hiatus |hīˈātəs|noun ( pl. hiatuses ) [ usu. in sing. ]a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process: there was a brief hiatus in the war with France.• Prosody & Grammar a break between two vowels coming together but not in the same syllable, as in the ear andcooperate .DERIVATIVEShiatal |-ˈātəl|adjectiveORIGIN mid 16th cent. (originally denoting a physical gap or opening): from Latin, literally ‘gaping,’ from hiare ‘gape.’

Or, in this instance, a brief break in the continuum of imho posts as a result of the author undergoing hip replacement revision surgery and, due to the amount of painkillers in his system, his current inability to form a cohesive or coherent thought…

We’ll be back online, next Wednesday.



Respecting Your Muse

What is the nature of creativity?

Where do the great ideas come from?

I don’t know, actually; I can only share with you my own process…

My own creative process is something that I didn’t actually even attempt to analyze for some time. That is probably largely due to the fact that I didn’t even realize that I had one. Nor did I work in an environment that embraced creativity. I was in Politics and Corporate Communications for many years until I was advised and encouraged by an insightful VP and mentor to “stay with me as long as you like, but I think you should go out and do this thing you are so good at doing!”

In San Francisco, I’d been being loaned by the phone company to City Hall for a succession of big, ceremonial productions at the behest of the late Steve Silver (creator of “Beach Blanket Babylon” – one of the longest-running theatrical productions in the world) as his assistant producer on these spectacles. Steve had discerned something in me that I’d never really thought about; a complexity of thought, a geometric sense of time and space, and the crucial absence of the Limitation of Possibility gene.

After several, successive periods of me being away from the office to work with Steve on a Fleet Week or a Royal Visit or the Super Bowl Ceremony, she (my above-mentioned mentor) took me to lunch and gifted me with the freedom to stay as long as I want, alongside the encouragement to follow my own path, “…success isn’t always found in the Boardroom…” was a truth to which I’d never been enlightened.

Previously, when essentially blindsided by my own inspiration, I would embrace and augment an idea once I’d noticed it; become excited by it and take it as far as I could, just to see what it might become. I’d never actually paid attention to when nor how the seeds of that inspiration may have been planted, how research and study was surreptitiously done by my subconscious, and how my brain worked to massage an idea before revealing it to my frontal lobes.

As this new career grew, my opportunity lay in helping others find and define their vision using my own creativity as a tool to make it real; keeping it aligned with a mission or goal, yet taking the germ of a vision to a place even the client may not have foreseen.

A fine line to walk; assessing how much of oneself to infuse or offer in creating experience. Ultimately, my enthusiasm and passion usually lead me to offer it all, tempering as I go, reining-in the ideas that are just too big or too out there rather than restraining myself, up-front, and offering only or simply what is expected.

There are plenty of Creators, though, who make fantastic livings by delivering what’s expected. There’s a decision for ya…and a conversation for another time.

I was fortunate to come up against a catalyzing experience – an epiphany of sorts – back in the ’90’s, that gave me the opportunity to truly appreciate and realize how my own creativity worked. I had been brought on as Creative Director for a landmark, national Industrial Theatre production company (that no longer exists, btw) based in NYC. Their pitch to me was that they’d experienced my work, seen what I can create, and wanted that as part of their arsenal.

One problem: the only people who were allowed client contact at first download were the SalesPeople.

So. The Account Reps’d go out on a call; meet the client, get their experience of the client’s vision and come back to the office. There, they’s sit in a conference room with me, gather around the table, tell me what [they thought] the client wanted and then sit back and wait for my wonderful, creative ideas on how to execute; as though creative concepts were akin to toothpaste one might simply squeeze out of a tube.

I lasted a month.

Lovely people; but that’s not how I work.

Since then, I have meticulously examined my process and learned to protect and nurture that process in order to deliver Experience well beyond expectation.

I’m not giving advice; I am, though, sharing what works for me, in no particular order…

Trust Oneself. Know that the answers, the concepts, the ideas will come. And relax. As I’ve posited in a previous post: keeping one’s eye on the goal, the experience wanted, the response envisioned…that is the most effective, reliable way to ensure success.

Not blindly, mind you. Listening remains a key component of creativity and creative collaboration.

Interview the Client. For me, there is nothing of greater value than the virtually subtextual information that can be gleaned through the first meeting with a client (if, indeed, the work is being done for a client). It is during that first encounter, when the right questions are asked, that the nuance is most clear, the personal motivations and inspirations behind whatever the Official Rationale may be shine through what might be a more formal conversation. This is where creative empathy and compassion become the rod and staff of the Creative; this is where subtext and inadvertent communication can be perceived by the sensitive Creative and woven into the process.

What the Creative perceives, the Creative creates.

Meet before musing. Meet the client before brainstorming with collaborators or partners. Enter that first meeting cold, sans preconception, with no virtual “box” or budget in mind and Learn. Listen.

