The Soul of the American Actor

INTERVIEWS with ARTISTS

PHYLICIA RASHAD

BILLY CRUDUP

CAROL LAWRENCE

ANDRUS NICHOLS

MARTY RAYBON

ALONZO KING

JAKE LANDERS

KERRY GILBERT

YI-MIN CAI

MICHAEL SHANE NEAL

TONYA S. HOLLY

CAROLYN PALMER

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“To grasp the full significance of life is the actor's duty, to interpret it is his problem, and to express it his dedication.”  
– Marlon Brando

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
– Helen Keller

“The theatre should be treated with respect. The theatre is a wonderful place, a house of strange enchantment, a temple of illusion.”
– Noel Coward

“Cultivate an ever continuous power of observation...see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen.”
– John Singer Sargent

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
– T.S. Eliot

“Feel is if you are reborn each day and rediscover the world of nature which are joyfully a part.”
– Pablo Casals, at the age of 96

“The secret of all natural and human law is movement that meets with devotion”
– I Ching

 


Essays

Ingredients Of A Creative Life: Sketches Summer 2017

The Method Acting Exercises Handbook

The Laboratory Instinct

All People Are Famous: Instead of an Autobiography

“CREATE! How Extraordinary People Live to Create and Create to Live”

Films That Make a Difference

Witness to Spirit: My Life with Cowboys, Mozart & Indians

My Life and Art

A Healing Art: How Eurythmy Lives in the World

Dramatic Circumstances: On Acting, Singing, and Living Inside the Stories We Tell: Teaching Through the Lens of Neuroscience

Chasing Light: Notes on Creativity

Changing Ourselves to Change Society

An Excerpt from DAH Theatre: A Sourcebook

I Can Resist Everything Except Тheater: the Work and Role of The Macedonian Centre — International Theatre Institute

Real Life Drama

“Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, Rejoice, for your soul is alive.”
- Eleanora Duse

"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us. 
- Harold Clurman

 

 

“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.”
– Richard Bach

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
– William Faulkner

“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
– Ernest Hemingway

“My favorite piece of music is the one we hear all the time if we are quiet.”
– John Cage

 

Ronald Rand in Let It Be Art

My Life and Art

painting by Anthony Eterovich

“Painting is the thrilling act which encompasses a battleground of contradictions all to be resolved without compromise.” Anthony W. Eterovich  (1916-2011)

My father was a painter. Not just any painter, but one of the top ten great painters of the 20th Century. So I think and will continue to think until my dying day. I am an actor. I was raised by a painter and a choreographer and so it seemed natural to me, anyway, that I would become an actor.  Their art influenced my life and my art. And continues to do so.

My father died in 2011. He was 95. I found a note from me to him that said he was more like a younger brother to me than a father. And so our relationship went. Though I always felt loved by my parents and understood by them, I knew they did not want me to become an actor. In point of fact, my father told my high school drama teacher (who introduced me to all the work of Constantin Stanislavsky) that he had ruined me…forever!

Anthony Eterovich Teaching in 1963

“Painting is the thrilling act.” Insert “acting” where you see painting, or “directing” or “teaching,” “writing,” “designing” or anyone engaged in the creative act.

When it came time for me to prepare an art show of my father’s work, I ended up telling my mother that I could not have done “A Thrilling Act, the Art of Anthony Eterovich (1916-2011)” — a Centennial Retrospective that opened in April 2016, without having been just what they didn’t want me to be – an actor.

Anthony W. Eterovich in uniform with his portrait

In addition to the thousand ways attending art galleries influenced me as an actor, it included character development, work ethic, inspiration, visual stimulation and so many more.

Still, after my father’s death, I was a New York City actor who had toured two one-woman shows across the country and the United Kingdom, and really knew nothing about the art world, except as an appreciator of art, up against — a jolting surprise to me — a virtual blank wall.

In 2011, after my father died, my mother and I, quite reasonably approached several local galleries and institutions about the prospect of a retrospective and… surprisingly — everyone turned us down.

