Illuminating, to say the least

By Tim Smith

Where A r [ts] Thou?

“My stronger suit was stimulating people” – Harold Prince: 21-time Tony Award winning director/producer on Broadway.

Over the next month, I will be featuring a series highlighting luminaries in the arts, whose journeys to success can be found in interviews at The Academy of Achievement website.

In both oral and written transcript form, these intimate portraits are presented here as a reminder of the depth of commitment, and within, the inherent struggles, that each ‘achiever’ endured to finally break through and impact their craft.

The Academy site also features interviews with those in sport, business, science and exploration, and public service.

I will be focusing on those who have made profound contributions in the following artistic disciplines: film, television, theater, dance, music, writing, [long forms], poetry, and design/architecture.

Let the cameras roll as we visit with George Lucas, who changed films’ story trajectory, and Sidney Poitier, who changed its humanity.

“I moved cinema from a chemical based medium to a digital based medium . . . and I’ve left these stories – tales . . .”

Mr. Lucas offered an extended narrative of his deeply held belief in the individual artist and how each would interact with their colleagues, and in turn, they with him. Early success was seen from a David vs. Goliath perspective.

He seemed to radiate when he reflected back on his early beginnings, the hurdle that was/is film school, and then launching the first projects, and how those who were in his circle felt the same way about their collective purpose, getting the work, any work. He described how he had failed to land a project, but then insisted that a colleague attempt to close the deal. He reinforced that they had to support each other in that way, for if one could break down a perceived or real barrier, then it would be possible for someone else to do the same.

They all understood that they were building something, not building one thing.

“I have this internal connectedness . . . “

Mr. Poitier, distinguished on so many levels, spent much of the interview laying the foundation for how he achieved success, not stardom, guided in an almost spiritual way, by this quotation.

For those interested in the profession of acting, he spoke to the essence of connection aided by one’s creativity. Whether on a screen or a stage, an agreed upon partnership between the actor and the audience must be established, and within the first few minutes of their meeting. Be alert to his term, “in neutral” as it relates to the actor’s perceived responsibility, and our receptivity.

I later learned, as it was not covered during the interview, that Mr. Poitier served as the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan from 1997-2007.

DU @ 50: Reflecting on the education that I received from Drury University, in Springfield, Missouri, and honoring the 50th anniversary of my graduation, is also one of “connectedness.”

Many of those that I journeyed with are gone, or I have lost contact with them, and in retrospect, I hope that I have honored our legacy in what we accomplished, on that small stage, where so many visionary players before us had trod its boards.

I have been focusing on DU’s theatre arts programming that prepared students to pursue graduate studies, classroom excellence and work on theatre’s professional stages. During our last year, film studies were coming into their own as a scholarly pursuit, and specific subjects were being offered, and as I recall, they were more technical than performance based.

One of the traditional events, conducted every other year, was when the department of theater honored a Drury professor who was an authority on Shakespeare. Through in-class studies complimenting the full-scale stage production of Anthony and Cleopatra, the classical traditions vital to our liberal arts education were illuminated, thus reinforced.

Back to another classes future: Returning DU theater students in 2021-2022 will have the following season to look forward to as they offer: Thanksgiving Play, Amelie, Peter and the Wolf, The Bourgeoise Gentleman, and Broadway Cabaret. The Drury Lane Film Festival will also be presented. Due to potential restrictions on travel, the department’s production of the musical Seussical is tentative for performances in area schools.

Next week: The Peace Circle in Grapevine, Texas.

Connections made, locally inspired in our town since 1/06.

See you at the local newsstand.


[For EFA-62]

(This is Where A r [ts] Thou?, Creativity squared, #817: Year 15)

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