Broadway Grosses w/e 4/28/2019: Off to the Races

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 29, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

100 Quotes Every Theater Producer, Playwright, Director, Actor, etc. Must Read

I love a good quote.

They’re what start me up in the morning.  Even more so than coffee.

See, a few years ago I started writing good ones on my whiteboard in the AM so I would stare at them all day long.  They’d keep me going, even when things weren’t going well.  (You can check them out here.)

I’ve put together quite a quote collection since then, and I thought I’d curate all my faves about the theater and put them here with the hope that they’ll inspire all of you Theater Makers out there to. . . well . . . make more theater.

Because as I’ve said, I believe the world is a better place if there is more theater in it.  So I hope just one of these inspires you as they’ve inspired me.

  1. “Movies will make you famous; Television will make you rich; But theatre will make you good.” -Terrence Man
  2. “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes
  3. “The theatre is as essential to civilization as safe, pure water.” – Vanessa Redgrave
  4. “Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.” – Martha Graham
  5. “Live like you’ll die tomorrow, work like you don’t need the money, and dance like nobody’s watching.” – Bob Fosse
  6. “Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.” – Willem Dafoe
  7. “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
  8. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
  9. “The play is not in the words, it’s in you!” – Stella Adler
  10. “The mission of the theatre, after all, is to change, to raise the consciousness of people to their human possibilities.” – Arthur Miller
  11. “You should feel a flow of joy because you are alive. Your body will feel full of life. That is what you must give from the stage. Your life. No less. That is art: to give all you have.” – Anton Chekhov
  12. “Nothing in theatre has any meaning before or after. Meaning is now.” – Peter Brook
  13. “The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.” – Denis Diderot
  14. “It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.” – Tina Fey
  15. “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce
  16. “Unless you learn how to be in your head, you’ll never learn how to create.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
  17. “You’ve gotta be original. Because if you’re like someone else, what do they need you for?” – Bernadette Peters
  18. “Overcome the notion that you must be regular. It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary.” – Uta Hagen
  19.  “Happiness was useless to me.  It was heartache that filled my purse.  What happy man has need of Shakespeare?”  – Jennifer Donnelly
  20. “Don’t let form become more important than the substance of your heart and mind. Don’t let commerce determine what you do exclusively.” – Avery Brooks
  21. “The power of art can break the shackles that bind and divide human beings.” – Daisaku Ikeda
  22. “Don’t compare your career to anyone else’s. It’s tough when you’re in a business that’s competitive. I was having a difficult time with that in college. Now, I’m having to learn to be patient and be where I am.” – Danielle Brooks
  23. “We all deal with failure. If you’re lucky enough to have a long career, it’s part of the experience.” – David Henry Hwang
  24. “The arts make a bridge across this world in ways that nothing else can.” – Julie Andrews
  25. “You gotta have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” – Oscar Hammerstein II
  26. “Everyone has literature inside of them.” – Anna Deavere Smith
  27. “Success is like failure. It’s how you perceive it. It’s what you do with it, not how you achieve it.” – Stephen Sondheim
  28. “There isn’t anything I wanted to do that I haven’t. At the same time, there isn’t anything I’ve ever done that I didn’t want to do better.” – Richard Rodgers
  29. “Always give them the old fire, even when you feel like a squashed cake of ice.” – Ethel Merman
  30. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
  31. “I believe in serendipity, but I also believe there are times when you have to be the one who lines up everything so it can fall into place.” – Susan Stroman
  32. “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare.” – Walt Disney
  33. “Everyone deserves to have their story fully told.” – Dominique Morisseau
  34. “Laughter is much more important than applause. Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward.” – Carol Channing
  35. “Work hard, do the best you can, don’t ever lose faith in yourself and take no notice of what other people say about you.” – Noel Coward
  36. “Write what you feel. Write because of that need for expression.” – Dorothy Fields
  37. “Don’t accept that others know you better than you know yourself.” – Sonia Friedman
  38. “If you’re not invited to the party, throw your own!” – Diahann Caroll
  39. “Don’t expect a pat on the back for merely doing your job, but know that you’ll get one for doing it exceptionally well.” – Lea Salonga
  40. “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare
  41. “Don’t try to be anyone else but yourself, because you are singular, and your greatest asset is your individuality.” – Sutton Foster
  42. “You can’t get it right all the time, but you can try your best. If you’ve done that, all that’s left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them.” – Idina Menzel
  43. “All of the challenges will make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew.” – Cicely Tyson
  44. “It all starts with self-reflection. And then you have to be brave. You have to figure out how to articulate what your dreams are.” – Glenn Close
  45. “Not everyone is going to like what you do or what you have to offer; however, if you can’t see yourself doing anything else, and you have the drive and ambition, get the training and go for it.” – Kristin Chenoweth