“Table Charade” by Anthony Eterovich

To us, we were aware of a man who had devoted his life to the making and the teaching of art. My father’s exhibition records were impressive to me and, I thought, would be to others.  He had work in not one or two but fifty-five different Cleveland Museum of Art May Shows starting in 1934 — when he was eighteen years old — till 1971. He exhibited in a dozen shows at the Butler Institute of American Art from 1939 to 1972. He won the Butler New Year Show in 1951, and that landed him in the national eye. The famous gallerist, Edith Halpert, asked him to do a painting for her Downtown Gallery in New York City, and from that exhibition, his painting.

“Garden Pedestal” by Anthony Eterovich

This in addition to many other exhibitions, prizes and sales led me to think that mounting a retrospective for my father would be a reasonable, exciting and easy task. After all, Dad was certainly no slouch. But in spite of everything, everywhere I went and proposed this retrospective for 2016, every institution, gallery, museum turned me down.  At first, it was to me as if he did not exist.  Imagine, after a four week or an eight week run of a show, someone telling you…it never happened. Thank goodness he kept all his programs.

While I admit I was shocked and crushed at the time, I also realized I had a lot to learn about the art world. But then I thought, why should this be any different than the theatre world? Why indeed? As actors, even the best of us, grow used to some form of rejection. It’s a matter of putting ourselves out there, and in my father’s case, it became an urgent matter of getting his work out there again for the public to see it.

Portrait by Anthony Eterovich

This was not an easy task. My father saw his life, as many of us do, in a disordered scrapbook of moments. The records he left behind in his studio were tucked here and there, in no particular order. It became my job to bring order out of the chaos. So suddenly one morning I said to myself:, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m an actor, I’ve done a thousand things to support myself. I’ve been an actress, producer, director, writer, secretary, bank teller, teacher and so on. I needed all these skills.

Through one of my father’s colleagues, Will Jean, (a polymath – a painter, actor, musician and singer himself) I finally found two wonderful institutions in Cleveland; ARTneo and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.  In 2015, both institutions agreed to accept small donations of a few of Dad’s paintings and mixed media. Not only that, they were thrilled with the work and they both immediately put one painting each up in shows they were currently showing.

Thinking like an actor, I sent out postcards to every art gallery and museum in Northeast Ohio about the two shows. Out of thirty-six postcards, twelve people wrote back to me because they either knew Dad or had heard of him. This was an astonishing and incredible return. I felt encouraged.

“Cleveland Renissance Visitors” by Anthony Eterovich

The icing on the cake was when a gallery owner with years of experience and interest in the Cleveland School of Art expressed interest in seeing a sampling of my father’s work. I immediately “hit the pavement,” and brought ten of my father’s paintings to his gallery. He was thrilled and wanted to make a visit to my Dad’s studio. I thought: “My work is done, my life is great, wow, this all went really well.”
However, it’s exactly the same as when an actor achieves an agent, the work is not done, the work only just begins. Actors then must continue to research and pursue appropriate work, auditions, casting directors, directors. Our gallerist, Bill Tregoning, now wanted me to photograph or scan, number, date, measure, catalogue every single painting, drawing, etching, photograph, each piece of ephemera — including all those programs I mentioned earlier in this essay. And all of this was to be logged into separate excel spreadsheets. The task seemed insurmountable at the time.

But it wasn’t. I have always enjoyed engaging in research for the theatre projects I have had the honor to be involved with. This brings a richness to the role I am playing or the show I’m directing or helping to produce.  Without research, we’re nothing, we have nothing to say. Research must be pursued, embraced and exploited for all it’s worth.  Through these spreadsheets, I scanned and read my father’s journal and discovered we had even more in common than I thought. He had had tea with Martha Graham, and dinner with Dame Judith Anderson. He interviewed the famous Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović; Mr. Meštrović studied with Rodin!

From then on, every month leading up to the opening of the show in April 2016, I would meet with Bill and soon, we went into full “production” mode and hired a publicist.  All of this  I had done as a producer and actor “learning the ropes” about theatre.

Our publicist, Hatha Communications, a Cleveland-based company, did amazing work for us and I was ready. The work had been photographed. The excel spreadsheets were ready. I had started sending out monthly postcards on old-fashioned notecards.  Equally important was snail mail to friends and family, letting them know the show was coming up and that we had various spots up on You Tube. I wrote a biography for my father for the catalogue — an easy task as I had written a thousand biographies for programs over the course of my life.

