Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - May 20, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
IO Tin* Odar Rapids Gazette: Mon., May 20. 1974
Mostel Old Hand at Contradictions
By William Glover
NKW YORK (AI*) - Zero Mostel acts. Zero Mostel paints. Don’t, however, call him an actor who paints — “the one Ilium has nothing to do with the other.”
On the other hand, Zero Mostel doesn’t care what people think just because he posed nude in a bathtub with an unclad nymph for one of thus stud magazines.
“I don’t give a damn about images,’’ he asserts, with all the intensity of his behemoth being. “I’m not a snob about those things
“How can you be any kind of an artist if you worry about images .’ The vast regions of cherubic face fracture into an impish grin
Zero Mostel, of course, is an old hand at such apparent contradictions. Ifs helpful to remember two things. He once thought briefly about becoming a psychiatrist, and he is an ardent addict of the writings of .lames Joyce. Influences that both can point one toward free-form, stream-of-cons-
Broadway's sparse drama supply has in recent weeks been somewhat abated by Mostel’s appearance in “Ulysses in Nighttown". an
excerpt from the noted Joyce novel.
The impressive, funny-sad portrayal earned a Tony award nomination for the 59-year-old actor who already has three of the coveted silver medallions.
He was in a triumphant off-Broadway version of tin' once-banned book 18 years ago, but felt it could be done even better in today’s totally permissive milieu
“You feel a responsibility, there s nothing unite like it in any language — a treasure trove Joyce got into mind of characters in a way no one else has "
Zero claims to have read the mammoth volume IOU times, and hasn’t stopped finding fresh nuances
“This is what theater should be about,” he says, taking a swipe at “pipsqueak musicals or plays that should be on TY
“People always want to understand everything about ‘Ulysses’ Why’’ Great works of art you don’t understand so easily. How can you explain a mountain by Cezanne? It s a creation. This is a creation."
Mostel interrupts himself in mid-sermon to notify the visitor that this studio where he endlessly paints and which at the moment is throbbing to a four-loudspeaker outpouring of
Theater Time Schedule for Monday
IWK WUU XT - "K«\v Brown” — 7 40. 9:30.
IOWA — “The Great Gatsby” - I JU. 3:55. 7 IO. 9 35
WORLD — “The Sting” — I 5(1. 4 15. 8:55, 9 30; shorts — I 3(1. 3 55. 8:30. 9 05
TIMES - “The Twelve Chairs” — I 50 3:40, 5:30. 7:20. 9 20; shorts - I 40, 3 25. 5 15. 7 05, 9
PLAZA — Newman s Law” - 7:30. 9 35 STAGE I — “American Graffiti” — 7 45. 9 50
STAGE 2 — “Godspell” — 7 40. 9 IM
STAGE 3 — Night at the Opera” — 8, “Big Store" — 9 40
STAGE 4 - “The Way We Were’’ — 7 30. 9 45
BASTOW N I - “The Exorcist” - 7:15. 9 30
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TWIN WEST - “The Teacher” — 8 40, “The Young Graduates” — IO 45; “( lass of 44 ” - 12 30
TWIN EAST - “Deranged — 8:50; “Sisters” — 111 30
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Beethoven, used to be the home of an earlier era’s clown giants. Weber and Fields “This was Tin Pan Alley,” he vaguely indicates Manhattan’s wholesale flower center. “In my old studio George Gershwin once played the piano I had to move because the place got too small I think I need about five floors."
Paints Every Day
Mostel lightly heaves himself away from the tuna salad and zero-cal cherry pop for a tour of the cluttered sanctum “lf I don’t paint every day I go crazy I don’t kid around and I don’t want to paint like anybody else.”
At 13, he was drawing portraits of his rabbi father — “you could even see the cataract He was ejected from one art academy for turning an exercise in geometric planes into a game of tic-tac-toe, but later found a more sympathetic teacher Now his pictures get as much as $11,999 at auction, but he long since moved away from strictly representational art and is so turned off by verisimilitude that there are no photographs in his home, not even of Kate, “the tough, good dame’’ who has mothered two sons and been his wife for 311 years
’Lots of Closeups’
“I always start realistic, always with live models. Then ITI turn the real around, superimpose figures, fragment bits, then some idea comes to
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be and I try to get something out of it.” lh' works in assorted mediums, always with music for background, classic and full. “I hate rock ”
Although another artist convinced him not to sell pictures, he’s torn by economic reality “It s terrible to equate paintings with money." He gave up a youthful notion of a career iii psychiatry because “only rich people can afford that kind of care. ’’
When not on stage, at his easel, or darting off somewhere around the globe for an art museum sightseeing orgy, Mostel performs in movies Reluctantly.
“I don’t think they know what to do with me,” tie says of film directors. “They’re shot crazy, lots of closeups Most of the things they make are terrible. They’ve got to back off a little from us My whole thing does it, not just the eyes.”
He won a stage prize for “Rhinoceros”, but the current American Film Theater incarnation chills him to his considerable marrow
“I don’t think (director) Tom O’Horgan knew what he was doing. He didn’t trust the material."
Directors in general don’t impress the star who never took an acting lesson in his life.
“Those blip-blip-blip-big guys have been poisoned by the Stanislavsky method without understanding it. I hate the whole mumbo-jumbo ritual.’’
Iii defiance of proper preparation tradition. Mostel naps for an hour before going
;4 SHOWS Z; : *f :
oil stage instead of warming up his voice or getting into the essential mental state “I never memorize, I let the part lay in me.” At times he tias been accused of varying widely iii an interpretation from night to night Sternly denied
“Braque said — a picture is completed when you’ve
eradicated the original conception.’ I’m a great believer in that. Eradicate what you did before, that’s spontaneity The substance is the same but it has a different spirit I don’t want it to become a dull, monotonous repetition. I can’t play like a machine.”
An editor once told him he could he a good writer. He rejected the suggestion “because I got too many things to do.” And there is never going to be an autobiography -“Cd lie too much.”
"This is what theater should be about,” says Zero Mostel of James Joyce s Ulysses”. The actor amply demonstrates his thesis on Broadway, where he is appearing in “Ulysses in Nighttown”, an excerpt from the Joyce novel.
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