continued Sullivan teaches subtexts "little bit by little bit." Actors who have done the work, like Robards, dig a deep pool for their character. Once they've filled in the pool, they walk away. They can dip into it for acting choices: to show "a side, a layer, a reversal or contradiction, a deepening."
The pool remains, but specific choices must change. One of the hardest things to teach, says Sullivan, is letting choices go. Onstage, actors must react to what's happening this second. "How they express subtext has to change from night to night. It's woven into their reactions and words. A choice that worked one night could poison the next. This is hard to teach and one of the most exciting things about theater."
Sullivan loves to quote Frank Langella (who can make this statement, she says, "because he knows his subtexts"): "I have a sense about acting in the theater: there is no right. There's only the truth. Each night is a different night. Each night I bring all sorts of things I didn't have the night before. I don't believe in hanging on to moments. I don't believe if something works beautifully on Tuesday you should try to recreate it on Wednesday. The point to me about acting is it's a moveable feast."