  46. “Somewhere in our DNA we know  that stories are out there to help us understand what we’re doing here on this planet.” – Theresa Rebeck
  47. “You have to stop yourself from even thinking about failing.” – Julie Taymor
  48. “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo
  49. “Victories aren’t born on the field. You create them during practice – day in and day out.” – Silvia Pencak
  50. “Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Paulo Coelho
  51. “Theater and storytelling has the power to change lives.” – Liesl Tommy
  52. “Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect!” – Aryn Kyle
  53. “If you act brave, you can seem brave, and if you do it enough, you can take yourself into believing you’re brave.” – Kelli O’Hara
  54. “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut
  55. “All you can do is do good work, and do the good work for the sake of doing good work and your evolution as an artist.” – Audra McDonald
  56. “Do you know what a playwright is? A playwright is someone who lets his guts hang out on the stage.” – Edward Albee
  57. “You can’t judge your success by someone else’s. You can’t be afraid to fail.” – Patina Miller
  58. “Don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t know how to dream.” – Liza Minnelli
  59. “If there’s a story that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
  60. “All one needs to write a story is one feeling and four walls.” – Doris Betts
  61. “Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.” – Wayne Huizenga
  62. “Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” – Claude Debussy
  63. “You’re worse than decent. You’re virtuous.” – Eugene O’Neill
  64. “He who seeks shall find.” – Sophocles
  65. “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” – P.T. Barnum
  66. “If you want to honor your craft and yourself, strive for the nobler instincts.” – Patti LuPone
  67. “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you don’t utter.” – James Earl Jones
  68. “Be yourself… And shoot for the stars. Obviously dreams really do come true.” – Laura Osnes
  69. “Don’t wait for people to tell you who you are. Show them.” – Laura Benanti
  70. “You just have to be open and ready, and let it all happen.” – Angela Lansbury
  71. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland
  72. “You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.” – Barbra Streisand
  73. “At the end of the day, give up your worries and  give thanks for the journey.” – Ben Vereen
  74. “I am not here to change the world. I am changing the world because I am here.” – Lisa Wilson
  75. “Time goes on. So whatever you’re going to do. Do it. Do it now. Don’t wait.” – Robert De Niro
  76. “You never know how far you’re gonna go if you don’t jump.” – Robbie Fairchild
  77. “You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.” – Sierra Boggess
  78. “The path to moments of greatness in your life will be paved, in part, with your spectacular failures.” – Leslie Odom Jr.
  79. “From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.” – Aeschylus
  80. “Everybody has their own path. But with conviction and discipline you can make anything happen.” – Sonya Tayeh
  81. “Learn how to take the worst situation and let it be the catalyst for our undoing, which is then our transformation.” – Eve Ensler
  82. “It’s good to remember… so you know you need to do now, so you know that you ain’t got forever just right now…” – Tarell Alvin McCraney
  83. “Be bold. Envision yourself living a life that you love. Believe, even if you can only muster your faith for just this moment, believe that the sort of life you wish to live is, at this very moment, just waiting for you to summon it up. And when you wish for it, you begin moving toward it, and it, in turn, begins moving toward you.” – Suzan-Lori Parks
  84. “There are no shortcuts to hard work.” – Adrienne Warren
  85. “Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” – Sean O’Casey
  86. “There’s always doubt and fear. If you’re a human being, everybody’s got it.” – Keala Settle
  87. “The artist’s role is to raise the consciousness of the people. To make them understand life, the world and themselves more completely. That’s how I see it. Otherwise, I don’t know why you do it.” – Amiri Baraka
  88. “Master your craft, empower yourself, and enjoy the journey.” – Denise Simon
  89. “If you’re going to go for a thing, there’s no point unless you’re going all the way.” – Cynthia Erivo
  90. “If you gauge how you’re doing on whether somebody is responding vocally or not, you’re up a creek. You can’t do that; you kind of have to be inside of your work… And tell the story every day. Tell the story. Tell the story. Regardless of how people are responding, tell the story.” – Billy Porter
  91. “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” – Paul Robeson
  92. “Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone’s disbelief.” – August Wilson
  93. “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” – James Baldwin
  94. “He knows not his own strength that has not met adversity.” – Ben Jonson
  95. “Nobody knows what you want except you. And nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it. Wanting some other way to live is proof enough of deserving it. Having it is hard work, but not having it is sheer hell.” – Lillian Hellman
  96. “Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.” – Ossie Davis
  97. “Don’t wait for something big to occur. Start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.” – Norm Lewis
  98. “In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.” – Miguel de Cervantes
  99. “Never do but one thing at a time, and never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” – Lope de Vega
  100. “Sometimes you will meet yourself on the road before you have a chance to learn the appropriate greeting. Faced with your own possibilities, the hard part is knowing a speech is not required. All you have to say is yes.” – Pearl Cleage

