To all subscribers, I am so sorry about the mixed up post that arrived early morning May 21st. It was previously deleted, incomplete text. My mistake!
To all subscribers, I am so sorry about the mixed up post that arrived early morning May 21st. It was previously deleted, incomplete text. My mistake!
On this 39th Mother’s Day since you became a mother, I am writing you a love letter. You know I love lists. So here’s a Love List!
I love you for patiently waiting 43 weeks for me to make my arrival, and for giving birth to me naturally, bravely ignoring the 12 men staring at your vagina in that teaching hospital.
I love you for rocking and nursing me in the Stickley Chair (which I now have in our living room), calmly convinced that it was normal for a baby to cry for 6 months straight. Colic. How did you survive?
I love you for introducing me to chocolate peanut butter cups.
I love you for loving lilacs.
I love you because of the way you always look me right in the eyes when I have something to say, your head perched between index finger and thumb.
I love you for saying about my spirited child: “he just has a hard time getting through his day. Like you did as a baby.”
I love you for saying “yes, and…” when everyone else said “no.”
I love you for making Fiesta Ware our everyday dishes.
I love you for raising me and Sam in Manhattan, where the nuts come from.
I love you for sending me to the Bank Street School.
I love you for flying 3,000 miles to meet my firstborn, arriving when he was a mere 20 hours old, and arranging fresh flowers in my bedroom every day.
I love you for taking G to the museum while I labored with L… and getting to meet her just a few hours later. Her middle name is your first.
I love you for showing me what marriage can be: you and Dad, after 43 years, make it look easy.
I love you for introducing me to Shakespeare.
I love you for your curried chicken salad, which is totally delicious and just a little bit weird.
I love you for showing me the value of two simple beauty products: Yardley’s lavender soap and Keri lotion.
I love you for letting me fall asleep with your nightgown on the nights you and Dad left us a with a sitter.
I love you for my annual birthday gift of a trip to the Town Shop (for real or online) for new ladythings.
I love you for the cheesy way you always say “This is God’s country!” the moment we open the car windows on the drive into Keene Valley.
I love you for finding your writing voice as a Woman of the Fourteenth Moon.
I love you for suggesting I apply to Bard College.
I love you for inspiring me to become a woman business owner.
I love you for your many scarves; I always said I’d never wear them. Now I have 14.
I love you for showing me that motherhood could be the most important job you (or I) would ever have.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!
When I work with individuals or groups on ways Theatrical Intelligence can make a difference in their lives, my goal is to stimulate an exploration into their creative core.
The term Theatrical Intelligence evokes responses such as: ”Yes! It’ll help me when I have to give a presentation” to “Not my kind of thing – don’t like being in the spotlight” or “No way. Acting? Yuck!” There is an assumption that Theatrical Intelligence = Actor.
In a theatrical production model, the Actor is what we see, but only 1/8 of what is there. She/he wouldn’t be on the stage if it weren’t for the Writer, Producer, Director, Designer, Manager, Technician and Critic. The talent and skill contained in each of these roles is interdependent, and without them, the Actor wouldn’t be seen at all!
What’s Really There
Creative collaboration requires that each person within a group takes on his/her most comfortable role, and everyone contributes to the creative potential of the collective. It is built on the premise that all collaborators’ talents and skills complement one another. In other words if I don’t have a particular strength, one of my cohorts will.
Recently I worked with a young woman who told me “I don’t have one creative bone in my body. It’s just the way I’ve always been and I’m fine with it.” She was politely annoyed that I didn’t accept her “non-creativity”. What became abundantly clear during a quick writing exercise, is that she was a born technician (the only one who could get the electronic hook-up to work); and a gifted manager (she organised a group photo while keeping large egos satisfied, and everyone ended up grateful that she was there).
When I pointed out her strengths in those roles, she explained “But that’s the easy stuff!” which gave us our biggest laugh of the day. Everyone admitted their techno-ignorance, impatience with managing differing personalities; the combination of her geeky-gift and people-management-savvy was something they longed for in their employees.
