Fred Molina is a master teacher. His passion is unbounded, stopping sometimes in the middle of exercises or scenes to gush about the power of theatre to change people’s lives. We furiously write down pearls of wisdom he shares, affirmations of life in the theatre, but too numerous to remember in the heat of the moment. Some, he’s heard or read:
“My only obligation is to give you my best—tonight.” Frank Langella
“Nothing human disgusts me.” Tennessee Williams from Night of the Iguana
Others burst from him in the moment:
“Be specific. Don’t just get on the train of beautiful language.”
“In the sanctity of this space—no apologies.”
“Don’t confuse speed with pace.”
“We’re privileged to let go. It’s freedom.”
“What do you NEED!”
“Understand the character and their place in the plot.”
“You are given permission not to perform.”
“Stay wide open.”
This brings me back to why the Lunt’s built Ten Chimneys in the first place. After a long season on stage in New York or on the road (the Lunt’s brought theatre to the rest of country before regional theatre existed) they would retreat to Ten Chimneys to work in the garden, tend the chickens, cook, sew, recharge and just breathe. Alfred would busy himself cooking and building onto the estate, Lynn would sew, and sit in the garden patio for hours, happily unobserved after months of being observed.
The President and CEO of Ten Chimneys, Randy Bryant, greeted us our first night by saying, “America’s regional theatre IS our national theatre and we must fight for it.” This answers my question, “Why am I here?” I know why this wooded path to Ten Chimneys is so familiar. My Midwestern sensibility, our universal human sensibility, is what nourishes our need to create theatre; to tell stories that enlarge and enlighten what it means to be human, no matter where you live. I’m living proof that you can have a life in the theatre west of the Hudson River. This is my path.
Words are what actors traffic in, but I have none that do justice to my deep gratitude to Janet Allen for nominating me for this honor, to Randy Bryant and Ten Chimneys for selecting me and creating this wonderful program for regional theatre actors, and to Master Teacher Alfred Molina and my 2017 Lunt-Fontanne Fellows colleagues, Hugo Armstrong, Cherise Boothe, Denise Cormier, Bethany Anne Lind, Zonya Love, Daniel Pearce, Stephen Pelinski, Keith Randolph Smith, and Michael Winters for making the experience one I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
To view more photos of the Lunt-Fontanne estate visit bizjournals.com.
*Unless noted, all photos by Robert Neal.