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Unlike most articles on Britannica. Rather, they are presented on the site as archival content, intended for historical reference only. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Cornelia Otis Skinner, American actress and author who, with satirical wit, wrote light verse, monologues, anecdotes, sketches, and monodramas in which she displayed her versatile and distinctive acting skills. Skinner made her first professional stage appearance with her father, the tragedian Otis….

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More About. MAY 29, I suddenly felt as though my life has been lived like a man from the press. LeCompte and Gray also informally split off on their own and worked on dramatic pieces together.

While there, he had a nervous breakdown. His downward emotional spiral would continue as he traveled from India to Amsterdam , where he became physically frail and consumed by a fever.


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I began to drink beer and smoke a lot of cigarettes. I was not treating myself well and felt like I was on a self-destruct spiral. I could not will myself to leave Amsterdam and spent days and nights wandering the streets obsessed with Bali and Greece. I could not make up my mind. America or Bali or Greece. I started to get overwrought and just plain crazy.

Spalding Gray’s Tortured Soul

He was very aggressive, and he made love to me like I was this beautiful woman. I had never experienced such a complete giving over before. Then I found out that Liz was coming to Amsterdam. I was so happy she called and rushed to meet her at the airport bus station. I was out of control. I acted crazy or was crazy. I told her about the homosexual experience. Her advice to me was to go back to America with her and try to work things out there. I decided to do this, but by the time I got to the airport, I was a nervous wreck.

For much of the flight, Liz did not even know I was on the plane. I sat in the back and did not speak to her. The flight seemed an hour long. I really did not care if it crashed.

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My will was nonexistent. I was letting myself be thrown from situation to situation. Liz took care of me. She brought me through. She stuck with me and was always there for me. I got into therapy once a week with a psychiatrist, and he had me on tranquilizers. The hypermanic activity soon changed to deep depression , and I slept about 18 hours a day. I was diagnosed as hyperkalemic and was put on a special diet and given megavitamin therapy. That, combined with my seeing the psychiatrist, brought me back to a condition where I was able to work.

I also began to have an affair with a young woman. Looking back on it, I see myself as being totally destructive to Liz. It seems like she brought me through all that so I could run off with another woman. And this is where it gets all confusing for me; this is where I stop being able to write about this experience. I feel guilty about this betrayal. I feel I used Liz. I feel I punished her for caring for me. I punished her for loving me.

What New York Does to You

I resented her for helping me. I have no distance on it. JUNE 25, I feel as lost and desperate as the summer in Provincetown when I got out of college, not knowing who I am and ready to grasp at anything. Should I be this or that, here is what presents itself.

Spalding Gray | American writer, monologuist, and actor | Britannica

So what comes into my head is wanting to sell myself. Questions as to whether they were well suited romantically had already arisen for both of them. She went on to develop what became her theater company [the Wooster Group ], and I went out on the road with the form of theater I chose to develop, the autobiographic monologue. LeCompte also met someone else: a year-old actor from Wisconsin named Willem Dafoe , who joined the Performance Group in And yet there was never a definitive split between Gray and LeCompte. It was more of a slow, relatively agreeable drift into friendship.

In the journals, Gray observes LeCompte as she gravitates toward Dafoe romantically — at times with the chaotic sense of someone losing his center but other times with the affection and distance of a brother. They put up a wall with a door in it, dividing the apartment so LeCompte and Dafoe were in the front and Gray was in the back. The door was left unlocked, and the three of them shared a bathroom.

View all New York Times newsletters. After rehearsal, Liz invited Willem back to the loft, which made me kind of angry. I just did not feel like having him around. Liz and I went to see Irish ballet. The music was nice, but we could not stand the dancing. We got home about , watched Gore Vidal on the Cavett show, had another spat about Willem and what we should do. I see her treating him like a boy, like a child. Liz is a mother, and she nurtures well, and then she moves on.

In a way, she has nurtured me through the big crisis of birth after India. She got me on my feet for my own work — 12 years, a very long slow painful birth. Now I see that Willem needs her, and she responds to that need like any good mother. If I could see this more clearly. The most I can give her is to let her go. I put it in motion as much as she did. We are all in this changing water together. I like Willem, but it is difficult for me to listen to him talk. I like him for his natural way of existence. I think he is very good for her. A big part of me wants to see it work.

I want her to be happy. The old problem of doubt back on me again. Do I really have something to say, or is it Liz who is saying it just like Richard? I want them to want me. Another time of confusion for me. Willem going away brings it all up again — not so much the glamour but a theater for the people — working on the BIG American myth — repulsed by my subjectivism. I am stuck in this constant doubt. This doubt does not have a crack to seep into when we all work together, but now Willy has made a crack in the boat. Have Liz or I or both of us been working under the grand illusion that we were individually artistic in temperament and that would not dry up even if there was no group supporting us?

I would not know. I have to face what more seems to be the truth — that I could only love Liz to the extent that she was incorporated into ME, my work, my fears. Now I must be strong and take a good look at it. I feel like a lost child again, but before, I had my youth to go on, and now I only see loneliness and old age and then I think — let go of it all — just give up on human love and put it all into ART; and when I think that way, it all looks barren.

I feel like I will die without Liz.