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Gil CatesLinda LavinSamantha MathisDennis Doty

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

From Stage to Screen
Gil CatesThe largest concern in transferring the play to film was not to let the air out of the play. Frequently, there is a sense that you want to open the play up -- you want to go to the classroom where Ruth is teaching or you want to go out with Samantha and her friends. Donald and I thought about that a great deal and felt that would be wrong, that what's amazing about the play is the relationship between these two women.

      Model of Collected Stories Set

EnlargeModel of Collected
Stories Set

 
We did open up the apartment, so that it has a bedroom , a kitchen and a bathroom, in which we play scenes in. And we did go outside for sequences in the play. Essentially, though, the construction of the play is represented as a film and I think it's the film's strength, because it's condensed.


 
It's interesting that when you talk to actors about the difference between acting in a film and acting in the theater. You get one school who will say it's the same, only a question of doing it smaller, smaller, smaller, while another group will say it's entirely different. Each has their own process, but at the heart of it is truth. Whatever the scale of the performance, if it's not rooted in believability, it turns sour.

The Characters
My first impression of Ruth was that I knew her. I was Dean of the School of Film & Television at UCLA for eight years, and I knew people like Ruth there. Very talented, very gifted, very capable, yet they have big personal holes in their lives. When someone comes along who can fill that, they are susceptible to it, as Ruth was.

Linda Lavin as Ruth
 
     
[On why Ruth is so irascible] It's hard to think of going through life as an academic for 40 years without being a little prickly. Teaching is very very difficult work. And if you are an artist who writes and teaches at the same time and you go through so many years of callow youths who don't develop into the extraordinary talents that you see in them initially, it can be disappointing. And you do tend to suffer fools badly.

     Samantha Mathis as Lisa
 
I adore Lisa. I actually identify with her in the sense that she's given a set of rules with which to play and she goes ahead and plays by those rules. She doesn't consider how these rules affect who she is as a person. It's like football -- those are the rules of the game. If you are going to be a writer, you just write, and you take material where you can, and that's what she does. At the end of the movie, I don't think Lisa realizes what she's done. She is convinced that Ruth gave her the story, told her to do anything, write regardless of who gets hurt, and that's what she did. She took Ruth's advice.  [ Next Page ]

 
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