"An unprepared director who comes to rehearsal not fully prepared is a disaster. Don't depend on improvisation.... Like a conductor of an orchestra, you have to know your instruments and how they work and what can they do. Otherwise, the musicians will find you out. And so will the actors."
About This Interview
In his over three-hour Archive interview, David Pressman (1913-2011) recounts his arrival in the U.S. from Russia in 1922 and his early interest in acting. He talks about acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in the 1930s and his entrance into WWII in the early 1940s (he describes returning home from the war, and what it was like to see the Statue of Liberty from a porthole on his ship.) He discusses the Actors Studio that was created in 1947, which he described as a gym for actors, and details the live prestige ABC television drama series Actors Studio featuring emerging talent at the time. He recalls appearing as an actor in the very first production of Actors Studio and then becoming one of the series' primary directors. Pressman discusses the process by which the productions were staged and directed for television, lists the writers, performers, and other talent who worked on the show, and tells how the series struggled for sponsorship. He outlines the excitement of working in live television and talks about other anthology series he directed. He then chronicles his struggle to work as a director in television under the shadow of the Hollywood Blacklist. He explains how he ultimately switched careers to teaching until the end of the Blacklist, and eventually returned to television, notably as an Emmy Award-winning director of the daytime serial One Life to Live. B-roll consists of photos of Esso Repertory Theater, Prudential's On Stage, the CBS control room during a production of The Play's the Thing, and Pressman's appearance as an actor in a small role on One Life to Live. Pressman also shows off his daytime Emmy Awards and talked about receiving them. Karen Herman conducted the interview on July 27, 2004 in New York, New York.