I watched the Tony Awards last night, an event I’ve avoided in recent years. I’m not going to pretend I ever experienced any real heyday in theater (unless anyone considers the 90’s a heyday) but there was a time when I used to see a lot of shows, finding my way around the staggering ticket prices (there are ways and they require a lot of time, something I don’t have a lot of these days.)
In my humble opinion, Broadway, in an effort to become more accessible, has become completely inaccessible. A strange place with one Disney movie after another mousing its way on to the stage and ticket prices so insanely steep ($250!) it has become almost impossible to experience it in any real way.
But…shoot, I digress. This is not what this post is about. What I meant to say is that I watched the Tony Awards last night and there were some incredible performances. Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig. And Jessie Mueller in Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, who was so amazingly…well…beautiful.
It’s also one of the first years in which a lot of different musicals and plays took home various awards instead of one show sweeping it all.
There were a lot of very nice speeches and many wonderful nods to theater education, including a new series of prizes that award education in the arts.
David Binder, the producer of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which won for Best Revival of a Musical, said something that resonated with me. As a writer, who very often tags the words ‘and producer’ to most of my professional pursuits, I was pleased to find the simplest and, perhaps, best explanation for what a producer actually does. Something I’ve had a lot of trouble explaining to friends and family (and the poor people at cocktail parties who are forced to speak with me) for most of my adult life.
I think a lot of people think it’s the producer’s job to find new ideas, but I think it is actually the other way around. And then it’s our job, as producers, to move them forward, to find wholeness, to find completion.
He goes on to say that Hedwig was the idea that found him and he thanked all the people around him who completed the idea so remarkably.
I think it is this way for all artists and that all artists are, in their own way, producers. I know it’s really quite simple. But simple is most always true. The idea chooses us. It is about having the vision and finding our way forward, toward completion.