I’ll be in the lovely city of Chicago for the last two weekends in August, prepping four companies of actors to tour my latest version of Aladdin.
I first started working with Windy City in the fall of ’99, touring for three months in a terrible production of The Secret Garden. When the tour was done, I informed the producer of exactly how terrible this script was (this was even before the half-assed puppetry was accounted for), and he responded by hiring me to write and direct the next fall’s production. Now the kindergarteners from my first year on the job are entering their senior years of college, and I have gray hairs — if you look close enough.
In those first few years I had serious concerns about “selling out” and the drudgery of working on a project that didn’t have my full heart behind it. But the truth is that I’ve decided that I want my job to be that of a storyteller. That is my defining role, like when Donovan talk-sings about the farmer, and the poet, and the carpenter, and the rest of the mish-mash of characters on his weird ark in Atlantis, I want to be the storyteller. And if we look at the carpenter, I’m sure he has a lot of projects that fulfill the shit out of his little woodworking heart, but sometimes the other people in your tribe need a house. Not a fancy Frank Lloyd Wright you’lll have a place to sleep in a couple years house, but a roof. Say, right now. It’s okay to just build a house. As long as you build it well. It’s your fucking job. Call all of that a justification, or just call it growing up. I love that someone pays me to write and direct theatre. And every night I go to bed in the fall, I know that 6,000 kids across the country saw my play that day, and that’s pretty damn special, and I’m pretty damn grateful to do it.