Thursday, March 29, 2012

Taking Chances

I love to read a good book where an author takes a chance on the story and allows the characters to go beyond what is expected.

I'm thrilled when I read about someone switching careers midstream to chase a dream - because life is too short.

I'm aware that taking a chance may involve failure, but if you don't 'go for it' - you'll never know.

That is what a few friends did over 15 years ago when they decided to start their own theater company in New Jersey. I didn't know the people at the time (yet know most of them now), but they made the decision to view theater in a different way. Allowing the ensemble to shine and choosing shows that fit that genre.

I joined them as an actor several years later and then I began to lead them as an artistic director while we decided to shift focus from ensemble to 'lessor known' works...things people rarely get a chance to see. A few years ago, I walked away from the group to concentrate on my writing - but I am thrilled to say they are in their 15th anniversary season, lead artistically by an amazing woman (who I adore) and have learned that taking chances comes with great sacrifice...but also great reward.

4th Wall Theatre was always known for doing the musical that other groups seemed to shy away from. You wouldn't catch them doing "Annie" or "Oklahoma" - but you would find them doing "Das Barbecue" and "Dessa Rose". (Bet people reading this many not know those last two musicals, but both are gems that you should run to see if ever in your area.) A few years back, they took another chance and decided to do plays - still staying within their mission of choosing those others would sometimes not produce.

This weekend, they are doing that very thing with a small piece called "Speech & Debate". A play written by the then 27 year old playwright Stephen Karam that ran in NY a few years back and has had a life in a few theaters willing to take a chance with a play (with a title that doesn't garner enthusiasm). But the dark comedy makes a statement on the cultural of social media, the youth of today, and what it is like to be peering into adulthood in the age we live in. All while doing a 2 minute musical number of an accused witch from "The Crucible" that time travels to meet a teenage, gay Abe Lincoln....yes, that old story.

I personally can't wait to see the show this Friday night. Not only because I have such an affinity for this group and because I love live theater, but because I'm always going to applaud and champion those that are still not afraid to step out beyond the norm and take a chance.

I challenge all reading this to take a chance to. Go see a movie you'd usually not want to see. Read that book that is not what you are known to pick up. And if you're in Northern NJ, join me and check out this crazy play brought to us by a group who loves to live life on the edge.


  1. Bravo, 4th Wall!! Bravo, Greg for recognizing us!!

    1. You guys rock! (And YOU are one of the original founders and STILL there after all these years!!)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kergan! You're all about being a risk-taker. I know it!

  3. Sounds like a great group! Hope I get to see them someday!

    1. When you get to this side of the country...absolutely, Jeff!