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  • 1 Easy (and Cheap!) Way to Spend Your Downtime

    I was a student in graduate school at the University of Illinois. It was the first year of its master’s program in acting and, consequently, they didn’t have a handle on who would teach what. They lassoed in a woman in her late 70s or early 80s to teach acting. 
    Mary Arbenz was an actor from a long-gone era. She arrived in New York in 1927 and was almost immediately cast in the world premiere of Eugene O’Neill’s “Mourning Becomes Electra.” As students in 1976, acting meant Marlon Brando and the Actors Studio, not Mary Arbenz and her performance tips from the Pleistocene Epoch. Unfortunately, as a group we didn’t take her class very seriously.
    That was almost 40 years ago. Mary would be happy to know that some of her advice landed in fertile soil. Mary said one of the best exercises for the actor can be done when you are not working: reading plays. Read the great plays. Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw, and of course O’Neill.
    Mary said she used to invite her actor friends over to her apartment for a “reading party.” She would open a bottle of wine, people would bring over a copy of the play for the evening, and they would read.
    But there was a catch.
    No one

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