Tag Archives: new repertory theatre

Fortune Cookies by Seth Gordon

Seth Gordon, my very good friend from college recently posted a link on his Facebook Wall to a podcast he did for the local NPR affiliate in Yellow Springs, Ohio, WYSO.  The podcast was part of a series called “This I Believe.”  Seth’s comments, “Fortune Cookies”, were on how there are small moments throughout your day that give you hope, wisdom, and calm.  He started on this thread talking about fortune cookies.  These moments allow you to make sense of the world around you, see the big picture, and, inspire you to keep on keeping on:

“I hold to the idea that unlikely sources of hope and wisdom will come at me every day if I just have the capacity to listen and engage. Sometimes they change my worldview for just a moment and sometimes they help me decide which color paint to buy.

“My ability to listen closely to the pulse of my perceived world keeps me on my toes; from wrapping my faith too tightly around the scientific or the latest one sizes fits all metaphysical formula.

“For me, the fortune taps into some primal reservoir of trust in the universe – it is the prompt for a days events; the straw that breaks some block of indecision. Words on a slip of paper are caught by sensitive brain receptors that say ‘you need to hear this.’”

Ever since I met him over ten years ago, Seth has exhibited his passion for learning.  Even greater is his ability to find inspiration in what many others may gloss over.  He meticulously absorbs details and is constantly asking himself how he can use his newfound knowledge to better his profession and the world.

His pursuit of knowledge is infectious.  Whenever he visits his family in Rhode Island, he tries to make it up to Boston.  We meet for breakfast or coffee, and he always has a new book to recommend.  We end up talking passionately about our professions, working through fresh and raw ideas.  We try them out on each other and, most important, listen.

Seth has recommended Michael Lewis’ Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. While being a great read for a die-hard baseball fan like myself, the book also made me reconsider professional theatre subscription acquisition strategies.  This came at a time when I was working at New Repertory Theatre, and we were in the strategic planning for the move to the company to the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown. How Moneyball changed my way of thinking, is a blog post in and of itself.  When Seth read Moneyball, he was reconsidering how small liberal arts colleges develop their admissions strategy.

Seth is a creative ambitious thinker.  His curiosity never fails him It fuels him.  I daresay his curiosity serves as inspiration and motivation.

It definitely inspires and serves as a reminder to his friends to never be satisfied, never rest on your laurels, and always be learning.

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New Repertory Theatre 20th Anniversary Video

Recently New Repertory Theatre (where I worked from 2003 through 2006) posted the documentary video that I had worked on during June 2005.  The video was played before the 20th Anniversary Gala, which also was the theatre community’s first opportunity to see a performance in the Charles Mosesian Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown.

After the video, the audience was treated to a spectacular concert version of New Rep’s award-winning production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It was a fitting celebration for a company that has had a meteoric rise from the small church space in Newton Highlands to a resident company at performing arts center.

Creating this documentary for such an important event was a particularly exciting opportunity.  New Rep partnered with NewTV (Newton Community Access Television) and I had a great time working with then recent high school graduate, Josh Woolf, who was an expert in video production.  Josh’s expertise in knowing nearly everything about the equipment (all mine was a few years out of date) helped us tell New Rep’s compelling story. Josh’s technical experience and my background and knowledge of theatre, a desire to learn more about New Rep, and experience conducting interviews helped us capture some wonderful moments.  It was a great experience in storytelling.  Josh has since gone onto study at Emerson and has worked on a few films as a production assistant.

The interviews took us to New York City to talk to Founding Artistic Director, Larry Lane, and around the greater Boston area to interview other founding members, board members, and Rick Lombardo, the Producing Artistic Director who recently announced he would be leaving to assume the same role at San Jose Rep.

While at Antioch College, Bob Devine, the then-President and Professor of Communications, once said that all Antiochians inevitably work on or create a documentary.  As community members, we recognize there are important stories that must be told.  At that moment in time, I was a student of theatre and psychology, and I didn’t envisioned myself working on any types of documentaries.

I was wrong.

After working on the New Repertory Theatre 20th Anniversary Video, I understood what Bob meant.  When a staff member has the time and freedom to research and present a history of an organization, they are able to fully become part of a tradition.  They understand the context of their daily work in the bigger picture.  The history, as it did for New Rep, illustrated the broader contribution of many different people over an extended period of time that made the theatre what it is today.

When documenting a growing cultural organization like New Rep at a historic moment of moving to a new performing arts space, you begin to learn what it takes to be successful.  You learn about the diverse group of people, each with their own, opinions and personality quirks.  You also learn how each one of these people has contributed to the success and sustainability of the organization.  Above all, what you discover is that through the difference, they are all working together towards a singular, mission-based vision for the organization.

It is a commitment to success.

The stories of the hard work, sacrifice, and commitment that build cultural organizations and institutions into essential parts of life must be told.  They serve as a constant reminder of what is important in our communities and how, if we don’t support them, the can disappear.

“Insist that we support science and the arts, especially the arts. They have nothing to do with the actual defense of our country — they just make our country worth defending.” – Ken Burns

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