 

5 Things we can all learn from the “drama” on The Voice.

I consider myself a pretty early adopter.  I was one of the first folks on an iPhone, which snagged me this commercial (!), I bought stock in 3D printers and Salesforce before they were a thing (unfortunately, I sold waaaay too soon), and I knew Kristen Chenoweth was going to be a superstar when I saw her in Steel Pier. 🙂

So, if I’ve got such a good spidey sense, how did I miss The Voice?

It took me being in Mexico with limited TV options (CNN, non-stop telenovelas, and the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore movie Blended on loop) for me to stumble onto The Voice . . . and get hooked . . . like Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are hooked on doing mediocre movies together.

Certainly, I was aware of the show.  But it looked complicated.  I was never an Idol fan.  And I was over the reality TV craze.

So why have I now started DVRing this sucker and playing the “Battles” on repeat in my office?

There are 3 things that The Voice has that keeps me entertained which we should have in all of our dramas . . . on TV or not.

Here they are . . . with a nod to another reality show in calling them all “Factors”:

  1.  The Underdog Factor Underdogs stories are what audiences love.  From Rocky to Elphaba, the hero that faces more challenges than most makes it easy for us to root for them.  The Voice starts with “unknowns” getting a shot at their big break, but the show takes it one step further.  By making the first audition “blind” and only about the “voice,” they get singers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds, and most notably not what would usually come out of a record producing factory.  It’s timely.  It’s important.  And you want these folks to succeed even more.
  2. The Suspense Factor Mark Burnett ain’t no idiot.  He knew that he couldn’t just do another Idol and have it work.  He had to find ways to make his show unique.  Sure, there was suspense in finding out who won every week, but that’s what Idol did.  To give the audience something they haven’t seen before, Mark added “steals” and “blocks” for its coaches, adding another level of suspense to the story.  And suspense is everything.  Keeping your audience wondering what is going to happen next is a surefire way to keep them watching.
  3. The Contest Factor Contests and competitions make for easy dramatic story arcs.  The objective of the hero is easy.  He/she/they want to win.  Everything he/she/they does through the “story” is about achieving that simple objective. In the end, they win . . . or lose. Adding this kind of arc to any drama gives it a better foundation to build on top of.  Why do you think so many documentaries are about contests?  Or think Spelling Bee If you can’t make your story an out-and-out literal competition, you can still think about your show like one.  West Side Story . . . Tony wants to win the hand of Maria (and vice versa), despite some stiff competition.  May seem simplistic, but it works.
  4. The Positivity Factor Everyone was sick of Simon Cowell.  Everyone is sick of the negative news cycle (even The Weather Channel participates in this craziness).  It’s easy to spit nastiness, but at the end of the ‘play’, people want joy in the entertainment, and that is what The Voice is all about.  There are no judges.  There are coaches.  And they all support and encourage, even for the folks who are not on their teams. Plays can get away with a little more “darkness,” but a musical needs a ray of sunshine at the end and a bit of hope to take out in the streets.  It’s why musicals were invented in the first place . . . to help our audiences forget about their troubles and “come on, get happy.”
