What's the Best Broadway Can Be? Some Inspiring Ideas Worth Spreading

What's the Best Broadway Can Be? Some Inspiring Ideas Worth Spreading

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I've written a lot of articles over the years on the Broadway business, but this may be the most substantial one yet. No, not because of the wisdom I'm about to drop on you?-?but because of the wisdom from some of the remarkable speakers who have graced the TEDxBroadway stage over the past six years.

Since TEDxBroadway launched in 2012, we've had over 100 acclaimed speakers on stage, thousands of audience members, and a lot of views on our online content. Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Pulitzer?-?you name it?-?we've had some of the world's most-awarded storytellers on our stages.

Equally significant, we've shared the stage with many leaders, innovators, artists, technologists, students, and academics that are outside of the Broadway community. All of them together bring a fresh perspective and thoughtful conversations to the table.

TEDxBroadway 2018 is just three weeks away on February 27th at New World Stages in New York City. I (along with my co-organizer of the event, Jim McCarthy) hope to see you there. In the meantime, I want to reflect on some common themes that have emerged over the years and share with you the passion, energy, and love that comes from our stage?-?or, as TED would put it, "ideas worth spreading."

The Experience of Theatre Goes Well Beyond the Performance Itself

With so much attention given to the stories being told onstage, it's no surprise that the overall experience often gets lost in conversation.

Give a listen to...

· Diane Paulus for a welcome refresher on the full sensory delight of theatre
·
Christine Jones on the potential of one-by-one impact with audience members
·
Jennifer Ashley Tepper to explore the history of the theaters that make Broadway what it is today
·
Ken Davenport on how looking back on Broadway is the best guidepost for looking forward
· Architect,
Craig Dykers, on how our journey through the streets of Times Square came to be

Art & Technology Collectively Have Brought Light to New Found Perspective

There is so much hype about the friction between art and technology. Meanwhile, some of the greatest advancements in storytelling are happening through this friction right in front of our eyes and are having a profound impact on our lives.

Give a listen to...

· Miral Kotb to explore the intersection of art and technology
·
Natasha Tsakos to stretch how we should think about designing the theatre experience
·
Ben Wellington for a new perspective on how data can be used to tell fun stories
·
Desmond Patton on how data could impact saving people's lives
· Thought leader and entrepreneur,
Lance Weiler, for an intro into the Empathy Lab?-?elevating storytelling and mobilizing movements

Great Storytelling = Great Bravery

There is a common thread among our profound storytellers in the Broadway business and that's the theme of bravery.

Give a listen to...

· Terry Teachout on the importance of gambling for greatness in the stories we put on stage
·
Ayad Akhtar for a reminder that the power of more intimate storytelling has not disappeared
· Nor has the importance of truly original stories?-?that Jujamcyn Theatre's
Jordan Roth also reminds us of
·
Alex Dinelaris to be enlightened on the surprising inevitably in the stories we love
·
Tina Landau on why "A SpongeBobian Approach to Art and Life" may be the medicine we all need
· Dancer,
Lindsey Croop, on how every movement we make has the power to tell a story
·
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul on the great power of songwriting in a digital era

We Are Only as Good as the Audiences Attract

Audience development is the single most important topic we need to address, and we've had many speakers over the years working to expand the audiences we attract.

Give a listen to...

· Artistic Director, DJ Kurs, of the Deaf West Company, on how our limitations are also our super powers
·
Katie Sweeney, self-proclaimed "Autism Warrior Mom", on her experience of making live theater accessible to all audiences
·
Gardiner Comfort on the importance of proactively reaching out in our communities to those with disabilities
·
Tom Schumacher, of Disney Theatricals, on the importance of embracing all audiences
· NYC DOE Principal,
Vincent Gassetto, on the profound impact growing the arts in classrooms can have
·
Kanya Balakrishna, co-founder of The Future Project, on how giving kids a chance to dream may be the best path to re-imagining our education systems
·
Osh Ghanimah, founder of Broadway for All, on the importance of making our stages a more accurate reflection of the audiences we serve
Lester Vrtiak, of Sing for Hope, for a reminder to us all?-?that everyone can be an artist
·
Hannah Kohl on why we should always consider saying YES

Tomorrows Innovators for Broadway Will Come from Unexpected Places

Innovation is the lifeblood of growth. While there are some obvious commonalities in the voices we've seen on stage, there is a consistent theme?-?there are many paths to innovation.

Give a listen to...

· Emily Simoness on how the path, not the plan, drove her to entrepreneurship
·
Mark Fischer and Michael Keeler, of Mark Fisher Fitness, on the business impact and power of a positive business plan
·
Zachary Schmahl, of the delicious Schmakery's Cookies, for a taste of entrepreneurship
·
Yao Huang for a look into the world of talent incubators
·
Laura Heywood on the importance of perseverance for the things we care about most
·
Donald Shupak on his 4 C's for success and how he made what is known as the greatest "sports deal of the century"

Great Storytellers Know the Importance of Endurance

We all know any path we choose is loaded with hard work. But the endurance it takes to persist is often lost on people; and it was uplifting to see the theme of perseverance consistently pop up.

Give a listen to...

· Actor, Alton Fitzgerald White, on his experience performing in The Lion King on Broadway, redefining what service means and how it can help you stay grounded to achieve your dreams
·
George Takei for a personal look into his world and his Broadway debut at age 75
· Writer/Comedian,
Phoebe Robinson, for some fun advice on making Broadway more accessible
·
Bobby Lopez on his journey towards hit musicals Book of Mormon, Avenue Q and Disney's Frozen

The Power of the Human Spirit Should Never Be Underestimated

In a business that is centered on storytelling, it's amazing when you take a step back to look at the bigger picture from a fresh perspective?-?and the humanity behind every story.

Give a listen to...

· Journalist, Mark McEwen, for a story on a life-changing stroke, a year of rehab, and how to get back up again
· Writer/actor,
James Lecesne, to challenge and question how we define "making it big"
·
Benjamin Scheuer for a perspective on the power of turning (very) bad into good

Broadway Can Learn A lot from the World Around It; And Vice-a-Versa

One of my favorite aspects of TEDxBroadway is hearing from voices outside of our world. I've always felt that innovation is best fueled through novel, passionate, and often unexpected voices.

Give a listen to...

· Scientist, Ainissa Ramirez, on the intersection of where arts and science meet
· Columbia University Climate scientist,
Adam Sobel, on the realities of climate change and how it impacts all communities?-?including Broadway
·
Dr. Laurie Santos for a talk on monkey minds, human minds and theatre
Ellen Isaacs on the power of ethnography and how Broadway may want to steal a page from its handbook
·
Rachelle Pereira for the most important data point in maximizing your personal performance
·
Sree Sreenivasan for a glimpse into a world where attention is the most valuable currency

And this is just a sample of the talks! There are many more here.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with a lot of amazing people stepping up to support. We've also welcomed some amazing bands that always enhance the day including Joe Iconis, Charlie Rosen, and Freestyle Love Supreme.

Kudos to our long-term sponsors from the Jujamcyn Theatres, Shubert Organization, The Nederlander Organization, Disney Theatricals, Broadway Across America, Google and the many others who have helped make TEDxBroadway a reality.

I hope to see you all on February 27th. It's going to be another inspiring day!



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