Overheard at the Broadway League conference: Day 2

Day 2’s comment comes from the creative conversation with the three women of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof:  Anika Noni Rose, Director Debbie Allen, and everyone’s favorite Cosby mom and Tony Award speech-giver, Phylicia Rashad.

The quote?  From Mrs. Cosby herself . . .

“Directors do not control me.”

Now, you can imagine the “oooohs” this remark drew from the crowd, especially with her director/sister only two seats away.

But Phylicia Rashad settled us quickly and explained what she meant.

“Directors do not control me . . . but I do take direction.”

What Phyl was trying to say was that while a director can tell her exactly where she wants her to go, and the director can poke, prod and give suggestions to help get her there, a director ultimately has no say in the exact techniques that she uses.  And frankly the director shouldn’t care, as long as the performance ends up where the director wants it (in fact, I’m a big believer in secrets – actors shouldn’t reveal what works for them).

Here’s an analogy.  You’re having a birthday party at 9:00 PM at the local Chuck E. Cheese.  You tell your best friend that it’s imperative that they are there at 9:00 PM for the cake and ice cream.  You can give your friend directions, buy him a GPS, or send him a google map if you want.  But ultimately, your friend is going to figure out how to get their on his own, by the route that works best for him.

And as long as he gets there at 9 . . . you should care less.

Now, if he gets there at 9:10, but brings you the best present (aka performance) ever, what do you do?

You compromise, because it’s not your ego, and it’s not your actor’s ego that’s most important.

It’s the audience.

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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.