Monday, December 21, 2009

Love, Love, Love

When I first showed up to NYU, one of our intro-level courses brought in some film producer and asked him a bunch of questions. One of the questions was "How did you get to be a film producer?" and the answer sent along the lines of, "Well, I wanted to be an actor or a director, but very quickly it turned out that I didn't have the talent for that at all, so I turned into a producer so I could at least be near what I loved."

I'd heard that a bunch from producers, and a few times from directors, and often from stage managers and casting directors. I felt a chill in my spine and I swore to myself I would never be a producer or any one of those other jobs that is filled with sad people who gave up on their dreams.

Well, now that I'm a producer (although I haven't given up on acting and directing!) I wanted to account, at least for myself, as to why I'm a producer. For those who produce and aren't doing it because it allows them to fill the holes in their heart because they let their dreams die, why produce?

The first time I wound up producing, it was because I was a director, and I knew that if I didn't produce my work, it wouldn't happen. Vanity producing, in other words. That's pretty simple to explain.

But right now, I'm producing my friend John Kurzynowski's production of Hamlet, and I am involved creatively only to the extent that I get to occasionally put a creative word in John's ear. Why do I do it?

The answer: love.

It turns out that a producer is just someone who falls in love with projects that aren't their own -- falls in love so hard that they have to fight to make the project.

I had worked with John previously, I was the assistant director on a fantastic production of Ibsen's Doll's House that was his independent project. It was outstanding, in equal measures because of his clear, whimsical, and sharply intelligent directing, and because of the clear, whimsical, and sharply intelligent performance given by the actress playing Nora, Stacy Jordan.

When John turned to me one day as we were walking through McCarren Park and mentioned casually that he's had a desire for some time now to direct a production of Hamlet starring the same Stacy Jordan as Hamlet, I imagined it in my head, and I fell in love. I told him right there that I would do what it takes to bring that performance to the stage.

The moment where I tell someone I would kill to produce their play feels a little like proposing. One of my friends wrote some music in her song composition class that brought me to the level of tears -- harmonies that I had never heard before, harmonies that were perfectly suited for the live stage and intimate spaces. And when she mentioned off-hand to one of our teachers that she wanted to write an opera, I had to grab her after class and say, "If you write it, I will make it happen." I practically fell on one knee.

I see a lot of work in development, because I try to read people's work very closely and give them good feedback, and also because I'm often in classroom environments. It kills me -- KILLS ME -- to see good work that is sitting on a playwright's desk, or kicking around in a song-writer's mind. When I fall in love with a piece, my first impulse is to do whatever it takes to make it real. To produce it.

The next step, of course, is to actually make it happen -- and then convince people to come and see the thing you love, hoping they'll love it too.


Guy Yedwab
Artistic Director