That's the only way I can describe what the discussion between the cast of [title of show] and Ira Glass was like. When I'm at work, I'm primarily listening to either This American Life or [tos] so I have to admit that I felt like a newborn who after listening to Bach in the womb hears his music and reacts without knowing why. I've seen pictures of Ira, and [tos] live but this is the closest I've ever been to either of them and it was incredibly thrilling.
The event was at the 92nd Street Y's new space in Tribeca, which is totally beautiful and has a bar to boot. We picked out some seats house right and settled in among a remarkably diverse audience considering we were going to watch a talk about a recently closed Broadway show moderated by a man who built his career in National Public Radio. When they all walked on stage my heart was in my throat. I love what these people do the way some people love really great jazz musicians--I think it is way more sophisticated than simple entertainment; it is a sublime expression of the human condition and it's their life's work.
I wont bore anyone with my recounting of what was said and by whom, but I'm always on the lookout for little clues into life's little "just so stories." Ira was talking about how in house growing up the soundtrack was Broadway musicals like Fiddler on the Roof, and he realized some time later, after producing a number of stories for NPR that his idea of good story telling was essentially a musical. It's kind of funny in the beginning, gets serious at some point later on, everyone is significantly changed at the end and there's all this really important music that weaves the whole thing together. If you think about it, that's basically what the stories on TAL are--little Broadway musicals in the medium of radio.
The cast of [title of show] was remarkable as always and incredibly sincere. They performed a few times and I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing "Die Vampire, Die." At the end of their discussion, the room was hot and smelled of burgers from the kitchen cranking out sliders and other bar food and Ira, I believe because of the heat and late hour thought claiming it was because the 92nd St. Y is a Jewish organization, said he would take 4 questions (apparently that's a Passover joke but ask your Jewish friends for clarification because it's certainly the first Passover joke I've ever heard--good one Ira).
At first I didn't have a question, but I have always been curious about the way [tos] developed as it passed through each of it's incarnations. Because I'm an approval junkie I ran my question by my friend Shahna who, without even hearing the whole thing stage whispered "That's a brilliant question, you're the smartest person in the room, now stand up and ask it." I have to add, though the words she said are really nice on paper, the way she said it was so motivating--more to the tune of "don't be a douche, this is a once in a lifetime shot." All of a sudden I found my hand in the air, and Ira was pointing at me across the smoke filled room saying "Yes, you" like something from a surreal dream. I stood up, and before I had even completely formed the question in my head, the words spewed forth.
Because I have the ability to editorialize, here is the question I asked: "I've always been intrigued about the structure of [title of show]--it's the only show I can think of that begins in the past and as you're watching it collides with the present. Presumably, this is something that has been refined since it's first appearance at NYMF and at The Vineyard and with the subsequent move to Broadway you had to add a ton of new material in order for the device to still work--an a-traditional approach to reworking a show for a professional run. How did you decide to structure it in this way, and do you feel the work is dramatically different now than when you began?" I'd love to pretend that was the question I actually asked, but I think we both know it wasn't. Typically, I'm a ball of nerves, but add Ira Glass and Susan Blackwell and I'm a twittering sweaty ball of nerves in need of a speech pathologist. I don't remember what I said, I'm told it made sense--after all they answered me--but in asking the question I sounded as if every word was my last one on earth. They weren't though--and although we didn't get to meet anyone after the talk, I walked away feeling incredibly inspired by the genius and raw creative muscle of the group. I've had an excitement hangover all day--and that will keep me driven for a while. Eventually I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to actually dialogue with these people, but for now I'll have to settle for being a nobody in New York.
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6 years ago