The talented young Technician/Manager took all this in, and with just the hint of a grin, said: “Well, maybe I have a couple of creative bones…”
Understanding her Theatrical Intelligence that day, she fully experienced “the fun part of being smart”. Yes, it was easy. And the smartness was all her own.
What’s “the easy stuff” for you? How much do you use it every day? Are you giving it the respect it deserves?
This article is revised from our Studio Newsletter archives in honor of World Theatre Day.
What makes someone fall in love with a theatre? I asked a bunch of theatrical colleagues to name a theatre that they love and say why they love it. Here are some responses:
“There are so many! But the one that comes to mind is THE GUTHRIE when it was being built and I was going to be playing Hamlet in the inaugural production. Tony [Tyrone Guthrie] and I walked into what felt like Yankee Stadium and I was terrified. How was I going to fill that space? Then when we walked down onto the stage, suddenly it was only half as big, and I did manage to fill it; over the years it was as if I was playing a dearly beloved instrument.” George Grizzard, Actor
“GLYNDEBOURNE, the famous Opera House in England. My husband and I had a private tour, and I stood on the stage alone and sang into the empty theater. The acoustics were incredible – I got the chills hearing my voice ring out like that… it sparked my imagination!” Melora Hardin, Actress
“THE MUSIC BOX, on Broadway. It’s a theatre of reasonable size and seating capacity, yet it manages to feel intimate. Rounded boxes flanking the proscenium are a particularly pleasing feature. It is a theatre that really helps the director.” Ed Sherin, Director
“IL TEATRO PIU’ TEATRO PICCOLO DEL MONDO (“the smallest theater in the world”) in Umbria. What a gem! It was built in the early 1800′s by the families of Monte Castello di Vibio who wanted a place for social gatherings. The mindset at the time was of concordia tra i popoli (concordance between the populations) so the theatre was named Teatro Concordia. It is a space with perfect proportions; a space where you can feel the history of elegant and probably melodramatic performances in that tiny town.” Marianna Houston, Theatre Educator
“I love various parts of many Broadway theatres: the Tiffany stained glass fixtures and wood paneling of the BELASCO THEATRE; the inner lobby of the MAJESTIC and its grand house; the ingenious combination of new and old to combine two theatres into one dazzling space as the HILTON THEATRE [ed: now the FOXWOODS]. And I want to add another gem of a building Off-Broadway, the WESTSIDE THEATRE’s building, lobby and interiors are remarkably beautiful.” Bob Reilly, Company Manager
“THE VIGSZINHAS (Vigszínház) THEATRE in Budapest, Hungary – a magnificent 19th-century horseshoe shaped house with four or five balcony tiers. The stagehouse was completely re-built, and the stage is so deep – it covers a whole city block – with the loading door smack in the middle. For Six Characters In Search of an Author the city agreed to close off the street to traffic every night one half hour before the performance, so the audience saw the cast enter from the city beyond. That 19th century magic was made possible by the 21st century rehab.” Peter Frisch, Director
“THE BARTER THEATRE in Abingdon Virginia because it’s where I fell in love with my husband of 50 years! Barter inherited the seats and the curtain from the old EMPIRE THEATRE on Broadway, which gave it a certain mystique, and by the way, probably fostered more romances than any other theatre in America!” Diane Hardin, Acting Teacher/Coach
“I love lots and lots of theatres. At the moment I love the McCARTER in Princeton because Emily Mann and everyone there is so wonderful and willing to do anything I ask.” Eugene Lee, Scenic Designer
What is YOUR favorite theatre? Please share it!
It may be an age thing. I’m in my mid-60s and loving it, my husband Roger and I just celebrated our 43rd anniversary, and our love for each other and our work has grown exponentially over the decades. When we were blessed with grandchildren 3 and 5 years ago, I thought the level of love in our family might actually burst. It didn’t, of course. In fact, it has expanded into a three-generation-love-fest.
