The Critical Eye

As a theatergoer, I am probably the last person you want on camera for any promotional "crowd reaction" shots.  Whenever I attend the theatre, I sit on the edge of my seat, brow furrowed, concentrating and taking it all in like my life depended on it.  Occasionally, I am overcome by the beauty and depth of the material, and it resonates so deeply that my brain shuts down and I become a puddle of uncontrollable emotions.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, those are rare occasions.  Fortunately, because I really don't need to be emoting uncontrollably in public.  Unfortunately, because I wish more theatrical experiences struck me so deeply.

You see, I spend my days deconstructing.  At the Paley Center, I spend my mornings and afternoons, looking at the same clips of media that I have been looking at for the past 4 years and deconstucting and analyzing them with people as young as 5 and as old as 95.  And when you have watched the "Nike Basketball Beats" commercial at least 250 times you get really good at deconstructing.  If nothing else, it keeps your teaching experience fresh for both you and your students.  

I watch television with groups of people everyday; university students from the UK, high school students from the Bronx, senior citizens from Menorah Park in Ohio, kindergartners from the finest private schools on the Upper East Side, etc., etc., and we deconstruct that television.  And I just can't turn it off anymore. (No pun intended.)

Which is likely the reason why I've gone from being an actor (the most visceral job in the theatre), to a choreographer (visceral and analytical), to a director (very analytical), to a writer/lyricist (incredibly analytical) over the past ten years.  I guess it has become necessary to continue to find more and more vigorous outlets for this (very loud) inner deconstructing voice.

All of this is just to say, I can be a bummer to attend theatre with.  I don't leave a show and say, "it was really good" or "it was terrible."   I need to discuss, at length, why I thought it missed the mark, or what was so brilliant about it.  And to all of you out there (friends and family) who have accused me of being "too intense" a theatre-goer, I proudly and willfully embrace that criticism.  Because the best way to avoid those pitfalls and echo the successes, is to deconstruct...and then create.  So there.

And I'm not alone. To quote my new imaginary best friend, David Spencer (yes, I have become quite a groupie),

Just don’t let them slip the bad stuff past you, all right?

Notice. Let yourself resent that there’s an even better show being denied you.

Somehow that awareness and passion will come in handy later.

Because it’s not okay.

It’s not.

Now see if you can figure out what musical he was reviewing that ended with those words...

(Enjoy your weekend and check back on Monday for the answer!)


Random Thoughts

I have lots of random thoughts.  Lately, it seems like that's all I have, since I've been taking mental multi-tasking to a level beyond what even I thought was possible.  Anyway, as I mentioned a few days ago, I am buried in books this week, but thoroughly enjoying it. 

I'm especially enjoying it, because I can share someone else's random thoughts in this blog entry, rather than try to make my own coherent.

So, here's a little something from the David Spencer's "The Musical Theatre Writer's Survival Guide," which I just finished:

CODA (p.176)

Write well.

Respect the craft.

Create boldly.

See everything.

Remain open--but trust your gut.

Always care.

Stay passionate.

And survive.

If you're good--if you make yourself good--you can do it.

All of it.

Believe that.