All the Worlds a Stage

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“Mr. Reeve it is terribly important you become a serious, classical actor…Unless of course they offer you a shitload of money to do something else… – John Houseman

All the Worlds a Stage Educational Film

Copyright MCMLXXV (1975) by Pyramid Films – Christopher Reeve was at Juilliard 1973 – 1975

The film follows the progress of 3 young people from their first audition for acceptance to the Juilliard School’s drama division through their disciplined training to become professional actors. In reply to questions from director John Houseman, the 3 tell what led them toward acting careers as the visuals show their early experiences in school plays and acting games. Scenes at Juilliard the show their training in speech, breath control, mask classes, improvisation, body movement etc. Comments by students and instructors reveal the purpose of and results expected from each of these classes. Finally, we watch the 3 in performance in scenes from A Month in the Country, Hostage, and Romeo and Juliet.

Group 4 at Juilliard’s 1973 to 1975

As prophetic as the words above would become for the earnest young actor, it’s another well-known fact that everybody has to start somewhere. Thankfully, due to the recent discovery of a long-thought-lost dusty old film can we have been afforded a fleeting glimpse of the man who would be Superman in training.

Indeed, the time capsule that is “All The World’s A Stage” (produced by Pyramid Films) served as a wholesome po-faced drama school educational film back in 1975 but could easily be mistaken for a public-film mockumentary today. The focus of the piece may be the three fresh-faced students accounts of the trials of becoming a professional actor but its the environment that captivates – In this case a voyeuristic look into the private studio space of the famous Juilliard Conservatory of New York.

For in the background of these energetic classes – years before Alan Parker would dramatise such things in Fame – among all the hopefuls lurks a floppy-haired stringbean listening with intent and performing with an intensity all his own. While the students forming the focus of the story may well have never broke into the big time, the unmistakable visage and intensity of Christopher Reeve is already apparent in what may be his first brief appearances on camera.

Of course it would only be months until Reeve would be revealed to the world in his first paid gig on US TV (soon to star in the soap opera Love of Life ) but as training grounds for future comic-book heroes go, it would appear that Juilliard was among the elite, spawning both Superman and Popeye in its early years, With a Batman and members of the X-Men coming decades later.

Both Reeve and Robin Williams would later acknowledge the lasting influence of founding director John Houseman (seen dominating proceedings during the audition process) in speeches for various awards, with Williams’ impression becoming synonymous with the name and Reeve’s career defining advice. Ultimately, Reeve’s ‘something else’ would be to define the Man Of Steel for a generation and beyond, making the unearthing of this archive footage chronicling his humble beginnings all the more special.
Martin Lakin