And everywhere I look these days, I see love.
Can it be that love really belongs in this theatrical quotations series? Absolutely. Why? Because for those of us who spend our lives in the theatre, a passionate love of what we do is the common denominator within the Six Principles of Theatrical Intelligence.
Let’s take a moment to review those principles, based on the theatrical production model (as is the whole concept of Theatrical Intelligence).
1. Collaborating on a project to make it work for everyone, is number one: EVERYONE SHARES THE SAME GOAL.
2. If the show is a bust, if tickets don’t sell, no one gets paid. That’s the reality: EVERYONE SHARES AN EQUIVALENT RISK.
3. If a play is sustainable, its next steps are defined within the 3rd principle: COLLABORATION RULES.
4. Given: throughout every phase of every project, THE WORK MATTERS.
5. If part of a production’s infrastructure isn’t working (often the case) everyone understands that FAILURE IS YOUR FRIEND AND THE QUICKEST WAY TO LEARN.
6. And finally, a reflection of the commitment to innovation and acceptance of high risk: SUCCESS COMES WITH THE COURAGE TO STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN.
Those who work consistently in the professional theatre simply love what they do; if they didn’t, the ever-changing conditions of the creation, development, rehearsal and run of a show, would be intolerable.
I’ve chosen my favorite quotes on love from my collection. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.Zelda Fitzgerald (1900 – 1948) “Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”
Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960) “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
**************************Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) née Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” (From TWENTY LOVE POEMS AND A SONG OF DESPAIR)
*******************Shel Silverstein (1930 – 1999) How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ‘em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ‘em.
**********************“I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.”
************************Harper Lee (Born 1926) “With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable.” (From TO KILL MOCKINGBIRD, Chapter 12)
*************************Jarod Kintz (Born 1982) “With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day, so you can see what you meant to me. ”
**************Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967) “By the time you swear you’re his, Shivering and sighing. And he vows his passion is, Infinite, undying. Lady make a note of this – One of you is lying.”
****************************Ingrid Bergman (1915 – 1982) “A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”
If you’d like to share your favorites, please do. This love thing is positively contagious. Let’s keep it going.
*********************Picture Credits Fitzgerald: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Hurston: The Estate of Zora Neale Hurston Neruda: Pablo Neruda – Poemas Originais Traduzidos Silverstein: Larry Moyer/Evil Eye LLC Eliot: London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images Lee: The Birmingham News Kintz: Jarod Kintz.com Parker: DorothyParker.com Bergman: LIFE Magazine ******************************
The definition of the word CRITIC, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, seems simple and sensible. To me, however, it’s the most complicated of the 8 roles of Theatrical Intelligence.
When I speak about the roles of Theatrical Intelligence, I always introduce the Critic last. Why? It’s the final role in the collaborative sequence, and… well, I want to delay the inevitable groans: “No-o-o! How could you? Critics? What do they know?!”
It’s tricky to think of critics as part of the collaborative art form that is the theatre. They are in a position to champion or kill a play, a performance, or an entire production. They don’t work directly with the other 7 roles, so it doesn’t feel like collaborators. But they are. In fact (depending on the phase of development) their objectivity is essential to the success of the project.
Many years ago when I worked as an actor, I remembered every bad review I ever received. Verbatim. Everyone did. It seemed to be an occupational hazard to remember the awful ones and forget the raves. My theory for this (and I’m not alone) is that no one can be as harsh a critic about me as I am about myself, so whatever is written by a critic is already imprinted on my brain.
Once, a notoriously mean-spirited critic compared a performance of mine to an electric blender. Yes, you read that right. My friends thought it was a hilarious achievement and therefore a wonderful notice, but I thought I’d never get over it.
