by Jerome Robbins
Barbra: Some Notes
Consider Her: A tug-of-war goes on in all departments.
The kook's looks are ravishing. Her beauty astounds, composed of impossibly unconventional features. Her movements are wildly bizarre and completely elegant. Her body is full of gawky angles and sensuous curves. It scrunches, elongates and turns on in spotlights. Her El Greco hands have studied Siamese dancing and observed the antennae of insects. She flings gestures about, sprinkling the air with outrageous patterns, but every movement is a totally accurate composition in space.
Her cool is as strong as her passion. The child is also the Woman. The first you want to protect; the second, keep. She comes on with defiant independence —yet communicates an urgent need for both admiration and approval. She laughs at sexiness. She is sexy. She tests you with childish stubbornness, impetuosity and conceit, concedes you are right without admission, and balances all with her generous artistry and grace. Fighting is fun; losing, a camp; winning, the best.
At Rehearsal: An untiring, tenacious worker.
She is jet-fueled with the robust, all-daring energy of an ambitious theater novice, which is tempered by the taste, instinct and delicacy of a sensitive theater veteran. At rehearsals, she often arrives late, haphazardly dressed in no-nonsense clothes, her hair shoved up under a cap. She accepts the twelve pages of new material to go in that evening's performance and pores over them while schnorring part of your sandwich and someone else's Coke. She reads, and, like an instantaneous translator, she calculates how all the myriad changes will affect the emotional and physical patterns, blocking, costumes, exits and entrances, etc. When she finishes reading, her reactions are immediate and violent—loving or hating them—and she will not change her mind. Not that day. During the rehearsal, in her untidy, exploratory, meteoric fashion, she goes way out, never afraid to let herself go anywhere or try anything. Nor can she be pinned down. And in the few hours' rehearsals, she has probed into and examined what she must do, but what will happen onstage is being studied behind her eyes and in her nerves. That night onstage, in place of the messy, grubby girl, a sorceress sails through every change without hesitation, leaving wallowing fellow players in her wake.
She always surprises. Her performances astound, arouse, fulfill. When she sings, she is as honest and frighteningly direct with her feelings as if one time she was, is or will be in bed with you. The satisfaction she gives also leaves one with terrible and pleasurable hunger. For what will become of this woman? She is still unfinished. Where will she go and what will she do? With all her talent and radiance, glamour, uniqueness, passion and wit and spontaneity, she is still forming. There is more to come, things will change, something will happen. The next is not going to be like the last; she promises more and more surprises. Thus she adds the special mystery to her already extraordinary gifts and achieves the true sign of a star. She is one of those very rare and fascinating performers who spellbind and then irresistibly pull you on to find out what will happen in the next moment, the next act, the next play.
This sphinx-enigma will change and alter—metamorphize. You will want to know her future, where her youthful talent and success will take her and what her life will become. She will tell. She is alike on and off the stage.
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