In a November conversation, McSweeny introduced actor Ted van Griethuysen to students as “legendary,” but he was quick to define the term differently: “It means you’re very old.” (Van Griethuysen and McSweeny collaborated several years ago as actor and director on a one-man tour-de-force production of Hamlet, celebrating the actor’s 80th birthday.)
Van Griethuysen’s talk to the S&P community distilled a lifetime of world-class theatre work, including 30 years at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C., and studies at the University of Texas, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Yale, and the stages of New York City. He is known as one of Washington, D.C.’s most beloved performers.
“This,” he said, with a gesture that referenced the Blackfriars, the audience, and the university, “is the theatre. Right here. It is a place you come to learn, to find out, to try new things. Show business is a commercial enterprise that uses the theatre to make money. You will have to dabble in both.”
Both Van Griethuysen and Harrow led masterclass sessions with S&P students as part of their visits.
“To work with them, to have the opportunity for one-on-one feedback on my own work, that’s priceless,” said DesBois.
Harrow gave students text-based guidance for their early-stage scenework in the small-scale MFA productions of Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night. Van Griethuysen shared insight into his favorite play, Hamlet, especially on the interplay of opposites.
“All beauty, whether natural or created, is in the making of opposites,” he said. “The nature of reality is essentially beautiful. That’s what art shows us.”
Jack DesBois MLITT ’20 contributed reporting for this story.