Resolutions, Success, and Smash

by Mo Perry • Jan. 8

News and notes |

The Tweet Seat conversation continued this week with this Star Tribune article, which struck me as pretty balanced. It also features some delicious comments from a handful of people who took to the internet to express their low opinion of people who use the internet to express their opinions. God bless America.

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The beginning of a new year always brings extended riffs across the media and blogosphere on resolutions: whether to make them, how to keep them, what the cycle of setting ourselves up for failure on an annual basis says about human nature, etc. This was one blog post on the topic (sort of) that I found inspiring and thought-provoking this week, by Polly Carl for HowlRound. Its subject is how we define success, and whether it might be time to reexamine that definition.

This is something I find myself thinking about a lot these days, particularly this quote from Carl's post:

"And strangely, many artists who do find success on these terms don’t recognize it when they get there. I’ve met very few theater artists who will acknowledge that they’ve “made it” even though from the vantage point of those success markers, they clearly have.

Why is that? Is it because they had to make so many compromises along the way? Is it because like for those who go down the Wall Street road, there’s never enough? Never enough money? Accolades? Positive reviews? Awards? Standing Os? Like the billionaires, they’ve spent so much time in acquisition mode, they can’t stop wanting more, they can’t stop and see that at some point there is enough for them, and perhaps in a more generous world, for everyone?"

I have a dear friend who is about to perform one of her dream roles for a theater that she's been dying to work with for years. In a recent conversation about it, she confessed that her predominant feeling about it at that moment was not pride and delight in the accomplishment of realizing a dream, but a fervent hope that it would lead to something else--to more work, more visibility, more...what? More success.

We've all been there. Maybe it's the nature of the arts, or maybe it's just human nature. We have these conflicting desires for new twists, challenges, and pinnacles of accomplishment on the one hand, and security and predictability on the other. What good is it to reach a new pinnacle if right on the other side is an icy precipice leading to certain doom (a.k.a permanent theatrical unemployment, artistic irrelevance, a job stirring the rice at Baja Sol)? How, in this business, do we manage to stay in the moment and feel secure long enough to celebrate success? I don't know, but I think it's worth thinking about and striving for.

In the meantime, I find it comforting that feelings of insecurity don't seem to have much to do with objective circumstances, but are universal and, therefore, overcome-able regardless of what one's circumstances are. If we can feel grasping and insecure while realizing a dream, we can also feel confident, steady, and full of quiet faith in the deepest gulfs and valleys of our careers.

So. Happy New Year!

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Speaking of deep gulfs and dark artistic valleys, "Smash," the TV show that Hulu is now actually promoting as "the show that everyone loves to hate-watch," is nearing its Season 2 premiere date! Not only that, but they're releasing a cast album of 22 songs from the Broadway-show-within-the-TV-show, "Bombshell," sung by Katherine McPhee, Megan Hilty, and others. Hey, it worked for Nashville.

The Season 2 trailer is up, and oh my god. They somehow managed the impossible. It looks like they've actually made the show worse than it was in Season 1. You better believe I'll be watching. And reading Rachel Shukert's inspired episode recaps.

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For those of you more interested in creating your own onstage drama than in hearing Angelica Houston flatly declare "someone tipped off the government about the money I've been using to finance the show," (sorry, I'm not quite past that Smash trailer yet), check out the slew of auditions and job postings that went up over the past couple of days in the Classifieds section:

http://minnesotaplaylist.com/classified

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And last but certainly not least, we were delighted to learn that Penumbra Theater was successful in its fund-raising efforts in the final part of 2012, and took in enough money to plug its budget shortfall and produce a musical this coming March: "Spunk," George C. Wolfe’s adaptation of stories by Zora Neale Hurston. All is not sunshine and daffodils--there are still significant challenges ahead--but this is heartening news that our whole community can celebrate.

For more, check out yesterday's New York Times article on the subject.

That's all for this week, team. Over and out!