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The Daily Tar HeelThursday, September 5, 19353 :
By FRANK BRUNI
When Greg Boyd announced last
spring semester that he would leave
UNC at the end of the academic year,
students in the Department of Dramatic
Art weren certain how to feel. Boyd's
three years as artistic director for
PlayMakers Repertory Company and
head of the M.F.A. actor training
program were in no way trouble-free,
but Boyd had steered PRC and the
drama department from relative obs
curity to national prominence. No one
knew what to expect from a new
, appointee to his position. -
The arrival of David Hammond,
however, has quelled any student
anxieties. In a matter of weeks, Ham
mond, who left an associate professor
ship at the Yale University School of
Drama to replace Boyd, has created an
enthusiastic following in the drama
department. Says Milly Barranger,
PRC's executive producer, "David has
generated an excitement among stu
dents and colleagues that wasn't evident
Hammond's specific triumphs have
been a recognition of the trouble spots
in the PRC Department of Dramatic
Art relationship and a commitment to
ironing out those problems.
One of students most persistent
complaints about Boyd was that he
cared more about the quality of each
PRC production than about the edu
cation of the M.F.A. candidates who
formed the core of PRC. The result,
Boyd's critics charged, was an uneven
distribution of leading roles, a produc
tion schedule that considered the
company's existing strengths more than
the educational needs of its members,
and a shallow commitment to class
"For all his wonderful directing
talent, Greg at least by the time I
got here wasn't seriously interested
in the training program," says Ben
Cameron, PRC's literary manager for
the past year. "With David, the training
is the most important thing and the
productions will grow out of it. He's
exactly what the program needs."
Sources in the drama department say
that Hammond has already promised
each third-year M.F.A. candidate a lead
in one of the six PRC productions this
academic year. He will only direct two
of these Droductions so that he can
An eirsiwhMe medMojidenDi makes good
building reserved for student-produced,
"David's committed a lot of support
to us," says Steve Maler, a junior drama
major from Orlando, Fla. Maler says
the general feeling among undergrad
uates is that Hammond will be more
accessible than Boyd, whom undergrad
uates perceived as indifferent. "David's
been so wonderful, so responsive," says
Maler, who will be the assistant director
for Alexander Ostrovsky's The Storm,
the second production on the PRC
schedule and one of the two that
Hammond will direct.
Hammond will also direct Shakes
peare's Much Add About Nothing, the
final production of the PRC season.
Theatergoers accustomed to Boyd's
striking difference between him and
Boyd. "I want the theater to be an
outgrowth of the training," he says. "I
want the work we do in class to become
the work the audience sees on the stage."
By FRANK BRUNI
Arts Editor .
David Hammond is sitting in his office in an isolated corner
of the Graham Memorial building, struggling to pin down
what, precisely, the experience of directing is like. Suddenly,
his eyes mist, his voice softens to a whisper and a wide
smile steals across his face.
"It's just thrilling," he stammers. "It's It's magic. I love
actors. I love working with them. I just had this wonderful
class; everybody in it was so alive"
As he describes the class, his words begin to run together
and his voice trails off into reverie. Gone is the intimidatingly
articulate man of only seconds ago; in his place sits an
exuberant little boy.
Simply put, David Hammond loves his work. After 13
years in educational theater two at the Juilliard Theater
Centre, seven at the American Conservatory Theater in San
Francisco and four at the Yale University School of Drama
he is as content in his profession as ever. As the newly
appointed artistic director for PlayMakers Repertory
Company and head of the M.F.A. actor training program,
he brings to UNC an unfettered enthusiasm and optimism
that border on the corny. "I wake up every day eager to
do what I have to do," he says. "I wake up glad."
There was a time, however, when Hammond's work and
his play were not so closely wedded. Although he had taken
acting classes at Manhattan studios throughout his
childhood, he entered Harvard University a biology major
intent on following his father's footsteps into the medical
profession. "I always assumed that I would be a doctor,"
he says. "My image of adulthood was that you became a
Still, Hammond's heart was elsewhere, and by his
sophomore year he was growing restless. He recalls an organic
chemistry experiment that required the student to watch a
liquid boil for six hours. "I turned it on to boil and went
out to see Gone with the Wind," he says. "Something was
definitely making itself known."
