How it can feel trying to make it in this business.

I was talking to a consulting client the other day who was frustrated with how long it was taking to get her show/career going, through no fault of her own.

She was making incredible progress, actually, having raised front money, gotten her play in a non-profit’s reading series, and she even had an agent snooping around her work.

But it was all just taking longer than she expected.

And I’m sure those of you out there who are looking to produce your own show, write your own show, or start your career are feeling the same.

Because if you’re reading this blog, then odds are you are a person who wants something . . . and does whatever they can to get it.

Unfortunately, there are many things in this industry that you can’t control.  This is true of life in general, of course, but it’s even more evident in the theater.  Why?  Well, by nature we’re a collaborative art form, and when there are more people involved in making the art happen, it just takes longer for all the gears to turn together to move the project down the road.

As I told my client, I know how you feel.  Literally.  Because I get just as frustrated when things creep along at a drunken snail’s pace.

I equate trying to succeed in this business with . . . well . . . breaking out of prison.

You remember The Shawshank Redemption?

Tim Robbins spent night after night, chip, chip, chipping away at that wall.  It took him years.  He couldn’t just break through in one night.  He just tried to make a little bit of progress.  Chip, chip, chip away.  Then every morning he had to stop.  The guards were coming.  The lights were on.  His blunt little tool had to be hid as did the tunnel he was working on.  But each night he chip, chip, chipped away again.

And then . . . one day . . . long, long, long after he started . . . sunlight.  Mexico.  Freedom.

That’s what it’s like trying to break IN to Broadway.  You chip away a bit at a time.  And then, in the morning, you probably have to put your project away because your guard (aka your boss at your day job) is patrolling the halls.  And maybe you can’t tell anyone else about what you’re doing either.  But at night, you bring it out again and get back to it.

It’s hard, sweaty, tiresome, frustrating work that won’t give you the success you want as fast as you want.

But if you keep chip, chip, chipping away, eventually you’ll get through that wall.  You will.  And on the other side there will be sunlight . . . and a standing ovation.


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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.