24 February 2012

Quote of the day: "Amateurs copy, professionals steal"

Amateurs copy, professionals steal. I've heard this idea before, but I was reminded of it when I watched the American Theatre Wing: Working in the Theatre video podcast, where they did a panel discussion with four Tony Award winning actresses from musical theater -- Laura Benanti, Beth Leavel, Bebe Neuwirth and Alice Ripley.

At 8:12, Alice Ripley brings up this idea:
And then, if you're going to play Evita. You would just have to steal everything from Patti LuPone or from Elaine Page. ... Because if you don't do that, you're a fool. You know, and then once you look at it that way, when you do it then, if you're recreating something, then it's still different because it's you and you're so different from everybody else. But like it's like you have to copy as much as you can. Actually, what is it, "amateurs copy and pros steal?" ... So steal it...
At 18:00, Bebe Neuwirth responds to Ripley's earlier comment:
I did an understudy with [director] once. After rehearsal, he said "do it if they're doing it and it works, do it." And I think the distinction that you have to make is, as you [Ripley] said before, is interesting when you said "amateurs copy, professionals steal." ... To copy something means ... there's something on the surface. But if you steal it, you're actually making it your own, and you are investing in that. Then there's something within it that ... becomes you.
The new thing I learned is that not only do you want to "steal" without shame, but you also want to make it your own. It's a good plan to copy people you admire until you can do things by yourself, but you don't want to get stuck doing a pale imitation of them. You want to make it part of you, with the full weight of your confidence and personality behind it.

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