Recently I decided to re-read my theatrical notices, figuring that 20 years would give me enough distance to gain some objectivity. It did. I admit that the blender paragraph still stung a bit, but most revealing was that I had no memory of the good reviews. It was as if I was reading love letters that I’d never received, yet I knew I’d read every one of them. Selective amnesia. A theatrical phenomenon.
The insightful quotations below are from ten stellar theatre critics who reflect on their profession:
1. “There is no joy so great as that of reporting that a good play has come to town.”
2. “In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising.”
3. “It is not a reviewer’s business to “sell” plays, but surely it is a playwright’s business not to write plays in such a way that the barest, most gingerly mention of the plot material in a review will kill the play dead on the spot.”
4. “A good drama critic is one who perceives what is happening in the theatre of his time. A great drama critic also perceives what is not happening.”
5. “I don’t believe arts criticism is itself art. But that doesn’t mean it is without its own merits… criticism (and even reviews, if you choose to make that distinction) offers a record of how our civilization responded to the arts. Theater critics are not theater artists, but we are recorded proof that theater mattered, and for me, that’s more than enough.”
6. “To be a good critic, you need to hustle and be curious and scrap and think harder in a short period of time than anyone else about these plays. You need to be stubborn in your convictions and firm in the idea that the crowd is not always right.”
7. I subscribe strongly to the idea that all criticism should be constructive. You’re not in the business of tearing people down. Part of your responsibility as a critic is being a consumer advocate. You have to make judgments as to whether a show is something people want to spend their money on.”
8. “The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.”
9. “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.”
10. “The most wonderful street in the universe is Broadway. It is a world within itself. High and low, rich and poor, pass along at a rate peculiar to New York, and positively bewildering to a stranger.”
These critics are collaborators. And I think I may just love every one of them.
Photo Credits: Thumbs Up/Down: USA Today Design; Atkinson:ONB/Wein; Kael: Chris Carroll; Kerr: The New York Times; Tynan: Stuart Heydinger/The Observer; Rosenfield: Ms. Rosenfield; Hurwitt: San Francisco Chronicle; Zinoman: Splitsider; Wilde: Napoleon Sarony; Warhol: Susan Greenwood/Getty Images; Rich: CNBC
I’ve been thinking about this question recently, probably because I’m in one of those why-is-it-so-bleeping-hard-to-create-phases. Though my trusty quotes collection has more words on creativity than any other topic, it’s a puzzler.
According to Albert Einstein, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” which sounds as if you have to know the right people in order to catch it.
When collaborators have told me I’m creative (much appreciated, by the way) they seem to use a lot of “i” words: imagination, ingenuity, inventiveness, inspiration, innovation… To me, it sounds hifalutin and mysterious.From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: kri·eɪ’tɪv·ɪ·t̬i: noun / Ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form.
Yikes. Apparently it also has to be new!
The quotes below ring true to me when the creativity flows… and (sigh) when it stops:
1. “The creative impulse can be killed, but it cannot be taught. What a teacher can do… in working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I’m concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations.”
2. “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”
3. “Learn the craft of knowing how to open your heart and to turn on your creativity. There’s a light inside of you.”
4. “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”
5. “To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”
6. “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.”
7. “Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.”
8. “ ‘Keeping busy’ is the remedy for all the ills in America. It’s also the means by which the creative impulse is destroyed.”
9. “Decision by democratic majority vote is a fine form of government, but it’s a stinking way to create.”
And last, one of my very favorite quotes in the world…
10. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
PHOTO CREDITS: Angelou: Dr. Maya Angelou Chagall: Russian Paintings Gallery Cleese: Albert L. Ortega Dillard: Phyllis Rose L’Engle: George M. Gutierrez Pinkola Estés: Getty Images Hellman: Bernard Gotfryd Jamison: Andrew Eccles Oates: Agencia EFE/Rex Features Picasso: Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”
“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”
“If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.”
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.”
“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.”
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
“You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older.”
