David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Acting and Actors, Activism

Acting and Actors

• Early in his career, actor David Niven received a bad review for his performance in the movie Dodsworth. He had the review framed and hung it in his bathroom: “In this picture we are privileged to see Mr. Samuel Goldwyn’s latest ‘discovery.’ All we can say about this actor is that he is tall, dark and not the slightest bit handsome.”

• Actress Ellen Terry once dumped the contents of her heavily filled pocketbook onto a table as she searched for a note she wanted to give to Harry Fiske. Mr. Fiske surveyed the contents of the purse, then asked, “No slingshot?” Ms. Terry replied, “No slingshot.”

• An actor in Nude with A Violin asked the playwright, Noël Coward, about the motivation of his character. Mr. Coward replied, “My dear boy, forget about the motivation. Just say the lines and don’t trip over the furniture.”

Activism

• In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street protest against corporate greed took off and Occupy protests spread around the United States. One remarkable photo that came out of the protests is that of a woman and three dogs standing in the deserted tundra of Alaska. The woman is holding a hand-lettered cardboard sign that has this message: “Occupy the Tundra.” The woman is Diane McEachern, a resident of Bethel, Alaska, a town of 6,400 people and one main street. Ms. McEachern, an assistant professor in the rural human service program at the Kuskokwim campus of the University of Alaska, posted the photograph on the Occupy Wall Street Facebook page with this caption: “I am a woman. The dogs are rescues. The tundra is outside of Bethel, Alaska. The day is chill. The sentiment is solid. Find your spot. Occupy it. Even if it is only your own mind.” The photo went viral. Ms. McEachern said about the protests, “When I saw that it was growing and there was Occupying Portland and Occupying New Hampshire, I thought, for goodness’ sake, what can I occupy? How can I get on this? And I thought, well, what’s my context? What’s important to me?” People in Bethel are hurting. In 2011, they were paying $6.87 a gallon for gasoline, and stove oil prices were also expensive. In addition, with the economic downturn, cuts were being made in social services to rural villages. Ms. McEachern said, “And right now, they’re proposing here the largest gold mine in human history, the Pebble Mine, that’s going to do catastrophic damage to the environment and the native community, in the premier wild salmon habitat in the world. So I’m not well-versed on the larger economic system, but I can relate to the idea of corporate wealth being lopsidedly in the hands of so few, when so many are struggling.” Ms. McEachern said she was surprised that the photo went viral: “I didn’t think anything was going to explode like this. I didn’t really quite get a clue until I opened my Facebook one morning, and there’s over 200 friend requests. I’ve got to tell you, I’m likeable, but not that likeable.” Of course, not everyone liked the photo, and some people posted negative comments. She said, “For those who ask about the [permanent fund dividend] that all Alaskans receive [based on oil revenues], I got mine and donated it to Greenpeace on behalf of Glenn Beck. To the suggestion I set myself on fire, [I wrote,] ‘I AM on fire!’”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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