[Skip Navigation]

Poetry Xtras » "Truth To Tell" by Jared Carter

Poetry Xtras provide brief commentaries, cultural & literary sign posts, or anecdotes about poems featured on Poetry X, written by the poet or a critic expert in the poem.

There is a mysterious side to the theater—and to opera and similar stage productions—that is glamorous and shadowy and magical. There is also a nuts and bolts side—the realm of the lighting technicians, the set builders, the costumers, the stage hands, the musicians in the pit, even the janitors and the people in the ticket office. A man I know, an eminently successful Broadway playwright, once explained to me that the director's task is the most difficult of all, since mounting a show on Broadway—especially a musical—is like "painting with colored mice." He named all the different performers, actors, dancers, technicians, and specialists who are brought together to make a show. But the vision must come from the director. He must paint the picture. "It's like being given a blank canvas and all these pots of paint," he said, "but instead of brushes, you have a cage full of mice. And you're going to make a picture. So you take out the first mouse and dip it in the blue paint, and you draw a line across the canvas. It looks OK. You put that mouse down, and take up another mouse, and dip it in red, and make another line. You put that mouse down, and reach for a mouse to dip in the green paint, but in the meantime the blue mouse has run across the canvas making a different line, one you don't want. You put down the green mouse, and while you're reaching for a yellow mouse, the red mouse goes crazy and starts running back and forth across the canvas. Pretty soon all the mice are scampering back and forth trailing different colors in all directions, and there's no picture at all. And that's what it's like trying to direct a Broadway show."
—Jared Carter

More Info

This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any Internet device.