Take what was learned in that first meeting and go experience the world with that as filter. For a day or ten, see things through this new, borrowed lens. Take things in, notice things differently. Just as the guy who’s recently bought a new car will suddenly notice every other car of the same model on the road where he hadn’t noticed, before; the sensitive Creative will receive impressions and data, visuals and experience in a slightly new and pivotally relevant way, after the First Meeting.

Offer the Brain for Collaboration. My practice, other than on the very rare occasion (hey, money talks!), is to never present concepts for sale. Rather, I present and offer myself and my body of work as my recommendation and market the opportunity to collaborate and create something compelling and resonant and of the client.

I do not sell concepts created in a vacuum of what might work. Rather; I guarantee that, working with me in partnership, the result will be something powerful and borne of the interaction: not something taken off a shelf, dusted off and sold.

But, that’s just me.

Know the venue, theatre or arena. There have been some spectacles I’ve created that have been initially inspired by the place in which they will manifest, be produced.

I once had the experience of conducting a live interview before an audience with Yves Pepin, the world-class creator of spectacle, founder of ECA2 in Paris and who, among a host of other once-in-a-lifetime spectacles, created the Eiffel Tower Millennium show.

At one point, I asked him where he found his inspiration. He said, in his eloquent, French-accented English, that he would go and sit in the space until the space spoke to him. Whether that was a desert where the venue or stadium may not yet have been built or a structure, already-standing; he would listen to the land or the architecture, awaiting inspiration.

To that, I stress the importance of being able to see and experience a given space before I write for it…if, in fact, the Experience is site-specific. For me, the enhancement to my creative process cannot be over-valued.

Share and Listen.  When a piece, component or passage inspires me, I share it with trusted peers, friends, colleagues and watch their reactions closely; listen to their responses, hear their suggestions – even if I wasn’t asking for suggestions… Y’just never know…

So, I strive to always listen with an open mind; exploring the possibility that a given idea might augment or enhance the Experience…including the consideration of completely new directions, just to see what it might look or feel like, if only in my mind’s eye.

Listening can’t be over-valued.

Finally; Allow the Mix to Simmer. Don’t rush yourself. After all the input, all the sharing, all the collaboration; the real creative work is actually done as I’m looking the other way. I sort of place the whole thing on a mental back burner or shelf where I might just catch a whiff of it, now and then, as I turn my attention to other things. Perhaps another project, perhaps just a movie or just living life.

More times than not, at some wonderful point, the form and framework, the shape of the new concept or Experience will drop, virtually fully-formed, into my mind. This is always a thrilling, exciting moment for me (I’ve still got it!). With that, I then know to whom I will reach out to collaborate creatively, who can realize the technical or artistic visions, what the music needs to be, what sort of Production Team I need to build…

The project is nowhere near complete; but the blueprint is there; the idea is born, ready to be raised and realized.



A further note; more or less in the context of last week’s conversation on Angst Alleviation…this time, with respect to talent and show.

When writing scripts and shows and, subsequently, staffing those shows for stage direction, I make it a practice to have someone at every exterior and interior entrance, every exit, every green room, dressing area or hallway corner, everywhere I plan to send, store or stage talent.

If at all possible, I keep that person on headset, if only for the one time in the show that s/he needs to communicate with me or I must reach out to that position to communicate a change, learn where a missing member of the cast might be, light or put out a fire, revise the show in the fly, or other direction.

Each of those individuals, long before the rehearsals begin, has participated in the production talk-through’s of the script and knows not only their own job, but also the jobs of those that precede, surround and follow theirs, along with the ramifications of mistakes, missteps or “Acts of God.”

In other words, they know the show.

They also serve an often overlooked and quite valuable purpose: that being the answering of the nearly-unasked, sometimes whispered / sometimes shouted question…of being on-the-spot to circumvent second-guessing and “independent decision-making” on the part of those who don’t have that part. In other words, this is Staffing to Keep Things Smooth and Calm and to Handle Things Effectively and Seamlessly when Things Go Wrong.

So, take a production that’s been talked through and planned amongst the tech and crew; now, add the talent (or speaker, or any person who moves from one part of the stage to another, on or off), and here are two, possible scenari…

First, Scenario 1:


“Alice, Darling; walk over to that doorway, would you, and wait ‘til we call you for your entrance?”

Alice walks over to the doorway. Touches it, opens it, looks around to see if there are any other doorways, calls out to the Director, 

Alice (Anxiously. Gripping the doorknob):

“THIS doorway…?”


“Yep; that one…”


(Pointing to the door she is holding with her other hand), “This one, then.”


“Yes. Thank you, Alice.”

And, then, Scenario 2:


“Alice, Darling; walk over to that doorway, would you, and wait ‘til we call you for your entrance?”

