Monday, March 09, 2009

Drinking the Theatrical KoolAid « a poor player:

I think the saddest experience of my day yesterday was attending the keynote address at which Beth Leavel spoke (or rather performed). A graduate of Meredith College and University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Ms. Leavel won the Tony Award for her performance in the title role of The Drowsy Chaperone. Her IBDB listing indicates she’s been in exactly 6 shows on Broadway since 1980. Almost 13 years of her career has been performing in 42nd St., the original and the revival. She was in the right place at the right time with the right show to win her Tony. She is funny, and she appears to have a very quick comic mind. She enjoys playing the comic diva. She had the assembled multitude of college theatre majors eating out of her hand.

But she had nothing serious to say, really. Neither did the  theatre majors. All the questions and all the talk was about how to succeed on Broadway and be like her. As I walked through the halls of the hotel complex during the afternoon I grew more and more sad watching all these young dressed-up kids with their audition numbers pinned to their chests waiting for their turn to show everyone what they could do and begin their climb up the great Broadway ladder. They know nothing else at all about theatre except this professional business model, and they have no sense of independent thought in terms of thinking about how to push back against it. They’re just buying it hook, line and sinker. And we, the educators, are tossing them the baited hook.

8:05 AM