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Method Actors Need Not Apply

Method Actors Need Not Apply

All shapes, sizes, genders, ages, and dispositions found a home in the Play-House of the Ridiculous. One kind of person John Vaccaro didn’t want was traditionally trained actors, and instead he recruited people who were creative forces of nature onstage. “Don’t be an ac-TOR,” the director would say, making fun of Method acting. When Ellen Stewart first brought Michael Arian to Vaccaro, he was suspicious because Arian had been to acting school. “John wasn’t sure that people with training could adjust to his style,” he said, “but I did really fast because I liked it. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.” Ruby Lynn Reyner added, “Michael Arian and everybody directed themselves, pretty much. John got people who were creative and didn’t need that kind of direction.” Vaccaro wanted his performers to be over the top, and used to say, “There’s a close‑up on you at all times! Louder, louder! I can’t hear you. Bigger, bigger! The spotlight is on you. SHINE!” Everyone fought to have their face in front, and because all the performers were doing it with energy and gusto it became quite cohesive, even if it was still rough around the edges. “With the Play-House, we were bigger than life all the time,” Agosto Machado said. “What made those shows a hit was that energy level, and all that wonderful glitter and sparkle and the madness of the script.”

From Chapter 16 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore