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Study Guide: Students & Educators

Heather Baird
Director of Education

Tyler Easter
Education Associate

Fran Tarr
Education Coordinator

r g an
L o ne
ne th e
K e n Pep
n b y neil
r i t te d by
W ecte
Dir

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Section 1: The Play
Synopsis, Characters, Setting, Themes
Section 2: Cast & Creative
Director & Cast Bios
Section 3: Your Students As Audience
Theater Vocabulary, Webbing &
Discussion, Connecting Themes
To Pop Culture
Section 4: Your Students As Actors
Reading A Scene for Understanding,
Practical Aesthetics, Scene
Analysis, Mini-Lesson Vocabulary
Section 5: Your Students As Artists
Post-Theater Creative Response Activity,
Post-Theater Creative Writing Activity,
Post-Theater: Challenging The Plot,
Common Core & DOE Theater Blueprint
Section 6: The Atlantic Legacy
Atlantic Theater Company,
Atlantic Acting School

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Section 1:
The Play
Synopsis,

PLAY
Characters
Setting,
Themes

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Synopsis
On learning of his mothers death, world famous country and
SETTING
Present day a luxury hotel
western star Strings McCrane begins questioning the meaning in Kansas City, various rural
of his life and what it all adds up to. Determined to abandon his Tennessee locations.
celebrity and his career, he moves back to his hometown in Ten-
nessee. It doesnt go well. Here, as Strings grasps for an anchor to
steady him -- relationships, old and new, rush into Strings vul-

THEMES
nerable world bringing each step he takes into a blur rather than
a clarifying moment. This outstanding new play from acclaimed
playwright Kenneth Lonergan examines the costs of fame, fortune
and narcissism in pursuit of the American Dream.
Loss
Narcissism
Trust
Manipulation
Fame/Celebrity
Strings McCrane: 35-45. A world-famous country & western singer and Anonymity
movie star. Charismatic, attractive, essentially good-hearted; a huge star from a
little town in Tennessee, lost in a spiral of self-doubt, self-recrimination, and an Search For Identity
inexhaustible but exhausting capacity for self-examination. He lives in a rarefied
world of wealth and worshipers which he loves and feels ashamed of at the same
time. Struggling with a genuine onslaught of grief and guilt in the wake of his
mothers death, he is torn between the tremendous pull of his immense celebri-
ty, and the lure of a simple, possibly nonexistent, anonymous life.

Jimmy: About 30. Strings personal assistant. Idolizes Strings and has been his
assistant for 12 years. Kind, eager, and completely devoted to Strings with near
total abnegation. The casual observer might miss his buried but active intelli-
gence, and an eye that misses almost nothing.

Nancy: 35-45. An attractive and ambitious working-class small-town South-


ern mother of two. Her life has run into a dead end, in a dead marriage. She is
desperate for a way out and when it presents itself she bends heaven and earth
to make the most of it.

Duke: Strings half-brother, a few years older. He is a heavy-equipment opera-


tor, living in rural poverty. A level-headed man of strong character both resentful
and clear-eyed about Strings success and his own working/family man exis-
tence.

Essie: Late 20s-Early 30s. Strings second cousin twice removed. A young
widow and kindergarten teacher. Had a close relationship with Strings mother.
Shes lonely with a good heart and good head on her shoulders. Sensitive and
vulnerable and even-keeled.

Mitch: 60s. Strings runaway father. A modestly successful small business


owner based in Monterey, Ca. He is originally from the same little Tennessee
town. Small, quiet, and unassuming, he abandoned his young son years ago
-- or more accurately, he allowed himself to be pushed out of his sons life, and
has followed his famous son from a distance for years. He has never reached out
because he never felt he had the right, and also because of his natural timidity.
Despite this, when approached, he responds with generosity, self-effacement,
and a tremendous natural kindness.

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Section 2:
Cast & Creative
Director And

CAST
Cast Bios

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KENNETH LONERGAN NEIL PEPE ADELAIDE CLEMENS JONATHAN HOGAN
Playwright Director (Essie) (Mitch)
Plays include This is Our Youth Neil Pepe is an acclaimed director Adelaide Clemens makes her Jonathan Hogan has appeared on
(1996), Drama Desk Best Play nomi- who has been the Artistic Director Off-Broadway debut with Hold On To Broadway in Comedians, Otherwise
nee, 2015 Tony Award Best Revival of Atlantic Theater Company since Me Darling. She co-stars in the hit Engaged, Fifth of July, The Caine
nominee (Steppenwolf); The Waverly 1992. As a director, his Broadway Sundance Channel series Rectify, Mutiny Court Martial, As Is (Tony
Gallery (2000), Pulitzer Prize finalist; credits include Doug Wright, Trey An- now in its fourth season, and has and Drama Desk Award nominations
Lobby Hero (2001), Drama Desk Best astasio and Amanda Greens musical received critical acclaim for her Best Actor), Burn This, Taking Steps
Play nominee, Outer Critics Circle Hands on a Hardbody, the acclaimed performance as Tawney. She began and The Homecoming. A few of the
Best Play nominee, 2002 Olivier revival of David Mamets Speed-the- working as an actress in Australian plays he appeared in as a member,
Award nominee for Best Play during Plow as well as Mamets A Life in television and came to prominence for 25 years, of the celebrated,
its West End run; The Starry Messen- the Theatre. At the Atlantic, Neil has as Harper in the critically acclaimed award-winning Circle Rep include The
ger (2009), and Medieval Play (2012). most recently directed John Guares series Love My Way. She starred Hot l Baltimore, The Mound Builders
His first film, You Can Count On Me 3 Kinds of Exile, Moira Buffinis Dying as Valentine in the Tom Stoppard and Balm in Gilead (in collaboration
(2000), which he wrote and direct- for It, Jez Butterworths Parlour HBO/BBC miniseries Parades End with Steppenwolf, Drama Desk Award
ed, was an Academy Award and Song, Mojo and The Night Heron. opposite Benedict Cumberbatch and for Best Ensemble). Off-Broadway
Golden Globe Nominee for Best Other Off-Broadway and Regional Rebecca Hall, directed by Susanna includes Book of Days, Molly Swee-
Screenplay, and won the Sundance credits include: Ethan Coens Happy White. On film she was featured in ney, London Wall and Pocatello (2015
Grand Jury Prize, Waldo Salt Screen- Hour, Offices and Almost an Evening; Baz Luhrmanns film adaptation of Drama Desk nomination Outstanding
writing Award, NY Film Critics Circle, Harold Pinters Celebration and The Great Gatsby, playing Kath- Featured Actor). Regional: The Berk-
LA Film Critics Circle, Independent The Room; Adam Rapps Dreams erine opposite Joel Edgerton, Isla shire Theatre Festival, The McCarter
Spirit Award for Best Film and of Flying Dreams of Falling; David Fisher, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Theatre, George Street Playhouse,
Best Screenplay, among numerous Mamets American Buffalo (Donmar Mulligan and just wrapped filming the La Jolla Playhouse, The Repertory
awards and nominations. His second Warehouse, Atlantic); Romance, female lead in Martha Coolidges Mu- Theatre of St. Louis and Hartford
film, Margaret (2011) and Margaret Keep Your Pantheon/School (Center sic, War, and Love in Warsaw, Poland. Stage. Film includes: In Country, The
Extended Edition (2012), won the Theatre Group, Atlantic); Zinnie Har- She can soon be seen in the British House on Carroll Street, A Fish in the
European Film Critics FIPRESCI ris Further than the Furthest Thing film The Night of The Lotus directed Bathtub and Revolution #9. Television:
Award at the Vienna Film Festival, (Manhattan Theatre Club); Jessica by Henry Mason. As The World Turns, One Life to
and the Traverse City Film Festival Goldbergs Refuge (Playwrights Live, several Movies of the Week,
Founders Prize, and received wide- Horizons); Frank Gilroys The Subject L.A. Law, Quantum Leap, all the
spread critical acclaim both in the Was Roses with Martin Sheen (CTG) Law & Orders and three episodes on
U.S. and abroad, as well as becoming and Eric Bogosians Red Angel (Wil- season three of House of Cards. Mr.
a cause celebre among cinema jour- liamstown Theatre Festival). Neil has Hogan is a graduate of The Goodman
nalists and critics worldwide. He also been a master teacher at the Atlantic Theatre and School of Drama.
co-wrote the screenplays for Analyze Acting School at New York University
This and Gangs of New York (2002 Tisch School of the Arts and an asso-
WGA and Academy Award nomina- ciate adjunct professor of directing at
tion for Best Original Screenplay). He Columbia University Graduate Film
lives in New York City with his wife Division. He has been a guest at The
and frequent collaborator, actress J. ONeill Playwrights Conference as
Smith-Cameron, and their daughter, well as the American Theatre Wing.
Nellie.

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JENN LYON KEITH NOBBS TIMOTHY OLYPHANT C.J. WILSON
(Nancy) (Jimmy) (Strings McCrane) (Duke)
Broadway: Fish in the Dark, The Broadway: Lombardi, Bronx Bomb- Timothy Olyphant returns to the New Atlantic Theater Company: Dying for
Coast of Utopia: Voyage, Shipwreck, ers, Lion in Winter. Off-Broadway: York stage for the first time in 20 It, Our New Girl, Offices, The Voysey
Salvage. Off-Broadway: The Wayside The Legend of Georgia McBride, years following starring Off-Broadway Inheritance. Broadway: Bronx Bomb-
Motor Inn, (Drama Desk Award) Im Looking for Helen Twelvetrees, in The Santaland Diaries and The ers, The Big Knife, Festen, Henry IV,
Twelfth Night. Select regional roles The Tutors, Great God Pan, Lemon Monogamist, for which he received The Best Man. Off-Broadway: Bronx
include Hildy in His Girl Friday (La Sky, Dog Sees God, Romance, The a prestigious Theatre World Award Bombers, Happy Now? (Lucille Lortel
Jolla Playhouse), Billie Dawn in Born Hasty Heart, Triple Happiness, Bye for Outstanding Debut Performance. nomination, Primary Stages); Me-
Yesterday (ACT Theatre), Brooke Bye Birdie at Encores!, Dublin Carol, He is best known for his Emmy dieval Play, The Lady from Dubuque
Ashton in Noises Off (South Coast Free to Be You and Me, Four (Lortel Award nominated performance as (Signature); All-American (LCT3);
Rep) and several world premieres Award, Drama Desk nomination), US Marshal Raylan Givens on all six Race (CSC); Home of the Brave (Jew-
including John Guares Are You There Fuddy Meers, Hope is the Thing with seasons of the critically acclaimed FX ish Rep); Stop Kiss (Public). Regional:
McPhee? (McCarter Theatre) and Feathers, Stupid Kids. Film: The Bad series Justified. He recently returned Old Globe, Shakespeare Theatre,
Polly Penns Embarrassments (Wilma Guys, Weakness, The Briefcase, to television in a recurring guest-star Berkshire Theatre Group, William-
Theatre). Television: series regular on Phone Booth, Double Whammy and role on Foxs The Grinder, for which stown Theatre Festival, Wilma, Mc-
Saint George, Justified (seasons more. Television: series regular in Ed he received a Critics Choice Award Carter, Chautauqua, ACT in Seattle,
3 and 4) Suburgatory, Louie, All Burns and Steven Spielbergs Public for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy and the Acting Co. Film: The Intern.
My Children, Army Wives. Film: Phil Morals on TNT, The Pacific (Emmy Series, and will next be seen in Gary Upcoming: Manchester-by-the-Sea,
Spector, The Flower Shop. Co-found- Awards Outstanding mini-series Marshalls film Mothers Day and Demolition, Easy Living. Television:
er/writer for online sketch comedy and casting) and Muhammad Alis Oliver Stones Snowden. Television in- House of Cards, The Characters,
group Poykpac (over 90 million Greatest Fight on HBO, The Black cludes NBCs hit comedy series The The Following, The Sound of Music
views). jennlyon.net Donnellys (series regular), In Plain Office, FXs award winning series Live! The Americans Blue Bloods,
Sight, In Treatment, Person of In- Damages, and guest appearances Brotherhood, Without a Trace,
terest, the Law & Orders, Fringe. on popular shows such as Foxs The L&O, L&O: SVU, L&O: CI, Onion
Graduate of LaGuardia High School of Mindy Project, FXs The League Sportsdome, Pan Am, Third
Performing Arts. and Archer, NBCs My Name Is Watch, Amsterdam. Fox Fellow.
Earl, ABCs Samantha Who? and
HBOs Sex and The City. He first
garnered critical acclaim for his
portrayal of Seth Bullock in HBOs
groundbreaking series Deadwood.
Film includes This is Where I Leave
You, I Am Number Four, The Crazies,
High Life, A Perfect Getaway, Live
Free or Die Hard, Hitman, The Girl
Next Door, GO, Meet Bill, Catch and
Release, Dreamcatcher, Rock Star,
Gone In 60 Seconds, A Man Apart,
Scream 2, A Life Less Ordinary and
he voiced the role of The Spirit of the
West in the animated film Rango.

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Section 3:
Your Students

AUDIENCE
As Audience
Theater Vocabulary,
Webbing & Discus-
sion, Connecting
Themes To Pop
Culture

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Plays should tell simple,
honest stories.
David Mamet, American playwright &

noted actor, William H. Macy, founders


of Atlantic Theater Company

The following activities will assist your


students in understanding the intentions
of the playwright to tell a simple story.

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Teacher Objective
To be able to discuss theater through a common, shared
vocabulary.

Student Goal
To understand that the most effective way to discuss
theater and new ideas is through a shared vocabulary.

Action: The events that move along the story of the play
and which influence the characters within the play.

Characters: Individuals the audience learns about


from their actions and reactions.

Ensemble: A group of performers working together


to create a complete production.

Dialogue: The exchange of speech between two


characters which reveals the feelings of the character
as well as the story of the play.

Monologue: A speech by one actor on stage


which is intended to reveal the inner thoughts
of the character the actor plays.

Character Arc: The change produced in a character


by the events and other characters in the play.

Musical Theater: A twentieth century creation


where writers and musicians collaborate to create
a play which features song, dance and drama.

Mood: The overall feeling the play evokes.

Costume: The clothes, boots, etc., worn by the


actors based on their character.

Prop: Objects used by an actor to enhance their


character. For example, wine glasses at a bar for drinks.

Set: The constructed environment of a play within


which the action takes place.

Sound: Noises and music used in the play.

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webbing & discussion
In Hold On To Me Darling, Kenneth Lonergan challenges the Step One
social/political paradigms of finding my place within one Write the Webbing Ideas on the chalk/
individuals life. Does challenging the idea that fame trumps Smart Board.
anonymity resonate with you as an audience member? What
Step Two
situations or choices in your own life relate to challenging this Have each student add their impressions
paradigm? of the meaning of one of this concept and
how it relates to their own experience.

Step Three
Use the students responses to focus on
how unique each students perception is
of this concept. Why is this true?

Step Four
Ask the students to discuss what Strings
means when he says, Im just lashin out,
I guess. Lashin out at the people nearest
to me...

Do they believe individuals, in times of


stress and need, lash out against those
nearest to them? Why? Does lashin out
have a relationship to the concept of
finding their place in the world?

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CONNECTING THEMES
TO POP CULTURE
Fame does not define me. If you are looking
for fame to define you, then you will never
be happy and youll always be searching for
happiness, and you will never find it in fame
Fulfillment comes from within you, by being
authentic to yourself not chasing fame.
-Cameron Diaz
The nature of celebrity has changed dramatically through the
years. Hold On To Me Darling explores one mans struggle with his
own identity as a public figure. Whether loved, criticized, hated or
held to the standards of the Gods, celebrities are deeply rooted in
our consciousness.

In the following articles, youll read about the impact of celebrity


on society, how the concept of fame has changed in the digital
age and how fame can both positively and negatively impact an
individual.

Timothy
Olyphant
as String
s McCran
e. Photo
Credit: A
hron R. Foster

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July 29, 2015 Social media has not only changed the face of
Author: Zafar Rais, CEO, MindShift Interactive communication over the years but also helped
giving a personality to a face. Earlier we had very
Lives of the rich and the famous are no longer myste- little information through interviews, tabloids,
rious or inexplicable; they are out in the open for all to newspapers, etc about the celebrities and their
consume. In todays world, being famous means agree- personal life. Twitter has been a big game chang-
ing to give up your privacy to a large extent. Social media er in this trend. Facebook has become a platform
has allowed a common person to become the superstar to talk more about personal life while Twitter has
they always looked up to. become a platform which is more interactive
in order to establish communication with fans
Social media and our allied culture have prompted three without the fear of sharing away all private infor-
substantial changes to the word celebrity: Today we see mation.
social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Face-
book, Instagram give normal people an opportunity to The popularity of Justin Bieber is one such
gain fame, and they also give closely monitored celeb- example of becoming famous through online
rities an opportunity to connect with fans and air their presence. Vlogging, fashion blogging, etc have
grievances. become lucrative careers majorly due to the on-
set on social media. Brands are also adapting to
In this day and age of quick communications, the word this new trend and taking the necessary effective
celebrity has been redefined. Celebrity is no longer approaches for brand management and recall.
reserved for actors, singers, politicians, sports person- Social media has gradually become a signifi-
alities. Celebrity at the most basic level, simply means cant aspect of our daily lives. Its leading to the
being known among a group of people and having a creation of a universal place to create content
certain opinion that others look up to. (media). Most of us have heard stories of people
who started blogs, podcasts, or online video
A celebrity traditionally refers to an exclusive person who channels and gained a following over time. We
has a broad exposure through different forms of conven- know an opportunity for anyone to be known
tional media channels like newspapers, movies, etc. The is available to those who opt to become famous/
internet then changed the definition of celebrity giving it celebrity. The concept of being a celebrity has
newer attributes; we witnessed a whole new set of celeb- been redefined and thus by default this new age
rities who became famous by blogging, dancing, acting, celebrity is now more accessible. The question
etc. We saw the birth of the term Internet celebrity. It for all aspiring to be in that category is to figure
was the beginning of the era when anyone and everyone out efficient ways of using it to our advantage.
had the chance to be known about virtually anything!

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She took on a president and Nashville cast anyone still in a group called the Dixie Chicks could
her off. Ten years later, shes finally ready to possibly be, but she still craves the wide-open spaces
move on. she used to sing about. Or else she just needs some-
place big and quiet to process all thats happened to
June 6, 2013 her. Its probably good for her mentally, to kind of air
Rolling Stone Magazine her brain out, says her dad, Lloyd Maines, a famed
steel guitarist and producer in his own right. And she
In 1986, while George W. Bush was busy finding looks to me like shes in the best shape of her life.
Jesus and swearing off alcohol, a spunky little blond Its almost silent up here, except for the crunch of our
girl named Natalie Maines was finishing sixth grade feet on the dirt trail, the panting of her dogs, Mabel
in sleepy Lubbock, Texas. At a graduation ceremony, (a white Labrador) and Banjo (a friendly, dreadlocked
one of her favorite teachers offered a mock predic- puli, a breed introduced to her by Taking the Long
tion: She would be elected president of the United Way producer Rick Rubin), and my own increasingly
States, then get kicked out of office for excessive labored breathing. I usually run the second part,
talking. For Maines, who instead grew up to be the Maines says. But I wont make you do that!
Dixie Chicks lead singer, then the most vilified wom-
an in Dixie, and now, at age 38, a fledgling solo artist, When fellow hikers pass by, they offer no more than
the story proves one thing: I was born outspoken. It friendly nods no one recognizes her. Maines has
followed me my whole life. a blunt-force haircut she compares to Rachel Mad-
dows, and is wearing a blue windbreaker over a
For nearly seven years, though, in the wake of the sleeveless sweatshirt, a gray tee, running shorts and
Chicks last album, 2006s Taking the Long Way, she yellow-and-blue-neon running shoes. She looks, at
was uncharacteristically quiet. Instead of recording the moment, more like an unusually attractive high
new music or touring (outside of scattered Chicks school volleyball coach than anyones idea of a star.
dates), Maines was at home: raising two kids while her The short hair fits my personality more, she says. I
husband, former Heroes star Adrian Pasdar, pursued think maybe, with long hair, it was a role I was play-
his acting career; gardening in her lush Brentwood ing dress-up a bit. A few years back, she even buzzed
backyard; folding laundry while she listened to How- her head. That was the best. Oh, my God! The best! I
ard Stern on the radio. People have a very romantic hate thinking about clothes. I hate shopping. I havent
idea of what theyd do if they could sing, she says, gotten a manicure or pedicure in six years. I dont col-
displaying no apparent exertion as she trots up a or my hair anymore. I mean, the upkeep on that was
nearly vertical section of a hiking trail in the Santa time-consuming. I used to be way more blond. But my
Monica Mountains, a few minutes from home. But kids especially my youngest one are desperate for
Im a mom, and it takes a lot of time. She claims, with me to grow my hair back out.
a laugh, that she put out her rock-dominated solo
debut, Mother, largely to get people to stop bugging Her first radical haircut was in junior high. I was
her to make new music. I didnt think I had time in my the only cheerleader with a half-shaved head, says
life for this, she says. I sing all the time. But maybe Maines with her big, easy laugh. She was popular
nobodys hearing it, because Im singing in my car or but rebellious. In racially divided Lubbock, a lot of
in my house or whatever. I dont need the roar of the her friends were black or Hispanic (The black girls in
crowd, and I dont need to hear cheers to feel validat- elementary school liked me because I could sing with
ed. them and do the Cabbage Patch), and she would
absolutely get in a tizzy when white kids made racist
Six mornings a week, Maines hikes this vertiginous cracks. She started calling herself a hippie, wore
five-mile-long path, which offers a brutal workout Birkenstocks apparently a shocking statement in
and a Lord of the Rings-worthy view that stretches late-Eighties West Texas and tried, without success,
for miles, even on todays cool and overcast spring to organize an anti-dress-code sit-in.
morning. Maines is as fed up with country music as
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Maines was a pop and R&B fan as a little kid (I used when, on March 10th, 2003, Maines stood onstage in
to kiss my Michael Jackson album my first interra- London, on the eve of the Iraq War, and made a casual
cial relationship!). Growing up, I thought I was going comment, punctuated with a smile: Just so you know,
to be Madonna, she says. I wanted to be a pop star. were on the good side with yall. We do not want this
I wanted to dance and sing. Her dad had helped war, this violence, and were ashamed that the pres-
invent what would become alt-country, playing with ident of the United States is from Texas. For coun-
the Flatlanders, among many others but shed flip try-radio programmers, and at least a hysterical mi-
past those LPs to get to his Carly Simon, James Taylor nority of fans, it was as if shed French-kissed Saddam
and Bonnie Raitt albums (also the Grease soundtrack, Hussein while setting fire to a puppy wrapped in the
which she memorized). I had never bought a country American flag. An unprecedented boycott and high-
album in my life, or even listened to one all the way tech lynching followed often overtly sexist, with
through, she says. drown-the-witch overtones: Bill OReilly calling them
callow, foolish women who deserve to be slapped
She graduated high school a year early, and took around wasnt even the worst of it. As chronicled
classes at four different colleges including an indif- in the superb 2006 documentary Shut Up and Sing,
ferent semester at Bostons Berklee College of Music, Maines and her bandmates handled it with strength
where she had won a scholarship. Her dad had re- and grace, touring in the face of death threats, play-
corded a four-song demo with her for Berklee, which ing with their young kids backstage while protesters
he passed along to the Dixie Chicks, a small-time screamed and smashed CDs outside the venues. Re-
bluegrass group hed played with. I wasnt pitching corded with the controversy fresh in their minds, the
Natalie at all, says Lloyd. I just said casually, Hey, barely-country Taking the Long Way turned out to be
this is my girl singing, check it out. Within a year, one of the Chicks best albums, slapping down their
the core Chicks sisters Martie Maguire and Emily critics while winning five Grammys and selling 2.5 mil-
Robison had pushed out their original lead singer lion copies despite near-zero country-radio support.
and come calling for Natalie, even though she had
zero professional experience. They liked the fact But the backlash left inevitable scars. I joke that I
that she could sing powerful, says Lloyd, and not have PTSD, but theres probably truth in that joke,
be drowned out by their harmonies. And they liked Maines says, blue eyes shining. It all put an ugly light
her look and her attitude. She skipped an econ exam on people that I was kind of happily naive to. But when
at her college of the moment and went right on the I was going through it, I really didnt feel like it was af-
road. Before the first show, I was like, No big deal, fecting me. I was in fight mode and battle mode, and I
were gonna be great, and I remember Martie was felt, you know, I was right, and free to say what I want
freaking out, recalls Maines. And I was like, Why are to say. She went into therapy in the past few years.
you freaking out? Im sure on the inside, shes going, Not just stuff with the controversy, but I think Ive
Because Ive done this for 10 years! But it was great. I always been sort of a person that just pushes the feel-
was right that was just the beginning of her learning ings down, and then they do eventually come back up.
that I am right! So I didnt have tools to know how to deal with them
or acknowledge them. I always like to pretend every-
With Maines on board, the Chicks signed their first things OK. Im a shyer person now, less trusting.
major-label deal, and almost instantly became super-
stars. The group pushed boundaries the Thelma & Backstage at the Grammys in early 2007, after the
Louise feminism of 1999s Goodbye Earl, a gleeful Chicks topped off their night by winning Album of
account of murdering an abusive husband, seriously the Year, Maines found that she couldnt stop crying.
freaked out the country-music establishment. It was really freaking me out, actually, she says.
Cause I couldnt control it. I kept saying, I dont
Maines found herself called into her label presidents know why Im crying, its not because Grammys
office for various sins telling dirty jokes onstage, mean so much to me! Looking back, I realize now my
leading a club crowd in rounds of shots. Shed re- subconscious knew that was an ending of a chap-
spond to challenges by doubling down: After one ter for me. And, like, the ending of a battle. I just felt,
lyric horrified her record company, she added the like, OK. I fucking won the war and now I quit. She
line Thats right, I said mattress-dancin. The other laughs. Im tired, and Im sick of all you people, and
Chicks didnt share her rebellious instincts, but they Im not putting myself out there for you to judge. Im
always supported her, even when the controversies done.
turned much uglier. We know each other, says One morning last year, Maines called her manager,
Maines, and we love each other. Simon Renshaw, and asked him to meet her at an
address in Santa Monica. When he showed up, it
For anyone who really knew her, it was no surprise turned out to be a studio owned by Ben Harper. Sit
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down, Maines told Renshaw, a genial Brit whos been Chicks 1999 breakthrough, Fly. Because I was really,
managing her and the Chicks since she joined. I want like, embracing country and really waving that country
to play you something. Until that moment, Renshaw flag. My accent is so out of control on that album. Im
had no idea that Maines was making music. She just like, Who is that?
went and did it on her own, the way she wanted to do
it, he says. When the Bush controversy hit, Maines was stunned.
I always thought they accepted us in spite of the fact
She did have to be coaxed a bit. Harper lives not far that we were different, she says. It shocked me and
from Maines, and they became closer friends after kind of grossed me out that people thought I would be
their kids had started playing together they also had a conservative right-winger, that Id be a redneck. But
a mutual friend in Eddie Vedder, who bonded with at that time, people didnt ask us things like, What
Maines through her activism for the now-freed West do you think of gay marriage? If they had, they would
Memphis Three. A fan of her huge, emotive voice, have learned how liberal I was. But I was so confused
Harper made a deceptively casual offer of studio time. by who people thought I was and what I had been
They began recording, with Maines cutting sessions putting out there.
short to help her kids with homework. An album Afterward, she started acting out. There was a part
began to take shape, one that reveals her to be on par of me that was like, Oh, this isnt OK? Fuck that. I
with the likes of Adele, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonc didnt know the cat was in the bag, but it felt so good
as a pure singer. I think she recognized my genu- that the cat was out of the bag. Then I definitely just
ine enthusiasm, just to hear her voice soar again, went, Oh, really? You dont like that? Well, how about
says Harper. Im not a producer Im a songwriting this? Not only do I not like this president, I love gay
steel-guitar player. There aint but probably three people! And Im pro-legalization of marijuana and all
people left alive Im gonna stop my life for to produce drugs! Yeah, let me blow your mind.
with, and shes one of them.
Shes totally out of touch with her former genre
Maines wasnt feeling up for a lot of songwriting, so when Brad Paisley and LL Cool Js ill-conceived
the album is mostly covers (though she did co-write Accidental Racist comes up, shes unaware that
the oceanic album closer, Take It on Faith and a Paisley had written pro-Obama and pro-immigra-
couple of others). I really just wanted this to be fun, tion songs: Shed assumed he was a Toby Keith-style
she says, and there were so many songs Ive always right-winger. Either way, she really hates the song. It
wanted to sing. And that could go on forever. I could just sounds like an out-of-touch white guy making an
have a hundred covers albums. Songwriters range observation that I feel like we all made in junior high or
from Jeff Buckley (she successfully takes on his slip- high school, Maines says. And then for LL Cool J to
pery vocal showpiece Lover, You Shouldve Come go along with that? Its very bizarre.
Over) to Vedder.
That brings up a larger complaint. I just didnt like
On the title track, from Pink Floyds The Wall, Maines how blatant country music was, she says, laughing
mines new melodic, emotional and political depths again. Nothing seemed poetic or subtle. Nothing
from a familiar tune. I think its great, says Roger could be interpreted two different ways! Its all very
Waters, who wrote the song. I get goosebumps just spelled out. James Taylor can write Fire and Rain and
talking about it. Hes pleased to hear that Maines tell you its about a mental institution, this and that
was inspired to cover it after hearing his rendition on and you listen to it, and youre trying to decipher it all.
his currentWall tour which Waters follows with a And, you know, a country song would be like [sings
speech about the slippery slope to tyranny. How twangily], Im in a mental institution!
cool is that? he says. More power to her. Mother is
proving to be a big hit in the rock-legend demograph- Maines hasnt seen her two bandmates since last July,
ic: Maines has gotten word that Eric Clapton loves it when they played a private charity show in Greenwich,
and gave a copy to George Harrisons widow, Olivia. Connecticut. They exchange texts regularly, but she
hasnt met Robisons new baby. The Dixie Chicks last
Harper and Maines never discussed genre: The public performance was a year earlier, at an Austin
words rock, or country, or soul...none of that ever benefit for wildfire victims. Everyone around Maines
came up, says Harper. But as co-producer, Maines says their brief performance at the show which
knew exactly what she wanted it all to sound like, even featured acts from Willie Nelson to George Strait to
singing melodies for guitar solos and bass lines and the Avett Brothers was a triumph, but thats not
she was quite certain that she never wanted to make how Maines remembers it. Shes fixated on the fact
anything resembling a country album again. I cant that the tickets didnt quite sell out. I feel like we are
listen to our second album, she says, referring to the tainted, she says. I dont know if we put a tour up, if
16
people would come. (Renshaw says hes quite con-
fident they would.) Shes open to more tours, though
not precisely enthusiastic about it. Its not where my
passion is, she says. But I dont dislike it, either.

Maguire and Robison have long wanted to make


another Dixie Chicks album, and Maines admits she
may be breaking their hearts a little. That was a lot of
what I had to work out in therapy, too, because you do
become this unit and you do feel an obligation, she
says. Theres not being inspired, but theres also just
not having the life to facilitate that right now. We have
nine kids between the three of us. You know, Martie
and Emily probably have more time to themselves
whereas I dont. And I cant go to Texas and make a
record. I dont think they can uproot and come here
to make a record. Shes not sure they could agree on
a musical direction either.

Still in her hiking outfit, Maines is sitting in the bright


dining room of Farmshop, a farm-to-table restaurant
in the faux-rustic Brentwood Country Mart, where her
neighbors Ben Affleck, Reese Witherspoon are
frequently spotted by paparazzi. The photographers
usually leave her alone, and today she even has to wait
a bit for a table. Shes just glad that, unlike when she
lived in Texas which she and her family left for good
eight years ago she doesnt have to worry about
someone spitting in her food. I was afraid to go plac-
es, afraid of what people were thinking about me, she
says. In L.A., I just felt I was among my people.

When we finally get a table. Maines sips coffee and


starts talking about Taylor Swifts ability to walk the
line between country and pop (Lets see what they
do to her how she is in 10 years), about Bruno Mars
(I love his voice is he gay, straight?), about turning
down a crappy opening slot on a package tour she
wont name (It doesnt have to be about the money,
but I want it to at least be fun). Then she starts diss-
ing musics biggest awards show: When the Oscars
are more edgy than the Grammys, its pathetic. Its
just a big commercial. No side boob? I mean, oh,
my God. She almost stops herself. Ill get myself
banned from every genre of music, she says, offering
a wicked smile. Then she keeps right on going.

17
Section 4:
Your Students
As Actors
Reading A Scene
for Understanding,

ACTORS
Practical Aesthetics,
Scene Analysis, Mini-
Lesson Vocabulary

18
Actors should remain
truthful to the story
and their character.
- David Mamet, American playwright
& noted actor, William H. Macy,
Founders of Atlantic Theater Company
The following activities are designed to
assist your students in understanding
the actors job. Like every job, even
acting has its tools.

The Practical Aesthetics acting


technique was developed by David
Mamet, William H. Macy and the
founding members of the Atlantic
Theater Company. This technique
offers the actor a set of analytical
tools to understand the playwrights
intentions and what the characters
want. This process of script analysis
additionally helps define the
actors job on stage.

19
Teacher Objective Practical Aesthetics Exercise
To introduce the Practical Aesthetics tools
for breaking down a scene. To understand Step One
the character and the story of the scene by Divide the students in pairs. Ask
relating the characters actions to the the students to select which
students own life. character they want to portray.
Student Goal Step Two
To understand that an important part of Allow the students time to read the
creating a simple, honest character involves scene silently to themselves.
knowing what that character wants.
Step Three
Materials Ask the students to read the Introduction
Pens, pencils, copies of the following scene to the Practical Aesthetics Acting
from Hold On To Me Darling, and copies of the Literal, Technique sheet on page 22 and
Want, Action, As-If worksheet and/or Mini-Lesson. answer the four questions on the
Scene Analysis Worksheet.
Note: The four questions and the
students answers to them form the
basis for the Practical Aesthetics
scene analysis; and enables the actor
to create a simple, honest character
theyre simply being honest to their
own experiences!

Step Four
After the students have completed
the question worksheet, ask each pair
of actors to read the scene in the front
of the class room for an Audience.
The students should incorporate the
ideas from the worksheet as they
read the scene.

20
Strings Whore you?

Essie Im Essie.

Strings Essie?

Essie Your cousin Essie? Second cousin, twice removed?

Strings Youre my cousin Essie? (She nods.) Youre that little skinny girl
used to run around here like a chicken with her head cut off?

Essie Yes I am.

Strings Well, my God you done growed up.

Essie Yes I know.

Strings I never would have... Hows your Daddy?

Essie Im afraid my Daddys passed away, Cousin Strings.

Strings Cousin Bob? When did he pass away?

Essie Last year.

Strings Well my God, I never... How in the... Well, I surely am sorry to


hear that, Essie.

Essie Thank you.

Strings I cant understand why nobody told me.

Essie I did. I wrote you a letter.

Strings You did. Well where did you send it?

Essie I sent it to you at the ranch? Same address as what your poor
Mama gave me...

Strings Well I wonder why I never got that letter...

Essie Your assistant sent me a card.

Strings My assistant. Oh you mean Jimmy?

Essie He said you passed on your deepest condolences.

21
ANALYSIS: Script analysis is the process of breaking As-If
down a beat within a scene. We ask four questions In this step, the actor personalizes the action
in order to do this. by finding a real-life situation in which they
would behave according to the action they have
1. What is the character literally doing? chosen for the scene.
2. What does the character want?
Example: Get a favor.
3. What is the essential Action?
4. What is that action like to me? It is As-If Its AS-IF I forgot to do my science
homework and Im asking my teacher
for an extra day to hand it in.
Literal Purpose: To gain personal insight and
In this step, the actor determines what the character he urgency to the scene or beat.
or she is playing is literally doing according to the text.
Tactics & Tools
Purpose: An actor has to travel farthink of this
Different ways an actor goes about
preparation as the road map.
getting his action.
Want Example: Plead, flirt, demand, inspire,
In this step, the actor identifies the goal of the character challenge, level, threaten.
in the scene, specifically what the character wants
from the other character/s in the scene. The given Living in the Moment
circumstances of the story inform the WANT. Reacting impulsively to what the other actor
in the scene is doing, from the point of view
Purpose: To focus the actor on the characters interaction. of the chosen action.

Action
Playing an ACTION is the physical pursuit of a goal.
Defining the ACTION of the scene allows the actor
to determine what result or CAP he or she is looking
for from the other actor/s in the scene.

Examples:
Put someone in their place.
Beg someone for forgiveness.
Get a favor.
Get someone to let me off the hook.
Force someone to face the facts.
Inspire someone to greatness.
Get someone to see the light.

Purpose: Using an action gives the actor a task and


a specific point of view. The Atlantic Theater Company
teaches that the Action creates character.

22
Mini-Lesson Vocabulary Acting Tactics & Tools to Use in The As-If Step

Literal: The process of accessing the basic


story-line of the characters in a particular
scene or beat.

Want: The process of identifying the goal Laughing to get what you want
of the character in a scene or beat.
Teasing to get what you want
Action: The actors physical pursuit of a
specific goal. Testing to get what you want
Threatening to get what you want
As-If: A way to determine what this action
means to me. Pleading to get what you want
Flirting to get what you want
Bartering to get what you want
Bribing to get what you want
Begging to get what you want
Crying to get what you want
Demanding to get what you want
Leveling to get what you want
Inspiring to get what you want
Challenging to get what you want

23
Here are your tools for understanding your character:

If youre playing ESSIE... If youre playing STRINGS...


What is my character Essie is literally talking to
Strings about the losses and
Strings is literally talking to
Essie about the losses in his
literally doing? changes that have trans- family about which he did
pired since they last met. not remember.

Essie wants Strings to know Strings wants Essie to


What does my that its okay for them to remind him of the family life
character want? comfort each other as fami-
ly in this time of mourning.
that he has since left
behind.

To get someone to take my To get someone to let me in


What is the action Im hand. on a secret.
going to play?

Its as if my best friend has Its as-if my guidance


The As-If... just broken up with her boy- counselor were, for some
friend and has fallen into a reason, withholding infor-
deep depression. I need to mation from me about my
assure her that everything GPA. I need to find out this
will be okay, or else our information in order to apply
friendship will suffer. to college and the deadline
is approaching.

24
Section 5:
Your Students

ARTISTS
As Artists
Creative Response,
Activity, Creative
Writing Activity,
Challenging The
Plot, Common Core
& DOE Theater
Blueprint

25
Create your own work.
- David Mamet, American playwright
& noted actor, William H. Macy,
Founders of Atlantic Theater Company
The following activities will assist your
students in understanding themselves as
artists creating original work that connects
with their own experiences and world.

Lon ilson,
n)
erga
enn s, CJ W
eth
b
Lyo Nob
n, K
enn eith
nt, J to R: K
Oly ow L
pha
othy Back R
(
ens Foster
, Tim
.
e C hron R
lem
Ade redit: A
laid
C
il Pe oto
: Ne ng. Ph
pe,
li
w L e Dar
to R
M
ron On To
t Ro
oga of Hold
n; F
atha ative
nH
Jon t & cre

26
Cas
Teacher Objective Step One
To develop Critical Thinking skills through examining a moment in Hold Divide the students into pairs, asking
On To Me Darling and how to relate that moment to an individual creative them to read the final scene of Hold On To
response. Me Darling on the next page.

Student Goal Step Two


To understand that a critical moment from Hold On To Me Darling forms Ask students to break down the scene
the truths and messages of the play. using the Atlantic Acting Technique on
page 22.

Literal
Want
Action
As-If

Step Three
Ask students to divide into pairs to break
down the scene.

Step Four
Ask students to share their choices/
insights on the scene, and discuss the
variations of those choices.

27
Strings Well... what is it?

Mitch Its my scrapbook of course. Now, its not entirely complete, but
Ive tried to keep up.

(He opens the scrapbook and shows Strings)

See, this is your first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. 1991.
You wouldnt believe it, but you looked a lot like I did when I was
about that age... Here you are the second time around. That was
the big one, of course... Then we got the concert tours, album
covers, or CD labels or whatever you call em now. I know it
dates me but theres something I preferred about the old LPS,
and those big cardboard sleeves... Theres that Rolling Stone
cover, first Rolling Stone cover... Thats Strings McCrane at the
Royal Albert Hall. Now that was a wonderful concert. I bought
the video of that one soon as it come out. Often imagined
someday Id get to see you perform live, but something always
held me back. (Strings is flipping through the album)

Dont have to look through the whole thing of course... Thats


you and Eminem.

Strings Well this is from last month...!

Mitch Thats right. One of my kids got that off the computer for me...

Strings You mean to tell me you been keepin this up from 1991 all the
way through last month?

Mitch As best I could. (Becoming self-conscious) Its just a little scrap-


book, of course... I wonder, Clarence, if it wouldnt be too much
trouble if youd sign it for me?

Strings Sign it for you...!

Mitch If you dont mind.

Strings What do you want me to say?

Mitch Anything you care to. You can just sign it right here, across the
front. Got a pen right here...

(Strings writes something)

Strings Best Wishes. Strings McCrane. Well. Thats real nice,


Clarence. Thank you. I appreciate it.

(He puts away the scrapbook)


28
Teacher Objective Step One
To develop critical thinking skills and emotional literacy through Write the names of all the characters on
examining the characters in Hold On To Me Darling and how they relate the board and go through them with the
to a students own experiences. students so they remember who is who.

Student Goal Step Two


To understand connecting the vivid details of an artistic experience to Instruct students to write a letter as if they
ones own point of view stimulates individual imagination and are one of the characters. They should
confidence. take on the persona of another character.

Materials For example: Jimmy writes to Strings


Pencils, pens, writing paper, chalkboard. explaining why being a part of Strings
world is important to him.

Step Three
Encourage students to ask questions, to
offer advice, to share their true feelings
about that characters choices, etc. Really
allow students to think freely.

Step Four
Ask the students to share their letters for
constructive feedback and discussion of
the themes and issues of the play.

29
Teacher Objective Option One
To develop critical thinking skills by challenging the plot of Each student writes their own
Hold On To Me Darling. perception of what happens between
Mitch and Jimmy, starting from right
Student Goal before Strings father reappears.
To understand that examining a story backwards and forwards, you can
see that each event was caused by something that happened prior, but Option Two
by examining it forwards, there is no way of knowing what can happen. In pairs the students create their own
alternate ending, starting from the
Materials following beat:
Pencils, pens, writing paper.
Strings: Oh, Daddy . . . Its too late . . .

Mitch: No it isnt, son.

Strings: Yes, it is, its too late . . . !

Mitch: Dont cry, Clarence. Dont cry. Ill


thank God Almighty every day for the
rest of my life He gave you back to me. Ill
thank him every day until the day I die.

Follow-Up
Ask the students to share their scene
between Mitch and Jimmy.

Ask the students to consider how Mitch


and Strings relationship looks five
minutes later, two days later, and a month
later.

Allow the students to arrange their scene


in chronological order to show the
evolution of Mitch and Strings
relationship.

30
Enduring Understanding
Theater conveys the significance individuals place on
the pursuit of their identity.
Theater conveys the meaning behind an individuals
struggle to have his or her life choices validated by
family, friends and society/community.

Essential Questions
Do the direction and staging seem to embody and reinforce
the themes of celebrity vs. anonymity?

Do you accept the concept put forward in Hold On To Me


Darling that celebrity can interfere with an individuals
personal life and relationships? Why or why not?

Strand Benchmarks
Theater Making: Acting

Benchmark: Students increase their ability as imaginative


actors while continuing to participate as collaborative
ensemble members. Students demonstrate the ability to
reflect on and think critically about their own work.

Theater Making: Playwriting/Play Making

Benchmark: Students refine their ability as playwrights


to express point of view and personal vision.

Developing Theater Literacy

Benchmark: Students develop skills as critics by


analyzing the critical writings of others.

Making Connections through Theater

Benchmark: Students demonstrate a capacity for


deep personal connection to theater and a realization
of the meaning and messages of theater.

Working with Community and Cultural Resources

Benchmark: Students invigorate and broaden


their understanding of theater through collaborative
partnerships with theater professionals.

31
Inspired by the Group Theater, Stanislavsky, and a
passion for ensemble acting, David Mamet and William
H. Macy formed the Atlantic Theater Company with
a select group of New York University Undergraduate
drama students. Since its inception in 1985, Atlantic
has produced more than 100 plays and garnered
numerous awards, including: 12 Tony Awards, 15 Lucille
Lortel Awards, 16 OBIE Awards, six Outer Critics Circle
Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards, three Drama League
Awards, three New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and
the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Noted productions include:
Spring Awakening, Port Authority, The Lieutenant of
Inishmore, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Boys Life,
and American Buffalo. The Atlantic Theater Companys
mission is to produce plays simply and truthfully,
utilizing an artistic ensemble. Atlantic believes that
the story of the play and the intent of its playwright
are at the core of a successful theatrical production.

The Atlantic Acting School fosters new generations


of actors by passing on the tools learned from Mamet
and Macy and by preparing students for all aspects
of a career in film, television and theater. The Atlantic
offers studies through New York University, a full-time
conservatory program, part-time programs and
summer workshops. Atlantic for Kids offers acting
classes in an after school setting as well as summer
programs for children ages 4 to 18.

Linda Gross Theater


336 West 20th Street
New York, NY, 10011
Atlantic Stage 2
330 West 16th Street
New York, NY, 10011

76 Ninth Avenue, Suite 537, New York, NY 10011 atlanticactingschool.org atlantictheater.org 32