SALZBURG, Austria (Aug 13) — “One of the problems for us all is that we are not, and cannot often be aware of what’s going on that the camera hasn’t focused on,” said Academy-award winning actress Vanessa Redgrave in a conversation to an audience of students attending the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, a program jointly led by the Salzburg Global Seminar, in Salzburg, Austria, and the International Center for Media & Public Agenda at the University of Maryland, College Park. “Courage comes partly from a feeling that you really are expressing something that is the truth.’
Speaking with students and faculty from five continents and fifteen countries, Ms. Redgrave drew connections between the responsibilities of an actor and those of journalists. “When I was told today about the main fundamental ground on which these courses in which you’re all taking part are based—Media and Global Change—I immediately remembered the Latin slogan that flew on the flag above Shakespeare’s Globe Theater… Totus Mundus Agit Histrionem. ‘All the world moves the actor’ is actually what I think is the direct translation, as opposed to ‘All the world’s a stage.’ All the world moves the actor, by which can be considered not only the professional actor, but the individual—the individuals who find themselves in the world.”
Ms. Redgrave came to the Salzburg Academy on the morning of her last of three performances during the Salzburg Festival of Joan Didion’s play “A Year of Magical Thinking.” The powerful and acclaimed hour and a half-long play, in which she is the only actor, is staged without intermission. The Festival itself is noted for being one of the world’s most spectacular venues for opera, theater and music and Redgrave has been one of the stars of the month-long series of events.
The hour that Ms. Redgrave spent talking and taking questions from students and faculty found her musing on her decades-long career as an actor, an ambassador for UNICEF and a human rights activist. She called on the students in the room to speak out for what they believed is important—but to do so while considering their own biases and assumptions: “We certainly have the capacity to be independent thinkers. And of course we can be more independent as thinkers and as human beings if we are capable of examining our most fervently held beliefs, and seeing them in this changing world,” she noted. Actors, as well as journalists, needed to commit to such a rigorous self-reflection. “The whole point of theater is of course to—and I say ‘of course’ because I didn’t once realize this—but it is actually to help us examine ourselves. Not saying ‘they’re wrong,’ ‘we’re right,’ but to examine ourselves.”
For more on the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change and a full list of the partner universities, visit http://www.salzburg.umd.edu