4 August 1938 / Burma

An unexpected letter arrived today by elephant. Again, that Harvey Blinkman at RKO Pictures is requesting a screen test. We met only briefly at one of Susan’s parties, merely shook hands in passing, yet the man is convinced I’m the answer to Warner Bros. domination at the box office. He’s probably right, but am I ready to perform again?

Acting has always been nothing more than an accidental hobby of mine. The last time I took the stage I was stepping in for a friend who had been mauled by his apartment lynx. The show was called “Pennsylvania Frenzy!” and the role was of a smoldering farmhand who exuded a raw dangerous sexuality. I was delighted to suddenly be a part of the special community that is a theater company, a place where everyone works and sacrifices themselves for the sake of art. As an actor, everything takes a backseat to character. It isn’t what you want. It’s what the character wants. It’s not how you would react. It’s how the character would react. For Pennsylvania Frenzy, I had little time to prepare, and therefore I had to improvise lines and blocking in accordance to the character’s description and let everything else fall into place. Ultimately, the audience was ill-prepared for my interpretation of raw sexuality and many of them couldn’t stop throwing up. But there was a certain thrill to that night, as we all knew we were witness to something new, something important. Yes, I was merely a witness too, as again, the character was more in control than I was. I can’t imagine acting in front of a camera would feel the same as on stage. The immediacy of it all would be missing… the energy, the electricity in the air, all the retching noises, all gone. And yet, I’m curious. I’ll have Harvey arrange a screen test in Calcutta when I’ll pass through in the coming months.