Note To Self

Hey!

It’s me. Any by “me” I mean “you”.

I’m like 10 years older than you are when you’re reading this but WOW we’ve been through so much together. I just thought that maybe I could save you some trouble and catch you up to speed. There’s so much I know now and just figured you should know it, too.

First, you’re gonna get there. It’s going to happen. I can’t tell you when - NO SPOILERS - but just you wait. Stay patient and you’ll get there.

While we’re at it - you don’t have to go down any path but your own. Do whatever makes you happy, even if you don’t think any of it fits together. Turns out the thing that makes it fit together is because it’s all part of you.

When it comes to the things that really matter, don’t be cheap. Put your money where your mouth is. Invest in yourself every chance you get.

Also, here’s a few pieces of obvious advice:

If you think about someone, let them know.

If someone does something nice for you, send them a handwritten note. (You’re going to buy a typewriter in your 30’s and start typing those notes. It’s a long story…)

If someone inspires you, reach out. If someone reaches out to you, go above and beyond.

If something goes wrong, take responsibility. And, if something goes well, be sure to credit the people who made it happen.

Look around right now and take it all in. You’ll never be exactly who you are at this very moment, so make it count.

There’s going to be loss and pain and heartbreak and disappointment. People you love are going to let you down and strangers are going to make your day.

Life is one complex, beautiful, gut wrenching thing - but don’t shy away from it. Get in there and experience every ounce of it. Don’t look away and always keep coming back for more.

Waiting behind every “no” is a big, fat “YES”. Every devastating experience will yield more happiness than you could possibly imagine. But you can’t have one without the other.

I’ve said too much. Just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s all going to be fine.

Oh, one last thing. Your keys fell behind the desk and got pinned against the wall. Don’t forget I told you that. It’ll save you a couple hours of searching and keep you from losing your shit.

See you soon.

— MT


Photo: Trainman Photography

How To Watch A Show

So you got a Groupon to a big show tonight? Or a half price ticket? Or won them in a raffle? You read about something cool on TripAdvisor? Or just Googled “something fun to do on a Thursday”?

Great!

Now you just show up and hang out, yeah? It’s just like going to a bar or restaurant or hanging out with friends, right?

Not quite. There’s a little more to it than that.

And, since it seems an overwhelming amount of people in Chicago audiences aren’t sure how to watch a show (I once saw someone texting during HAMILTON!) I’ve put together a handy checklist for you to make sure you blend in with the true theater-goers.

Follow these steps and you’ll be a great audience member in no time at all…

  1. Dress Up - Do it! Chances are you’re on a date or a work event or out with friends. Maybe you’ll take a picture as a couple or a selfie with the performers. You might even get dinner before. A little effort won’t kill you, right? I’m not talking a tuxedo or ball gown - just maybe leave the ripped jeans and flip flops at home. Plus, it just feels good to dress up, get out of the house, and do something new and exciting.

  2. Get There Early - Doors open at 7? Great, you should probably be there a little earlier. There will be lines and delays happen. If you’re driving, parking will probably be an issue. Public transportation isn’t always reliable either, so give yourself some extra time. When you show up late and you’re not allowed to enter the show, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  3. Turn Your Phone Off - Seriously, turn your phone off. Not vibrate, not airplane mode. Turn it ALL THE WAY OFF. Don’t text or tweet. The screen lights up your face. It’s annoying for performers and for the people around you. Also, most theaters don’t allow photos or videos, and why would you want those anyway? You’re never going to watch that shaky, blurry, 30 minute vertical video of the show you just watched. Plus, you never want to be the one person who has to frantically search for their phone to silence it in the middle of an act. (I can’t speak for other performers, but do that at mine and I’ll be forced to reveal your deepest, darkest, most personal secrets.)

  4. Don’t Check Your Phone - “How can I check my phone if it’s turned off?”, I hear you say. I’ll tell you how. The show reaches intermission or you need to go to the restroom. You switch on your phone to fill the time and suddenly you’re back in 2019 scrolling Instagram and mindlessly texting your friends. You forget that a moment ago you were watching the founding fathers rap and getting wrapped up yourself. The second you turn on your phone you’ve cheated yourself of that experience. You’ve ruined the feeling those performers have worked hard to create. Don’t do it! Keep your phone off and get lost in the show. I promise it’s worth it!

  5. Don’t Talk - It’s one thing to react to something during a show. Leaning over to your significant other to say “That’s so true!” is quite different from having a full-blown conversation mid-show. I’ve seen people take phone calls, yell to people at the other end of the row, and talk loudly the whole way through a performance. Please don’t! Your whispered chatter carries through the space. It’s hard to deal with as a performer and incredibly disrespectful to the people around you. Every time I go to the movies I have to ask at least one person to stop talking. Don’t be that person.

  6. It’s Not All About You - You may be celebrating an anniversary or a bachelorette party or a birthday. You might be on a first date or out with your entire office. However, unless you’ve paid for a private performance, there are other people in the audience who bought a ticket for the same show you’re seeing. It’s not all about you. Sure, have a good time - laugh, cry, enjoy the show - but don’t let your enjoyment overwhelm the enjoyment of others. This is supposed to be an inclusive experience. Theater brings people together so don’t let your energy become too much that it pulls the audience apart.

I’m not just a performer - I’m a theatre lover.

I see a lot of shows - A LOT of theatre. My wife and I try to catch as many shows as possible. We go to the movies 1-2 times a week. We attend local discussions, theatrical premieres, musicals, improv shows, and concerts.

It’s how we spent our date nights in college and it’s our favorite way to spend an evening in the Windy City now. We can’t get enough.

But being an audience member takes effort and focus. It’s about respecting a performer’s craft and showing your appreciation for their performance. When we get distracted - or worse, become the distraction ourselves - we aren’t only being disrespectful. We’re robbing ourselves of something meaningful and unexpected. It’s up to us to meet the performers in the middle, in hopes of having a one-of-a-kind experience together.

Not Knowing

Every day you’re faced with hundreds of tiny, micro-choices.

Forgot a movie quote? You can choose to look it up right now or be cool not knowing.

Want to know what song that was? Sha-zam! There it is. Or maybe you don’t need to know.

Movie ratings, yelp reviews, the latest headlines. To know, or not to know. That is the question.

Our devices have made the choice of knowing/not knowing so common that we don’t give it a second thought. We don’t consider these choices like we once did, we just get to know.

Enter me. Upstage center.

I have a gift for you.

Every Wednesday through the end of June in Chicago, then six shows a week for six weeks in Pittsburgh. Or at your college this fall or corporate event this winter. Or The Mystery Show at ████████. Every show I do, I’m giving this gift away for free.

I’m giving you the gift of not knowing.

I’m releasing you from the pattern of constant answers and information you carry with you on a daily basis. I’m freeing you from the confines of your google-able existence. I’m removing the choice between knowing and not knowing.

You get to leave my show with a mystery. More mystery than you’ve had in quite some time.

You don’t want to know. You just don’t know it yet.


For a complete list of upcoming shows & ticket info, visit this page.