There’s an old adage that doing “what you know” is the fastest way to success.
And I believe it.
If you have knowledge of a certain area, a certain character, or even a certain culture, working within that box is where you’re the most comfortable and therefore where you’ll be the most naturally effective.
But that may not be the fastest way to grow as an artist.
That’s why I encourage myself and others to produce what they don’t know. Write what they don’t know. Perform what they don’t know nuthin’ about.
It’s working within new genres, with different people, and with subjects that make you uncomfortable — or that you’re just naive about — that will teach you the most, and make you a more powerful theater maker and more well-rounded human in the process.
In other words, work outside your culture zone.
That’s why Deaf West’s Spring Awakening was one of the most incredible personal and professional experiences of my career. If I hadn’t produced that show, I would never have had a conversation with a deaf person. And that has changed my life. And I will treat others differently as a result.
That’s why Once on This Island with its diverse cast had such an impact on my life.
That’s why I’m producing the revival of the unfortunately-still-timely Pulitzer Prize-winning The Great White Hope (hopefully on Broadway next season – with a little help from the Theater Availability Gods).
That’s why this khaki-pants and blue-blazer wearin’ New England boy is producing a musical based on the life of Entertainer and Activist Harry Belafonte. And why I will be announcing a new musical about the Jewish experience in the next few weeks.
Honestly, I never set out to produce this way. I’ve just been drawn to great stories. But as I walked by the show posters on my wall the other day, I realized that the greatest experiences I’ve had . . . and will have . . . are the ones I knew nothing about.
So it’s now become a new mission. To do what I don’t have a clue about . . . so I can learn.
It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. And it doesn’t always make money.
But it’s also the most rewarding way to