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MarlaLewinGFV


Reporting on movies, film festivals, film production, premieres, movie events, industry trends and plays from around the world
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The Global Film Village: Beau and Emily Bridges in ACTING: THE FIRST SIX LESSONS

by Marla Lewin

Last night we were treated to a wonderful performance of “Acting: The First Six Lessons,” a play adapted and performed by Beau Bridges and his daughter Emily Bridges. The play was based on the 1933 book by Richard Boleslavsky  which was given to Beau, when he was fourteen by his father Lloyd Bridges. It was the only book about acting his father ever gave him.

Beau Bridges is a longtime Theatre West member and has done many workshops with the theatre company. Last night was the first time he has performed in a play on the Theatre West stage. He complemented the theatre company and pointed out Betty Garret in the audience for all she has contributed to the company over the years.

As the play starts he introduces himself and his daughter, “I will wake up with my heart full of dreams, an empty stage, family and dear friends, I am excited, I am Beau, my real name is Lloyd Vernet Bridges III, I was born two days after Pearl Harbor and my mother Dorothy was groggy from the birth, and sat up and said, “Beau!”  The nurse didn’t understand and asked her again so she named me after my dad. I have always been called Beau after a character in “Gone With The Wind.”

Emily Beau Bridges shared how her grandfather, who she called “Zadi” taught her that concentration was the key to success in life and on the stage. Beau said, “I wanted to be an actor, my father was a perfectionist, he said there are many wanting the part, so you must prepare harder.  I feel his spirit here with us as we are passing down these stories”. Friends and family filled the  opening night audience, including Norman Jewison and his wife.  Norman told me he gave Beau an early break in his career casting him for the lead in “Gaily, Gaily” the film earned three Academy Award nominations.

“Acting: The First Six Lessons” is the famous 1933 text by Richard Boleslavsky, depicting dialogues between a wise, experienced acting teacher and a pretty but raw young actress at the start of her career, possessed at the beginning of things with more enthusiasm than skill. By the end of Boleslavsky’s narrative, she has taken possession of her true gifts, in command of her craft and poised to succeed in acting and in life. The success of Beau’s remarkable career attests to the book’s impact. Now Beau has shared the book with his lovely daughter Emily, and these second and third generation members of one of America’s most beloved families of actors have adapted Boleslavsky’s story of a mature instructor and his young eager student devoted to their craft for performance on the stage.

Beau and Emily transform into their characters in the year 1933. The young actress is known only as The Creature,  and according to Beau’s character known only as the Teacher, she has much to learn. Through the play the audience and the Creature are taught how to observe the world, and how to use these experiences to bring life to their performances on stage. Boleslavsky teaches us that everything from the pageant of life must be used to express the nuances of the characters an actor is asked to become. By mastering “The First Six Lessons of Acting”, the young woman becomes not only a consummate actress, but a fully realized human being.

The Bridges choose to keep the play in the world of 1933 which was the time of FDR first taking office, it was also when Hitler came to power, and over 10 million Russians had already starved to death under Stalin’s rule. Millions of Americans were homeless in this country including over 60,000 children living on the streets of New York City. They felt that the conditions of that time could be understood easily based on the experiences facing our society today.

Beau and Emily plan to remain after each performance for a brief Q&A period with the audience.

After the show, I spoke with Beau and he affirmed that Boleslavsky, who like Staneslavsky influenced generations of actors, also were connected in their approach to the French Louise Dumont Theatre and even Brecht.  He said that Boleslavsky was always evolving in his approach and later in his life Boleslavsky did yoga and mediation.

Beau and Emily plan to take the play on a national tour of colleges and universities to expose students to its lessons and philosophy of life.

Beau has starred on Broadway (“Where’s Daddy?,” Peter Ustinov’s “Who’s Who in Hell”), on screen (“Max Payne,” “Norma Rae,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” much, much more) and television (three Emmy awards ®, two Golden Globes). He is also the recipient of a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Emily Bridges, is a member of the Theatre West company and has appeared in two previous productions including the critical and popular hit revival of “Gaslight.”

“Acting: The First Six Lessons” is directed by Charlie Mount and produced by John Gallogly and Emily Bridges for Theatre West. Charlie Mount directed the 2009 Theatre West revival of “Gaslight.” Additionally, he is the founder and producer of Chestnuts, a wing of Theatre West devoted to the revival of great plays.

WHEN: April 9- May 16, 2010. Fridays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

RESERVATIONS: (323) 851-7977.

ONLINE TICKETING: www.theatrewest.org

Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, in Los Angeles, CA 90068.

This is in proximity to North Hollywood, Universal City and Studio City. There is FREE parking in a lot across the street.

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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.

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