In Tech (and in Life), Time is like Toothpaste.
I’m in a hotel room as I type this. And I just finished a sweet caesar salad with chicken that left me fully satiated . . . and with some breath that could kill a whole bouquet of roses.
So I went to brushy-brushy-brushy (as Elmo sings to my daughter every night), grabbed my toothpaste, and noticed that I was just about down to the end of the tube. I crinkled the tube some more, pressed out the corners and squeeeeeeeeezed with all my might to get a few more drops onto my brush. “Come on,” I urged the tube, “I gotta kill this Caesar!”
I eventually got a little dollop to pop out but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have a little anchovy aftertaste right now.
You’ve been there before, right? With toothpaste, or hand soap (ever put more water in the bottle to extend its life?), etc.
Now flash back to when you opened that tube of toothpaste . . . or that bottle of soap . . . you didn’t think even think about it coming to an end, now did you? You probably over-pasted, or let some spill, and didn’t give two dollops.
But eventually, your tube did run out. It always does. And then you found yourself with less than what you needed to do the job right.
The same is true with time.
And I find my “toothpaste theory” is never more evident than in tech.
Tech is the most expensive and arguably most important time in a show’s run-up to a Broadway opening. It’s where all the elements come together. It’s when there are more people getting paid than ever before.
And you only have a fixed period of time before the tech ends, and the performances must begin.
And at the beginning of tech, everyone spends a little more time on things than they should. And then, as the first preview gets closer . . . and you start to approach the end of the “toothpaste tube of time,” things get more tense, as you’re trying to squeeze every last second of time out of your tech rehearsals to give that first audience the best show possible. “If only we had another day,” is probably the most commonly heard expression in tech. Well, second most common to, “Oh @#$%!”
So . . . it’s important to go into tech remembering that the toothpaste at the beginning of the tube is just as valuable at the end. Do that and you’ll find yourself with a better show for that first audience, which will result in better word of mouth, and so on, and so on.
Oh, and, by the way, this toothpaste theory works for life too. No matter what age we are, we all think there is plenty of time to do all the things we dream about doing, from writing a play to having kids to taking that vacation to that one place we’re dying to see.
But, the fact is, life is short. And you don’t want to find yourself at the end of your own toothpaste tube trying to squeeze a few more years out. Because you can’t.
So go out there and do something you want to do today.
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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.