TEDx Broadway: Matt Sax on His Broadway

February 24th, 2012 § 2 comments

As some of you may be aware, I live-blogged the TEDx Broadway conference held in late January and my frequent updates stood as the most public record of the full event until the videos went live just recently.

Among the presentations, I have to say that the one which most affected me was the hip-hop editorial by Matt Sax (@MattSax), who has created and performed in the shows Clay and Venice. While I am slightly out of hip-hop’s target demo, Matt’s rhythmic commentary on his Broadway experiences past, present and future galvanized me and thrilled the audience as well (though the lack of audience miking doesn’t do our response justice). You can watch on YouTube to see his performance or view it below (he does two pieces; I’m focused on the second one), but the words alone have enormous power. Matt was generous enough to transcribe his handwritten work and give me permission to reproduce it.  I suspect you may find it eminently quotable.

Bravo, Matt!

*    *   *

tedxbroadway – 2012

by Matt Sax

Twenty years ago I saw my first Broadway show

The Secret Garden starring John Cameron Mitchell


who would have known, twelve years later Mr. Mitchell

would give me a carwash in the 2nd row


after that first show I devoured scores day by day.

Memorized every lyric on the Great White Way


Was entranced by the majesty – whether comedy or tragedy

I’d imagine shows in my mind doing the play by play.


I knew my fate was sealed by the time I was ten

didn’t know how to begin, only knew I had to get in.


My dreams were affected like never before

wanted to put on a mask – I couldn’t sleep no more


So I trained to be an actor. A serious actor…who sings

but soon I knew I also wanted to create puppet strings


See I’m a product of a generation of entitled, impatient, apathetic,

lazy children who all feel alone… We created the internet


so we wouldn’t have to leave home. We are also brave

and process information differently


We combine multiple mediums

From rap shows to symphonies


We see music visually and hear images implicitly

We cross genre boundaries, prone to eccentricity


We’re a generation who tweets about the skeletons in our closet for recreation

We all have a voice and are prone to speak with exclamations


    I AM not a hipster

    or a skater

    or a thug

    or a hater

    I AM a great creator and I love the-ator


So where is Broadway going? What is the best it can be?

I think embracing this culture is a necessity.


I hate to say this – but Broadway is looking too much like Vegas

Retreads of old movies are never going to save us.


We need to look closer at the entertainment we’re affording them

We need to get back to creating stars instead of just importing them


And I believe in the importance of critics for chronicling our theatrical history –

But it can’t be that our collective fates are only written by Isherwood or Brantley


We ALL have a voice and we’re not afraid – look

what critic is gonna argue with a million “likes” on facebook?


We’re still in the world wild west where the internet’s free

And because of this the artists have a chance to shape the industry


Its important I swear

the opportunity’s there

to be at the forefront of pop culture

instead of in the rearview mirror


If I’m a little naïve – okay – I know the dollar is important

but for the future of our business we’re alienating people who can’t afford it.


As long as we create shows for only people who can see them

we run the risk of transforming the theatre into a museum.


Today we are willing to pay but expect content for free

so I say we take our Broadway shows and stream them live for a small fee


It’ll expand our reach. A million people watching in Dubai

maybe could save us from the fate of Bonnie and Clyde


I know the finances suck. How can we create a show that sells

when the NY non-for profit houses can’t produce a musical without commercial help?


It’s a different world now and I have to say

we can have people’s ears and hearts before they or we have to pay.


and before the purists scream at me and cry out

fuck out of town, give me an internet tryout


Everyone’s online, from 90 year old jewish women to toddlers

so lets get the public’s opinion before we drop a million dollars.


And so twenty years from now, what do I imagine Broadway to be?

Well I hope and pray that future will include me.


Galinda wants to be popular and so do we. I want to hear

our songs on the radio and keep seeing them on TV


I want Broadway’s reach to expand past the nation

it’s my goal to tell stories to inspire my generation.


And I am humbled to be in the presence of all these people out here

it is an honor and a privilege to have pirated your ears.


copyright Matt Sax, included here by permission

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