“The good die young, but not always. The wicked prevail but not consistently. I am confused by life, and I feel safe within the confines of the theatre”
“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”
Photo Credits: Adler: Irene Gilbert; Allen: Terry Richardson; Angelou: Brian Lanker/Little Brown; Cartier-Bresson: Jane Bown; Einstein: Yousef Karsh; Gish: Getty Images; Hayes: Richard Avedon; Morrison: Princeton University; Picasso: Arnold Newman/Howard Greenberg Gallery; Tharp: Chester Higgins/The New York Times; Wilder: Gisele Freund; Woollcott: The New York Times Photo Archives
To survive, theatre artists must be really good at what they do, though sometimes they’re not-so-good at speaking about what they do. These directors are superb at both.
“Truth in theatre is always on the move. As you read this book [The Empty Space] it is already moving out of date. It is for me an exercise, now frozen on the page. But unlike a book, the theatre has one special characteristic. It is always possible to start again. In life this is myth, we ourselves can never go back on anything. New leaves never turn, clocks never go back, we can never have a second chance. In the theatre, the slate is wiped clean all the time.”
“I love it when people say ‘What a horrible, lousy idea.’ I think that’s great… I hate the comfort zone. I don’t think that anything that’s really creative can be done without danger and risk.”
“I never think about putting my stamp on anything… If someone watches a play and they don’t see the hand of the director in it, if it’s seamless and seems effortless, then I will have achieved what I’m after.”
“Bob Fosse told me if you open a musical script and there’s more than a page or a page-and-a-half of text, you better tear off the paper there and stick in a number, because that’s as long as people want to wait before you show them something.”
“The simple idea is that the theater is a medium… We need new theatrical forms, we need new ways of expressing our ideas. We still have so much work to do in trying to freely figure out how theater speaks, so, to me, this play [33 Variations] is an exercise in that. It’s a play with music, it’s a play with dancing, it’s a play with singing, it’s a play with video… It really tries to redefine how the theatrical space is used.”
“I think in our culture there’s been a tendency for people to blame the audience. There is a tendency in our industry to say, ‘The audience has left the building. People don’t want culture anymore. We’re a depraved civilization. All this technology, all the computer games and the iPhones… nobody will sit for art anymore. What a dismaying state of humanity.’ I feel as a theater creator, and now as a producer, that this is the wrong way to think about it. We must ask: What are we doing? How are we responsible? How can we create experiences that will bring audiences back?”
“The only difference between a play and a musical is that there are more parts to a musical, more things for a director to concern himself or herself with. There is no mystique in directing a musical. The essential task is the same: telling a story that will transport an audience to a place that is hopefully, religious.”
“I’ve always noticed how the men in orchestras struggle with tails … It’s a lot of clothing, and it’s quite constricting, and it can get hot. And for the women, it’s hard for them to know what to wear. I was thinking, ‘Where are we headed with an orchestra in the 21st century?’ I don’t want to change the music, but the trappings? We’re wearing the same clothes we were wearing 200 years ago. It might be time for an update.”
“For me, the challenge is to make the stage a forum that allows universal themes to shine and refract through the humanity of my cultural lenses. That, I believe, does more than several hundred pieces of race-relations legislation. It makes us all part of the human family. Equally. That’s political!”
“On the director’s role: You are the obstetrician. You are not the parent of this child we call the play. You are present at its birth for clinical reasons, like a doctor or midwife. Your job most of the time is simply to do no harm. When something does go wrong, however, your awareness that something is awry – and your clinical intervention to correct it – can determine whether the child will thrive or suffer, live or die.”
Photo Credits: Alsop: Grant Leighton; Brook: Colm Hogan; Daniele: Joseph Marzullo/Retna; Hauser: Oxford Playhouse; Kaufman: James Edstrom; Kwei-Armah: Matt Roth/The New York Times; Leon: PR-Web; Paulus: Susan Lapides; Taymor: papptimi/Fidelio; Zaks: Cartazes e Fotografias