In thinking about what to write about this time, I was looking through my large folder of stuff entitled “Waiting for a Blog Post” and noticed that I have a lot of stuff in a folder entitled “Advice.” It even has sub-folders specifically for “Advice for Men” and “Advice for Women,” but I decided to stay in the broadest category this time.
Now, at about this point some readers are probably saying to themselves, “Why should we pay any attention to you? You’re just an old, tired, run-down ex-professor who thinks he knows a lot.” Well I’ll confess to being, old, tired and run-down, but I’ve always known there were many others who knew at least as much as I, and probably a good deal more. Still, I think it’s the duty of those of us who have lived a while to try to assist those who come along behind us to have an easier time. So, while I have never participated in activities such as shown below, I know that they exist because us “old” folks find it hard to resist making suggestions and offering advice, when we think they might help.
The picture below probably should be in one of my “Signs Seen Along the Way” posts, but it seemed to fit how I was thinking while I was putting this together. I DID live in the South for a long time, after all. Of course, I was told that I could never qualify as a “true” Southerner (which is probably fair enough), but I did qualify as “A Gentleman of the North.” That was good enough for me. Although I thought then, and still do think, that such regional designations were silly and unproductive. I’m an American! My family, in one form or another, has been here since a good while before the United States was even thought of. Still, I find regional differences to be a source of some amusement, as long as they don’t use them to imply that some of us are better than others. After all, I could argue that almost all of you are “johnny-come-lately” immigrants, whom we “real" Americans shouldn’t have let come in to “spoil” our country. Of course, then we would have to figure out a way to deal with the peoples who arrived before we did, but we can certainly do that, because “those people” don’t really count, do they?
Anyway, I saw this in a shop somewhere and liked it a lot. I THINK it may have been in the “Traditions” shop in Antler Hill Village on the Biltmore Estate, but I’m not sure. Obviously, it was in a store, as it was on a table with some other stuff. In any event, it struck me as an amusing (and somewhat true) comment about Southern behavior, based on over forty years of living there.
Now I don’t think one should ignore original production ideas, but I would argue that each of us has the right, as actors, designers or directors, to develop our own ideas as to how best to develop an approach to our work on a production. I, personally, have been a part of a wide variety of productions from various periods and in various production styles. Some of those productions have, probably, resembled their original productions, but many have not. Some have even used techniques from other periods, cultures, and styles. (NOTE: unabashed plug for the value of studying theatre [and other forms of] history.) Of course, it's also true that it’s illegal for designers and/or directors to steal (copy) the intellectual property (design, choreography, direction) of someone else (original production team), but it also has to do with the idea that we can learn things from those who came before us.
In any event, when my sister exposed me to the work of Mary Engelbreit, I became very fond of this picture from a coffee mug, which now belongs to Bonnie and me. It reminds me that the “New York way” isn’t, necessarily the only, or even the best, way to accomplish something.