Marian Seldes on Geraldine Page

geraldinepagemidsummer

Geraldine Page made me think that I had no business at all being an actress. I would see her on the stage and I would think, What am I doing? Who am I to think that I might someday be an actress? I remember seeing her in a play called Midsummer. No one remembers it or should, but she had a moment in that play that utterly changed my life–as an actress, certainly, but also as a woman, a mother, a human being. Her character is coming home from work–back-breaking work in a restaurant–and she has a sad bag of leftover food, food that she needs and wants, but her children are awake, and they are hungry, and they need it too, and so she opens the bag and mournfully passes the food to her children. I could feel her regret and her sacrifice passing this oily meat and stale bread to her children, but when they pounced on it and giggled and showed satisfaction, her entire body glowed with pride. She was providing for her family; she was important to them; she mattered. Her tired, slow body was reinvigorated, and she could barely contain her love for these children. It gave me the chills; it gives me chills now. It was extraordinary, and she carved this character and this moment out of a play that meant very little else. She was unafraid to go deep into a character and study the most basic and private needs, and then display them for us. Over the years, in so many different things, she made me think of Laurette Taylor, another actress who humbled me and enlightened me, and made me want to be a better actress.

From a conversation in 2000

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