That’s It!

Elia Kazan, “The Forties: Broadway, Actors, and the Studio,” Kazan on Kazan, (New York: Viking Press, 1974), pp.37-38:

There’s a fundamental difference: I think there should be collaboration, but under my thumb! I think people should collaborate with me. I think any art is, finally, the expression of one maniac. That’s me. I get people who help me, but I’m the centre of it. The whole damn thing in the Actors’ Studio, by the time I left it, was that everybody had a voice, and everybody was an equal, and everybody knew how they should do things. That’s fine for a school, but it has nothing to do with art. Art is the overwhelmingly strong impression that one obsessed visionary puts on his work. It’s important that the people who collaborate with you are able to see things as you do, but also that they’re wiling to ask you what you want and try to give it to you. When I have people I like, it’s enormously pleasurable. And I like being contradicted because it helps the work, so long as I can, at a point, say; ‘That’s it.’ But I think a lot of other directors don’t allow contradiction because they’re afraid. They’re not certain enough of themselves. If you’re certain of yourself, you can hear all the other voices; if you are not certain of yourself, you’re anxious, and you don’t want everybody to talk. If you don’t let anybody express himself, that’s bad too. With actors, I allow a tremendous amount of initiative. I always set the goal of each day first; I tell them what I want that day. The good actors have often surprised me by giving me my goal, my result, through means I didn’t anticipate. That’s the best way.

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