where we would be performing. I thought first about the Shakespeare Festival. Of course money immediately ruled that out. Then I began to think
about other environments and I came up
with a rigged platform; three levels with
each level being smaller than the one behind it and so on-the levels getting larger
as you go back. I thought that would create
a nice visual perspective for the audience
and I could stage it so that people could
playoff of the sides as well as in front
because I noticed that people like to get
around on the side of things as well as in
front. They like to see what is going on
behind, to see the things that we normally
hide in our busi ness.
I thought our design and our platform
worked pretty well.
I hope I am talking about what you
wanted me to talk about.
Mrs. Cortesi: That is what we really want
to hear about.
Mr. McClintock: We found that the unit
that we had built required a bit more manpower than we had anticipated to set up,
so we eventually had to take on two extra
people to help us. What we were doingwas
not very elaborate; it was just poor planning
on my part. Now I know that it takes perhaps five people to set up and run the
Ilike the unit that we used and I hope to
be able to use it again and again.
I thought what we did on our space was
effective enough, but it could have been
better. Our major problem was our sound
equipment. We didn't have enough experience, and we had a lot of difficulty. We real ized right away that before we went out
again on the street we would need more
practice operating sound equipment.
Cortesi: Did you have any hassi es
yetting the street closed] Was the city cooperative?
Mr. McClintock: Normally they were. Normally they got out there and did what they
were supposed to do. About 80 percent of
the time the street was closed off for us.
Sometimes it wasn't, but I don't believe too
much in rules and often I closed it off personally. I would take a car and park it
across the street and worry abou t it later.
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