Stella Adler Theatre
On Saturday, August 5th, 2000, Kate Mulgrew participated in the “Hollywood Speaks at the Adler” seminars held at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Jennifer Duquette was lucky enough to be able to attend the seminar and has allowed me to post her report. Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing her experience.
By Jennifer Duquette
I nervously looked at my watch and saw that the time was 1:02 pm, so I knew that she would be out on stage, right in front of me, at any second. The theater was small and comfortable, consisting of about six rows with maybe fifteen seats in each row. The stage was set with a small podium, and a bed, which I assumed was there as a prop from a play. The audience was full of anticipation when a woman entered the stage and began to introduce Ms. Mulgrew. She read a list of her accomplishments as an actress and then came the moment for which we were all waiting. She announced the name Kate Mulgrew. A few seconds later, none other than Ms. Kate Mulgrew herself was standing right there, filling the room with her presence which, as she herself would say, was "Larger than life."
She began speaking about her experiences with Stella Adler to whom she contributes her abilities as an actress, and as a magnificent stage presence. She told stories about how Stella Adler was very tough on her as an actress, but only because she believed in her. As she spoke she moved about the stage, making it her own. She would walk on and off stage to demonstrate the power of the entrance, or would flop onto the bed to show exhaustion. She made herself comfortable, and that feeling was extended to the audience as well. I recall one of her stories, which was her recollection of the first time she met Ms. Adler. As she told us of this grand woman who had the presence of royalty, Ms. Mulgrew demonstrated how this woman walked into the room, sat down on her throne and one by one her students would bring her roses. As she demonstrated, she too assumed that presence, and that was a magnificent sight to behold.
She talked of how she left home at 17 to go to New York to attend school, and also of how she had to deceive her father in order to accomplish her dream. She had to tell her father that she was going to major in philosophy in order to go to New York. So she enrolled at NYU, studied acting through the Stella Adler School of Theater, and never went to a day of regular classes. We later learned that even though she has a good relationship with her father, he never watches her on television and has only attended one of her plays and left at "half-time."
She taught the aspiring actors and actresses in the crowd that in order to get a manager one must "Lie, cheat, and murder." When she went to get her first manager she told his secretary that she had talked to him at a party in the Hamptons because she had found out that he had a house up there. So the secretary left and fifteen minutes later the manager came out and asked her into his office. He looked at her, and she was about to thank him, but he told her "Kate this is the last time you will lie to me," and soon after she had her first roles; on the soap opera, Ryan's Hope, and in the play, Our Town. She said that that was one of the two times that she dropped to her knees in her life, the second being, as we learned later, when she learned that she had been cast as the lead on Voyager.
She opened the floor to questions, and many were about how one might go about breaking into the acting business. One thing that she warned about was working on soap operas, and she advised that actors should stay away from that. She was asked some questions about Voyager, and said that episodic television is a grind. She commented on how she would like to see the show end this April, but I will not disclose any of those details.... She says that with the tight set scripts, and the image of the character to keep up, she finds a challenge in adding her own take on the character into the show, but I got a feeling that we will be seeing a lot more of her in Janeway this last season. After Voyager she plans to move out to New York and work in some regional theater, then move more into the big productions. She was also asked if she ever wants to work on the production side of the show, or of theater, and she said that she was not really interested in that.
At 2:15 pm the woman standing at the door motioned to her that it was time to leave. She graciously thanked everyone for coming, and then exited to a standing ovation. She had captivated the audience and treated us like royalty; and that, as she said, was necessary in acting. Just as quickly as her light had flooded the room, it disappeared, but it left behind a memory that I know I will treasure forever!
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