There were opening parties to plan. We had a preview night for the Cleveland Institute of Art Board Members, Alumni and friends. The President of the Cleveland Institute of Art, Grafton Nunes, came and I wrote a speech to introduce him. On Friday night, we opened to the public and I had another speech to prepare and about fifty people to thank. All this hearkened back to my days as a Speech teacher. My husband, John, and I had to be everywhere at once, meeting people, shaking hands, pouring Billecart champagne and thanking them.

Karen Eterovich

The show was extended twice and ran for four months, receiving two reviews in major Cleveland publications. Press articles ran in the CAN Journal, Cleveland Scene, Link Magazine and the Parma Observer.  The local PBS Station, the Sound of Applause Radio Program and Television program did documentaries on my father. Cleveland Arts Prize Winner Dee Perry interviewed Bruce Checefsky, Director of the Galleries at the Cleveland Institute of Art and Bill Tregoning our Gallerist. Dennis Knowles and the Ideastream “dream team” shot a video documentary that was shown on WVIZ. Vivian Goodman interviewed NEA Award-winning artist George Kozmon  about Dad on WKSU. Ted Sikora, the award-winning Cleveland film maker shot a documentary on Anthony Eterovich through a grant from the Artists Archives. I was interviewed for both on-camera documentaries.

The work paid off. We sold seven paintings. But, my work wasn't done. I still has to finish scanning, stamping, numbering and photographing all of the drawings. I’ve learned to use Instagram to keep Dad’s work in the public mind while I pursue institutions for touring and donations (check out @eterovichdaughter on Instagram). I am sending two to five glossy folders with catalogues, letters and reviews per week to museums and galleries.

Event celebrating Anthony Eterovich Opening

My life is enriched daily by looking at Dad’s art work and the art work of other visual artists. We have a child, I miss out on most theatre right now but I can continue to be stimulated and live a life with art. I act less often but when I do I have the richest choices at my fingertips. I would advise all actors, young and old, to live deeply, love urgently, and remember, in our art, a detour may not be a detour at all but something that will change us forever for the better.

2016 was so much about my father and a life event for our family so I must give him the final word, especially since I don’t think I could put it any better:  “The educative force of creating and appreciating the arts goes beyond the final art product; it makes other areas of human endeavor thoroughly enriching.” Anthony W. Eterovich, 1916-2011

•2016 Written exclusively for “The Soul of the American Actor.”

Karen Eterovich has toured her plays, “Love Arm’d,” and “Aphra Behn & Her Pen” nationally and internationally including to the Bedlam Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland. “Cheer from Chawton,” another of her plays about Jane Austen had workshops in Stockton, CA, and Pleasantville, NY, culminating in a performance in New York City at the renowned Players Club presented by Ronald Rand, and at the Mission Theatre in Bath, England for the Jane Austen Festival in 2006, and performed at the Mission Theatre for a week long repertory run of “Love Arm’d” and “Cheer from Chawton” in 2008.  In 2010, “Cheer from Chawton” was the finale performance of the 10th Annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, UK. She performed in “Twelfth Night” with the Kings County Shakespeare Company. Her play, “Where Art is Framed” was performed at the historic Lambs Club and as part of the Players Creative Workshop Showcase at the Players Club in New York City.  Another play, “Pumpkin Fluff,” was accepted for the Blue Roses Infusion Series, the Lab at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference for Playwrights in Valdez, Alaska and for a reading by the PCW at the Players. In New York she appeared in The 2017 Many Faces of Love Valentine Monologue Festival, “The Importance of Being Earnest” with the Hudson Warehouse, “Innocent Diversions” at Ten Ten Theater, “The Madwoman of Chaillot" at MTB Studios and “Looking for the Pony” at Vital Signs, Strawberry and Samuel French Festivals. Regionally she appeared in “Great Expectations” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, “The Rover,”  “The Cherry Orchard,” with the Resident Acting Company at Cornell University, “All’s Well That Ends Well” at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. directed by Michael Kahn, as Masha in “The Three Sisters” and Alma in “Summer and Smoke,” directed by Paul Giovanni. Her film work includes: Mirabel in “Modern Love” directed by Robby Benson,  and a film project with Tandy Cronyn. Ms. Eterovich is a member of the WRITE ON! Playwriting Group, Managing Director for  Blue Roses Productions, and a member of Women Stage the World, a sub-committee of the League's Advocacy Program.

 


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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