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From Bill – Oh, Lord, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

July 19, 2013

One of the fundamental challenges of creating original work is finding a way to talk coherently about it. Or the challenge of doing anything as “intangible” as art and having to find a tangible way to communicate about it – when it itself is its best form of expression. As Jp says, “If I could describe it, I wouldn’t have to do it.”

So, this goes across the board – from the need to have a clear and juicy description of our show for marketing purposes (when we haven’t even finished writing the show!) to the constant writing and rewriting of the mission of a theatre company that’s evolving with different people at the helm but still dedicated to the same values – which are? And can we really say that in public?

Lately we’ve been working on a couple of these challenging “branding” tasks.

The tag line. That’s those brief descriptions that come after the name of the organization. Back 25 or so years ago, Touchstone’s tag line was: “All the world’s our stage – innovation the script.” Later we took up: “The Lehigh Valley’s Resident Professional Ensemble Theatre.” Boring, but… accurate. Or: “Passionate*Provocative*Playful” …maybe a little too cute. Now we’re onto: “Reinventing the Art of Theatre.” Or how about… “Where Life and Art Become One”

…Oh, it never stops.

That’s the way it’s done around here. Taking the ideas and getting them to go around and around in a loop – generating ideas, riffing off of someone else’s inspiration. Until finally the appropriate person puts us out of our misery and just chooses – accepting that it’s never perfect – maybe someday we’ll work it out. We’ll try again next year.


Presently Jp and the Ensemble are working to write “the mission” for the China Project: Journey from the East. Not that we didn’t already have one, but one that was easier to get our heads around, easier to pass on to you, “the general public,” as they say. Here’s some of the scintillating conversation.


I think you get the idea. Language. Perceptions. Endless refinements and adjustments. At least Touchstone is air conditioned.

But it’s all important, very very important. Not just because we want, need folks to understand our intentions, what we’re doing, why and how we’re special – but for ourselves. I think the work is more important in those terms than any other. As an artist, as an arts “institution,” we have to keep crunching what that means, and how to make it real now.

Together, with words, we grasp the ungraspable, our ever evolving and intangible purpose—moment by moment reinventing the art of theatre for our audiences and ourselves.

We want a band that plays loud and hard every night
That doesn’t care how many people are counted at the door
That would travel one million miles and ask for nothing more than a plate of food and a place to rest
They’d strike chords that cut like a knife
It would mean so much more than t-shirts or a ticket stub
They’d stop at nothing short of a massacre
Everyone would leave with the memory that there was no place else in the world
And this was where they always belonged
We would dance like no one was watching
With one fist in the air
Our arena just basements and bookstores across an underground America
With this fire we could light
Just gimme a scene where the music is free
And the beer is not the life of the party
There’s no need to shit talk or impress
‘Cause honesty and emotion are not looked down upon
And every promise that’s made and bragged
is meant if not kept
We’d do it all because we have to, not because we know why
Beyond a gender, race, and class, we could find what really holds us back
Let’s make everybody sing
That they are the beginning and ending of everything
That we all are stronger than everything they taught us that we should fear

Amen! Put that into a tag line.

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