Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Open Letter (10)

CAST! LISTEN UP! [ed. note: This is the accepted way of opening an address to a student cast.]

Thank you. I had no idea what to expect from my week in halfway-to-nowhere Minnesota, and you all have absolutely knocked my socks off. Over the last three days you've proven yourselves smart, talented, energetic, and - perhaps most inspiring to me - endlessly eager to learn. You've drunk in our endless notes on theater, music, and performance; you've asked intelligent questions; you've SOUGHT OUT extra information and help. And you have displayed incredible generosity toward your fellow performers. As far as I can tell, not one of you is complacent or conceited, and that is to be applauded. (But don't let the applause make you complacent or conceited.)

Keep working hard - I hope you've seen this week just how much you can accomplish when you do. Keep questioning your teachers and directors - don't take what we say at face value, ask about what doesn't make sense, and ask when you want to know more. Keep giving so generously to the people you work with - whether they're fellow artists in a collaboration or office mates at a 9-5 job, giving your energy and trust to the people you're working with can have radical results. Keep looking for the fun, the sense of play - you'll spend far too much time in your life on what seems like drudgery, so whenever you can find some joy in what you're doing, embrace it and make the most of it. And keep learning - no matter how old you are or how much experience you have, there is ALWAYS more to learn; understanding that will help you to always move forward, never be complacent or conceited. It will also keep your eyes open for hidden learning experiences that are all too easy to miss, and are like gifts if you can receive them.

But enough cheese! You guys have TOTALLY ROCKED this week!! I'm so proud of you, and I hope you're proud of yourselves. Thank you. You guys are rock stars.

Monday, May 16, 2011

An Open Letter (9)

To the Woman with the Crazy Sob Story,

Look, lady, I'm sure you're in a fix. Maybe your stepmother really did die this morning, and you really did just pick up your 3 and 11 year old siblings from a police precinct and they're now sitting in that gray Corrolla right there (that I can't see). Maybe you really do just need some help getting back to Irvington. Or out of Brooklyn. There have been moments when all I've wanted, myself, is to get out of Brookyln.

But if you want to be taken seriously, perhaps you should reconsider the plan of attack that goes: 1. wander up to random stanger on a Brooklyn street who is held captive because her car is wide open as boxes are being loaded out of it, 2. declare that you have an emergency situation, 3. plead for the chance to Google.

Let me say that again: "it's an emergency - do you have a way to Google?"

When you want a stranger to hand you cash on the street, just ask for it. Don't try to pretend that really all you want to do is use Google to look up you-don't-know-what (as you said yourself) and then rapidly launch into explaining how you have just enough gas to get your car to the gas station and you just need some help getting home to Irvington with your 3 and 11 year old siblings who are sitting right there in that invisible Corrolla.

Really. Try again, please. And if you could leave me out of it next time, that would be even better.