His pre-med requirements completed, Hammond switched
majors to English literature midway through his sophomore
year. The new course of study afforded him time for the
theater and slowly chipped away at his determination to
become a doctor. When it came time to apply to medical
school, he chose New York University because, he says, "I
figured if I was going to med school, I might as well be
in Manhattan, where I could see lots of plays." As it turned
out, he decided not to go to medical school but to study
directing at the Carnegie-Mellon University Drama School
Immediately upon his graduation from Carnegie in 1972,
Hammond was invited to teach acting at Juilliard, where
his first class included William Hurt, Christopher Reeve and
The newly appointed artistic
director for PRC brings to
UNC anunfettered optimism
that borders on the corny.
Mandy Patinkin. Two years later he moved to the ACT.
There he directed a list of plays that reads like an anthology
of history's greatest drama and garnered awards from various
California critics circles. His reputation was such that for
three years, Yale tried to lure him back East. In 1981 Yale
succeeded, and Hammond joined perhaps the nation's most
prestigious theater program.
How, then, was he coaxed into coming to Chapel Hill?
Actually, geography played a large part. At the time word
went out late last fall that PRC was looking for a new artistic
director, Hammond was somewhat disenchanted with Yale's
location. "Any city is nicer than New Haven," he says.
"Besides, I had been mugged earlier that fall and it wasn't
helping my frame of mind one bit."
The clincher was the contrast in climates he noticed when
he flew to Chapel Hill last February to see PRC's PlayFest
85. "I left New Haven in the middle of a blizzard," he recalls.
"I got off the plane in North Carolina and the sun was
shining, the flowers were blooming and people were
apologizing for the long winter."
Of course, none of that would have mattered had he not
been so impressed with PRC and the UNC Department of
Dramatic Art. "I liked the student actors immensely," he
says, adding that they in no way suffered by comparison
to his Yale pupils. If the theater world at large doesn't
currently mention the two schools in the same breath, "They
will," Hammond assures. "They will."
So far, he says, so good. In fact, so far, so great. He
pauses, and in the few seconds between his last sentence
and his next one, the transformation from self-assured
aesthete to enraptured youth occurs once again.
"I had a really good week," he says. "In a class yesterday,
we did four new exercises. Four new exercises! In one class!
We started doing one thing, but then I saw that another
exercise might work better, and we ..."
avant-garde, anachronistic renditions of
devote mtY6Cinstru& cnVxpecna'changd of
.quality ot which wiiqjeinaQcea yo r.pace irom nammona, wno, according
a larger graduate faculty with specialists
in movement and voice.
"My first goal is to make the school
superb, and from that, to evolve a great
theater," says Hammond. "It can't work
the other way around."
Part of Hammond's scheme to
improve the school involves giving
undergraduate drama majors a more
integral role. To that end, he has
reserved the post of assistant director
on each PRC production for under
graduate applicants. . He has also
promised undergraduates that he will
attend all shows mounted in the Lab
Theater. The Lab is a space in the
basement of the Graham Memorial
to colleagues, treats texts in a more
"Greg had a very special approach
which 1 call imagistic," says Barranger.
"David is more interested in the
language of the text."
Recalling the punk garb and Talking
Heads score of Boyd's Measure for
Measure, Cameron says, "Greg always
left his signature on a play. I tend to
think David's productions will have a
greater 'period -fidelity' to them. He
won't be as interested in flagrantly
violating historical perspective."
What currently interests Hammond
most, however, is not directing but
teaching, and that is perhaps the most
arents need correcting, too
his getting upset with you, I'd set
him straight immediately. There's no
excuse for it. Good luck. .
By STEVE AUSTIN
Dear Steven: My parents often
make the mistake of calling my
fiance, Jay, by my ex-boyfriend's
name, Richard. I can understand
their confusion to some degree, as
they're quite elderly and often get the
names of their own children and
grandchildren mixed up. But Jay is
fed up with them, and I can't say
that I blame -him. He won't say
anything because he's afraid of
Hurting their feelings, so he's begin
ning to take out his frustarations on
me. This is not a life or death
situation, but I'd like to take care
of it. Any suggestions?
Name It, 111 Try It
Dear Name: He won't be out of
line if he politely corrects them each
time they make a mistake. You can
do your part by using his name
whenever possible. Go a little over
board with it if you have to. As for
Dear Steven: Summer vacation is
right around the corner, and this year
I'd like to go to Europe. Should I
go it alone or take a. guided tour?
What countries should I visit? Can
you suggest a good book I can
Dear Eastbound: Ask your friends
to recommend a good travel agent.
As for a good book to consult, I'd
say your checkbook is the best bet.
Copyright 1985 by Steven J.
Austin. Got a problem, question or
comment? Write to Steven the
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