And every year, as the weather starts to warm and we have those first real days of recognizing that the winter is truly over (though this year, I don’t entirely believe it) and the allergies start acting up for real, I can’t help but think of a particular commencement speech. It was not actually the speech delivered at my graduation. To be honest, I don’t even remember who spoke at my graduation, let alone what he or she said. No, this particular speech was over ten years before my time and was one that, until the wonders of being able to look up just about anything on the internet, I had only ever heard about second hand from my mom:
In 1980, another dad got to play a special role in his daughter’s graduation. I don’t know if he actually handed his daughter her diploma, but that graduation, Alan Alda delivered the Connecticut College commencement address. His daughter was in attendance, graduating from the school and he not only delivered a beautiful speech that could have applied to each of the graduates present, he also managed to make it a personal bit of advice from a dad to his daughter. The whole speech is beautiful and powerful (why else would my mom still talk about it almost 25 years later) and can be read here. But there’s a particular passage that I feel applies today. Towards the end of the speech Mr. Alda gave his daughter, and all of her fellow graduates, the following advice:“I want you to have chutzpah. Nothing important was ever accomplished without chutzpah. Columbus had chutzpah. The signers of the Declaration of Independence had chutzpah. Don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Laugh at yourself, but don’t doubt yourself. Whenever you wonder about yourself, look up at the stars swirling around in the heavens and just realize how tiny and puny they are. They’re supposed to be gigantic explosions and they’re just these insignificant little dots. If you step back from things far enough you realize how important and powerful you are. Be bold. Let the strength of your desire give force and moment to your every step. Move with all of yourself. When you embark for strange places don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. They may laugh at you if you don’t discover India. Let them laugh. India’s already there. You’ll come back with a brand new America. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory. Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. It is not the previously known. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”
I can’t even with this. No, I’m serious. Did you read that? I know it’s a long passage, but this isn’t just an excuse for me to avoid coming up with a long blog post of my own. It’s important. It’s powerful advice from a successful man about a crazy, competitive, unpredictable business. But it’s more than that – it’s poetry, man. It’s frakking poetry. I feel like I want to claim this as a manifesto for myself and for GTTP.
Because, here’s a little secret, Gentle Readers – it’s all true. You need to be bold. You need to not doubt. You need to let the strength of your desire give force and moment to your every step. You need to move with all of yourself. You need to NOT LEAVE ANY OF YOURSELF SAFELY ON SHORE. It’s about the leap. It’s about being brave. It’s about embracing the unknown. It’s about having the nerve, having the chutzpah. It’s about leaving the city of your comfort and going into the wilderness of your intuition. It’s about hard work and risk and NOT QUITE KNOWING WHAT YOU’RE DOING. It’s the only way you’ll find greatness. It’s the only way you’ll find yourself. And, it’s what we’re doing here at Tahiti. To be honest it’s what we’ve been doing all along, but now, we’re about to do it in a bigger and scarier way then we ever have before. Not only are we about to make a television show – yup, an honest-to-god tv show, but we’re also about to exist in two mediums simultaneously. Next week, I will head down to Virginia for a pre-production meeting with my UPM (that’s Unit Production Manager to the non-film folks), my Associate Producers and my Writer/Co-producer, as well as our first big fundraising event, and our first official location scout with our Locations Manager. And, while I’m off gallivanting in Virginia and prepping Farm Story, Molly will take the reins here and start prepping her next project – a theater-beyond-words piece derived from the music of Camilla Ammirati and text of Alexis Roblan.
And, yup, that means I’m about to give up a bit of control (yes it is actually that hard for me to even conceive of such a thing, despite the fact that I couldn’t have chosen better hands to leave GtTTheater in than Molly’s). GTTP is about to have its first theatrical show that I will have very little involvement in. Although I’ll be around and consulting and I’ll still be blogging about and talking about it, it really won’t be mine at all. It’s time to let the GtTTheater fly without me for a bit – don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m done with theater, not by a long shot – in fact, come October, I’ll be back in the rehearsal room with Molly for our Fall show – but for the next few months, I will be taking a bit of break to focus on television and as Farm Story moves forward, and Molly takes the reigns of our newest theatrical adventure, we will try to follow Mr. Alda’s advice. We will be bold. We will be brave. We will have chutzpah!