Alice walks over to the doorway, where she is met by Thomas, standing by the door.

Alice: (Anxiously, to Thomas)

“This Doorway?”


“Yep. Right here.”



I think this makes my point. Alice is immediately at ease; and can ask any extra or extraneous questions of Thomas-the-stage-crew-guy without having to interrupt the Director or anyone else. The oblique benefit to this is that she has “someone who knows” right there, with her, while she awaits her cue or direction.

This makes for an exceptionally more relaxed, responsive and productive team; for both crew and cast. (Allow me to posit, here, that I am not “dissin’” the Talent. Their job is the character and performance and knowing their stage direction; offstage, out of their purview, it is only natural that they may be insecure about their perceptions of what has been asked and nervous about simply being where they are supposed to be. Staffing in this way assures confidence and concomitant confidence.

I love alliteration.

I am fortunate in that many of my projects are of a level that holds some mystique or glamour, qualities that entice intern-level staffing that is often happy to work for food, the experience and a place to sleep. While I wouldn’t take undue or unfair advantage of kids like that; it is also a great opportunity for them to offer themselves to intern and for me to scout future paid crew members. I think everyone wins, in these situations, and it starts a lot of young people on the road to their own network- and experience-building pathways.

The cost of supporting these positions is minimal, especially when held against the resulting calmness on set and during the show. Especially now, with wireless ClearCom increasingly affordable; supporting this staffing tool is incalculably valuable.

Subtextually, staffing to this degree shows the talent that they are being considered valuable. This pays off, immensely.


Writing this reminds me of when I produced the 40th Anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations at San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, where the original charter was signed.

There were six of the original signers, still living, and we brought them to the ceremony as Respected VIP Guests; to be presented, onstage at a Major Moment.

I don’t actually remember why we put them where we put them to await their cue; it must have had something to do with the speed at which they could walk and the distance from the stage to the actual Green Room. In any event, I had them sequestered and seated, backstage, behind a drape, in the dark, waiting for my stage managers to come and escort them onto the stage.

As the ceremony began, my Right Hand Guy, John T., came to me and said, “Kile, come here; you’ve got to take a look at this…” Turning off my headset, I walked back with John, behind the onstage set, and saw The Six, each sitting in the dark, head bowed, hands in laps, awaiting one of the team to come and get them.

“Look how they trust you,” he said, “think who these people are and look how they trust you!”

I have never forgotten that image and what it meant to them and to me; and the commitment to keeping my companies at ease remains paramount in my priorities in everything I do.

Thanks, John.

In closing, a short, bonus “outtake” from Scenario 2, above:

Alice walks over to the doorway, where she is met by Thomas, standing by the door.

Alice: (Anxiously, to Thomas)

“This Doorway?”


“Yep. Right here.”


“Thanks… Um, what’s your name…? I haven’t seen you before…” “Are you new…?”


“I’m Thomas. This is my first production with Kile.”


“Oh, wow; New in Town; perhaps you would like for me to give you a tour of my favorite City, sometime?” What are you doing after rehearsal, Thomas…?”

Cut to Director…

Angst Alleviation

When one witnesses a Producer, on the Day of Show, moving fast, running around, walkie-talkie against the ear and in heated discussions with crew or cast, putting out fires, sweating, being extremely busy; one is likely witnessing a Producer who is under-qualified for the job s/he has taken and who is in way over his/her head.

A Producer who knows the job and is good at it has resolved or circumvented all foreseeable problems, has all teams built and briefed, tech is spec’d, riders are filled, script is familiar to all support players by Day of Show. On that day, the competent producer awakens refreshed, confident, with everything in order…fully abreast of the status of all components of the production, having thought through the myriad possible negative eventualities and, if necessary, prepared to switch to Plan B….or C…or…

“Producers” who are swamped and busy on Show Days are, IMHO, the sort that give actual, good Producers a bad name. A competent Producer’s time on Show Day is spent in handholding the client and being available to make last-minute decisions for the unforeseen eventualities. Show Day should be calm.

All these “shoulds”…

Yes, actually: Show Day ought be about tiny tweaking of the production, final adjustments, dealing with water main breaks and recalcitrant smoke alarms…not building the show.

No angst.

There are three, primary things among the hundreds on the original To Do list that have and continue to serve me and my productions extremely well in the run-up to a show. And, here they are:

One Document

From the moment plans begin for a production of any magnitude, a single document is created to which only one person has editorial access and on which each and every single component and action of the production is included. If it’s going to happen, it’s on that document; if it is not on that document, it does not happen. I call this my “TimeLine;” it includes all components of a runsheet, production schedule and script.

It works, fantastically.

From the beginning, with the very first decisions, every meeting is listed (along with where and when, who’s attending and who’s responsible for seeing that the meeting actually happens), every site visit, every delivery, every parking slot and load-in time… As the production grows, the document grows, and begins to reflect every call-time, every warning, every cue and every speech or bit of script.

