Friday, April 27, 2012

The Waxman Letters, #1

My dear nephew Clive,
Thank you so much for the generous offer to serve on the board of directors of your exciting new endeavor.  Alas, I am stretched a bit thin between my obligations to a number of other theatre companies around town, so I fear I must decline.  However you know your uncle will always be here with a word of encouragement, to steer you in the right direction as you and your cohorts build what will no doubt become one of the better intimate theatre companies in Los Angeles.

It was right for the group of you to splinter off from that other company.  No one ever solved anything by staying where they are and trying to improve things.  You all no doubt know how to better run a theatre company than that tyrant of an artistic director who has kept a stranglehold on things for the past ten years.  How he manages to hold onto his position year after year is anyone's guess.  Alas, he is a friend, and I remain on his Board of Directors out of a silly sense of obligation.

I am excited to hear you have already decided on a name and are hard at work on a mission statement.  Be thorough, but try to keep it under 200 words.  And remember:  Grantors really care about the way such things are worded.  Keep it specific yet a little vague, focusing on the importance of "storytelling" and "trying new things."  "Edgy" is a good word to use, as funders like to believe they are on the cutting edge of an artform as old as time.  They also like to see a committment to "collaboration" and "community".  These are largely empty words, but everyone uses them. 

Don't worry if what you come up with seems like a carbon copy of a carbon copy.  It is far more important that you outline your mission without baring your teeth, so to speak.  You can express who you truly are onstage.  The mission statement is simply supposed to make you look professional, and so it will invariably seem a little too like the mission statements of other theatre companies.  Again, this is wholly acceptable.  It makes your new company consistent with all those other, more established companies, i.e. "professional."
I trust you are also wildly patching together your first season.  I hope you will think to include a Shakespeare for your old uncle.

Kindest personal regards,

Mort Waxman

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