  5. The Audience Participation Factor This one isn’t new, by any stretch, but having the audience vote for the winner (and now by App!) keeps your audience engaged, as we know.  But what’s different today than it was 120 years ago is that audiences no longer want to be involved in the story in a different way, they need to be involved.  Leave them out, behind a fourth wall, and they will leave you out of their to-do list. Of course, not every show needs to have an audience vote, or bring them on stage, or even have an immersive design.  But modern day storytellers should remember that today’s audience, and more importantly, tomorrow’s, have grown up being a part of their entertainment (through video games, reality TV, etc.) and we’ll need to figure out how to do the same.

Do you watch The Voice?  Any reality TV?  Anything you think we can take away for what we do?

Comment below.

In the meantime, go Rod Stokes!

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Broadway Grosses w/e 4/21/2019: Broadway Shows are Bloomin’

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 15, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Does the definition of “emerging artist” mean young? And should it?

 

Whenever I hear three separate people musing about the same subject, whether that’s a show, a song, or even a stock tip, I pay attention. Because it means something’s up.

And just this week, three folks in our industry were questioning what the Talent-Hiring Decision Makers in our biz meant by the term, “Emerging Artist,” . . . and if that was code for “Young Artist.”

The first to clue me into this topic was the uber-intelligent playwright and advocate, Julia Jordan, who chatted with me on my podcast about her fascination with the industry’s fascination with young writers… Since being a writer isn’t like being a Hollywood actor, you don’t need a face and a bod to write a killer play. And ironically, the more years a writer has under his, her, or their belt, the better that writer is going to be!

The second was a member of my PRO community who was told straight to his middle-aged face by someone at a certain awards-giving institution that he wouldn’t get one because he was too old. Gasp!

The third was another “average-aged” writer who said he couldn’t get a meeting with a certain agency because they said they were looking for “new” talent. When he said that he had just started writing five years ago, so he couldn’t imagine being any newer than that . . . he didn’t get a response.

So what’s the deal? Do we have some ageism going on when looking for “new” writers and directors?

Julia did hit the nail on the head when she talked about the world’s fascination with the youth. And in other industries it makes sense . . . pro athletes need to be at their peak physical shape, so there’s no surprise that we focus on youth there.

And look, “new” will always be a great driver of interest to anything (adding “new” to marketing copy always gets more interest from a consumer, by the way, so why should an Artistic Director, Agent, or Producer be any different?). But since most writers don’t produce their greatest work until later in life (until they’ve lived a few lives and, frankly, just practiced the craft more), shouldn’t we be more focused on finding more mature writers?

And if you think the above is a generalization, check out this stat:

The average age of all Nobel Prize Literature Laureates* between 1901 and 2017 is 65 years. The youngest was Rudyard Kipling at 41.

Fascinating, right?

The counter argument is a super valid one. Should the prizes, grants, awards, and industry be focused on younger writers because they may not be in the same financial position as someone who is further along, and therefore they need the assistance more? Should we give a boost to those who need it most so that they will go on to be the Laureate that they might not be if they don’t have the help?

What do you think?  Have you experienced agism either way? Do you think younger writers make better writers or that they need the support more than someone with a few more decades under their writing belt?

Let me know in the comments below.

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