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Two Part Invention

Madeleine L’Engle

“Perhaps the most important thing I learned is that the artist is not separate from the work and therefore cannot judge it. Some nights Miss Le Gallienne would come drooping back to the dressing room. ‘I gave a terrible performance this evening. I couldn’t get the audience to respond to a thing.’ Almost invariably when people came backstage after such a declaration, an old friend would cry out enthusiastically, ‘Eva, that was the best performance I’ve ever seen you give. You were superb.’

On other evenings she would come bounding in. ‘Oh, it went well tonight! I had them eating out of the palm of my hand!”‘ Almost invariably Thelma, the stage manager, who was an old friend from the Civic Repertory Days, would knock on the door, poke her head in, and ask anxiously, ‘LeG, are you all right?’

We do not know and cannot tell when the spirit is with us. Great talent or small, it makes no difference. We are caught within our own skins, our own sensibilities; we never know if our technique has been adequate to the vision.”

—Madeleine L’Engle, Two Part Invention