Favorite Quotes Vol. XXXIII: They don’t fall down.

The audience at Godspell on Tuesday was treated to a talkback by Stephen Schwartz himself, who told great stories about everything from the origins of the Elphaba Theme in Wicked to why he won’t tell you what his favorite song in his own catalog is.

And in the midst of all that, plus a few juicy stories that he made the entire audience promise not to tell, he gave the attendees these words of wisdom when asked if he faced any obstacles in his career climb:

“Did I face any obstacles?  It’s a business of obstacles, actually.  It’s nothing but obstacles.  And that makes it hard.  How do you deal with it?  Well, you gotta be . . . a weeble.  Remember those?  Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”

Half the audience was too young to know what a Weeble was.  But if you know what Stephen was talking about, then boy oh boy is this quote right on the money.

No one is numb to an obstacle, whether it’s a bad review, a deal gone sour, or just something that didn’t turn out the way it was “supposed to”.  If you weren’t affected by those things, if they didn’t make you wobble, well, you wouldn’t be human, and you wouldn’t have feelings, and if you don’t have feelings, well, then, the theater is the wrong place for you, because you can’t succeed without ’em.

But you can’t let the obstacles knock you all the way down.  Just rock back up, like Stephen said, and live to wobble another day.

 

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Favorite Quotes Vol. XXXII: Why Smash is great, whether you like it or not.

It must be close to the end of the scholastic year, because I’ve gotten a few more emails than usual from high school and college students (including one from China) asking me for quotes or looking for answers to questions for the end-of-term papers about Broadway and Off-Broadway.

My favorite one came from a young man who lives in the great state of Texas, and it went something like this:

“My name is Elijah and I am a theatre student at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. We are currently doing a project on theatre jobs and I chose to do mine on the job of a producer because I’ve been watching too much Smash.”

As I wrote about in this blog from 2009, one of the great effects of dramatic entertainment is its ability to inspire.

And hopefully, Smash will continue to inspire young men and women like Elijah to learn more about producing . . . and maybe they’ll find out they like it . . . and want to do it.

Because the more people we have producing, the better our business and the better our art.

 

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Favorite Quotes Vol. XXXII: If a Producer was an animal, what would it be?

Tiger1One of the most fortunate accidents of writing this blog is that I get a lot of email from theater lovers and theater “doers” from all around the world.  It’s a wonderful reminder of how many people all over the globe love the theater, and how important it is.  In my darkest moments, when I think that someday the theater will vanish in the same way Julie Taymor makes the water vanish in The Lion King, I remember guys like George Michael (no, not the singer, and no, not the Arrested Development character), who is a playwright and Artistic Director in . . . India.

George emailed me recently asking for some advice and wondering if I’d look at his material.  What George didn’t know, and what many of you may not know, is that my Dad was born and raised in India.  So I’ve got a soft spot for all things Indian, including, yes, Bombay Dreams (the star of BD is actually appearing in a reading of a new musical I’m doing this week).

George wrote me a very passionate email (theater folks have one huge thing in common – passion), but it was one quote that I really enjoyed that I wanted to share with all of you.  Granted, we’re dealing with some translation issues, and some great metaphor, but I couldn’t resist.

Take it away, George Michael.

“A theatre man lives like a tiger and dies like a tiger, which will not eat the grass even after great starvation.”

I mean, I’m not even quite sure I understand it completely, but I love it anyway.

Grrrrrrrr . . .

 

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This blog is for all the nervous parents of theater majors out there . . .

. . . and here’s a spoiler . . . I didn’t write it.

The blog was emailed to me by about three people . . . and I have a rule, whenever three or more people give me the same comment about anything, a show, a restaurant, or even a friend, I take heed.

Before I get to that blog . . .

There’s a Dean of Drama at a university who makes a speech on orientation day for incoming freshmen and their jittery parents, who are afraid their children will end up waiting tables for the rest of their lives instead of taking the road more followed and becoming a doctor or . . . ick . . . a lawyer . . . or something just as “safe”.

The Dean gives it to them straight . . . and tells them how a very small percentage of their graduates actually end up working in the theater.  Just when half of the parents are about to demand tuition refunds, he goes on to read some of the other gigs that they got instead.  Some were politicians, salesmen, and some, even, were lawyers.

The blog that I didn’t write, but am linking to below is called 10 Ways Being A Theatre Major Prepared Me for Success . . . and it reminded me of that very smart Dean.

A lot of people out there think that theater training is a joke.

Well, I got news for those ignorant folks.  We live in the biggest theater of them all, and we are just players.

Sure, we theater majors may not be able to perform surgery . . . be we can still get straight to your heart.

Read the blog here.

 

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Favorite Quotes Vol. XXXI: Let Shakespeare entertain you. Let him make you smile.

I talked to an angry author a couple of weeks ago, who was irritated that his “important” play had not attracted a wider audience.  I tried to explain in the nicest of all possible ways, but like his play, I also failed.  Then I stumbled upon this quote from Robert Greene’s book that summed it up so much better than I ever could.

“Shakespeare is the most famous writer in history because, as a dramatist for the popular stage, he opened himself up to the masses, making his work accessible to people no matter what their education and taste.”

It’s like a comedy of errors that Shakespeare is considered one of the great geniuses in the history of the written word, when his primary objective was to entertain. Obviously his work went way beyond making people laugh, cry and get angry, but he never let any message get in the way of the entertainment.  His plays are like a perfect cake – with delicious and beautiful frosting on the outside, but underneath is where the real buttery goodness begins.

Writers today who forget why people go to the theater in the first place and put message first run the risk of having less people hear their voice.  There’s nothing wrong with that style, of course.  It’s the choice of the artist.  But you can’t complain when no one comes.

The quote also made me wonder . . . 500 years from now, who will be considered a Shakespeare?  Stoppard?  Sorkin?  Stephen King?

What writers today will be remembered tomorrow for their “baking” ability?

 

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