A Producer stands up to God.
Theater Owners have always had awesome power. But in the past couple of decades that power has only grown, as the overall business has grown (since theater owners get a % of the gross, regardless of whether or not the show is making its nut or not, higher grosses always lead to higher income, which is not the case for the Producer), and as producing theater has become more popular the number of potential tenants has increased.
Additionally, Theater Owners are like the St. Peter of the Theatrical World . . . as they decide what gets in and what doesn’t.
Since they decide so many people’s fates, you can see why a lot of people think they have Almighty-Like powers.
Overseas, a Producer at this year’s Edinburgh festival, David Johnson, decided he wasn’t happy with the policies of his local Deity after getting a request for free tickets, so he complained. But rather than give a call, and explain his position, and talk through it, he fired off a dramatic written response that explained exactly how he felt.
And that complaint found its way on to a blog.
Spoiler alert: it’s a doozy.
I gotta give Mr. Johnson props for standing up for what he believes in, and standing up to those that could control his fate now, and in the future. It couldn’t have been easy, and from the evidence in his letter, it sounds like he has quite a point (there isn’t a response from the theater owner that I know of as of yet).
Admittedly, though, I think I would have taken a slightly different tone in the letter. I’m reminded of a letter I wrote to some people who controlled part of my destiny back in 1997 when I questioned a practice by my own soon-to-be-union, and their sweeping-under-the-rug of a well known practice of many Producers not paying apprentices what they should have been paid according to union minimums. I was actually advised by mentors of mine to sit on it . . . to not speak my mind . . . and let what was happening continue to happen.
I didn’t listen, of course, but I did rewrite my letter to make sure it was an impassioned plea but at the same time constructive. I got some flack. But I also got a little progress.
As a Producer, you must always stand up for what you believe in. But you should also remember that our industry is a collaborative one. People that pi$$ you off today may have to be your partners tomorrow. People that you don’t need today, you may be begging for help tomorrow. So stand up, but stand up smart.
Was there a time when you stood up for something with success? How did you handle it?
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.