In my productions, whether I am creative producer or director, I generally build and maintain this document, myself. Something changes; it only becomes official when it shows up in the TimeLine. Someone wants to change their script; that needs to be reflected on the TimeLine (or the change will likely not show up on the TelePrompTer).

In this way; I know what components are not showing up on deadline and who isn’t delivering, I have a clear sense of timing – of how long the show runtime looks, how tight the schedule is, where there is play and where we are going to need to shave or cut something.

I recently was a part of a production where the client showed up on the day of the show with new scripts (in new typefaces) with no indication of what had been changed and what had remained constant. No one knew the status of the script until the dress rehearsal, and even then the show was in flux ‘til the last minute. We pulled it off, but a central, respected and adhered-to document such as I use would have alleviated this dynamic.

Every addition or change goes through one person, the fulcrum, and is distributed as a pdf.

Production Meetings

In parallel with the development and maintenance of the TimeLine Document is the Full Team Production Meeting. To me, this is obvious; a Gimme. But I have been surprised at the number of times I witness Producers who short-circuit their own productions by dismissing the importance of this complete forum, in advance. Instead, they seem to hold information as valuable in its secrecy and dole out details on a “need-to-know” basis.

I’m the opposite; I believe that information is most valuable when shared.

Thoroughly communicating with all teams on a production is no substitute for getting everyone (and, by that, I mean EVERYONE) involved in the production in the same place at the same time to talk through the script, minute-by-minute. In my experience, these documents very often define moments and action down to the half- or quarter-minute; not only giving the team a compelling sense of timing and order of show, but also making clear the flow of activity for each, individual component or person from offstage arrival to onstage performance, and back again.

This exercise, conducted a few weeks prior to the show (and again, a day or two before) gives everyone from Craft Service to Stage Manager the very clear picture of what is to happen when as well as where everything and everyone else is at any given moment. VERY handy when something goes awry and a quick substitution is needed. Everyone knows who and what is where and can make informed, professional decisions or suggestions and substitutions on the fly; not depending on finding a higher-up to assess the situation.

A thoroughly-informed crew of professionals is invaluable; and will make the Producer look damn good in some of the most difficult situations.

They can also save the Production money.

As different teams (electrical, technical, staging, lighting, props, whatever) share their load-in requirements and logistical pieces of the puzzle; I have witnessed, time and again, the spontaneous suggestion from the contractors to save the production money by sharing truck space, adjusting or trimming load-in and load-out times, all sort of cooperative logistics borne of being in the same room. Usually, after the full talk-through of the script, the group splits into break-outs for at-the-moment problem solving.

This also makes for an exceptionally cohesive production team. Darn handy at Load-in and through the show to Load-Out.

Production crews very often get quite a chuckle at my TimeLines…and they also keep and save them; as these documents reflect the vision for the show and communicate, at an almost visceral level, the tightness with which the show must run…and, it generally does run just that tight.


Finally; listen.

To everyone.

You never know.

Never assume one knows what another is about to say. Listen before formulating a response. Listen.

This serves the Producer and the Production in two (of probably hundreds of) ways.

First: solutions to problems can show up from the most unlikely places. Back when we were having a full production meeting for Closing Ceremonies for the Gay Games in NYC (Cyndi Lauper, Patti Labelle, Phyllis Hyman, Armistead Maupin, Sir Ian McKellan, 300 Jerry Mitchell choreographed dancers and 11,000 athletes – just a little show), we encountered a problem that we were having trouble navigating our way through during one of these production meetings.

Suddenly, from the back of the room where he’d been sipping coffee and eating a donut, one of our drivers growled out, “…Well, back in the day, when we were touring Carol Channing in ‘Hello Dolly,’ what we did was…” and he offered a great solution to our dilemma.

You never know; listen.

Ten extra minutes of listening can save hours, days, thousands of dollars.

The other thing about Listening, the magical thing, is the transformation of the group dynamic when it is practiced.

Here’s a Truth: when people feel authentically Heard, they become far less likely to resist and far more likely to accept and embrace whatever the results or outcome of a conversation or process.

IF they feel authentically heard.

This means, on the other hand, that we must listen, authentically. Until the statement or idea is out, communicated, fully articulated. There can be no answer-building until the thought is fully expressed.

A Producer (or any leader) who does this will

  1. likely learn something new or see a new perspective, more times than not, and
  2. experience far less, if any, resistance to the final decision when it is made, even when it is not in alignment with the original arguments posed against it.

A Professional Crew will respect the fact of your Listening and is likely to be more supportive of the project and deferential to the Producer, ongoingly.

Plan, plan, plan and listen, listen, listen; then, make your best decision and move forward. Just don’t forget your TimeLine!