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Live Active Cultures

Ron Schneider's "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder" offers juicy anecdotes and lessons on live performance

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"Creating this 'Miracle of the First Time' is a central discipline of any live performance. The only way this thing works is if you show up every night … ready to pretend you've never sung these songs and never heard these jokes. … The moment you decide it's more important to amuse yourself or another cast member, the guests will pick up on it." Will someone please recite this to the next touring cast trudging through the Bob Carr?

"Especially in the competitive atmosphere of Disney or Universal, the only way to convince people to hire you as a writer is to be seen writing. This opens you up to being ripped off and rewritten, but it can't be helped." This rings depressingly true for creatives outside the theme park industry as well.

"No matter how brilliant your original idea may be … if you can't pull it off, change the idea. … If you're going to invest the time, money and effort (and most precious of all, your guests' credulity) in an idea, make sure it's going to work out the way you wanted." That's sage advice the Imagineers behind Animal Kingdom's perpetually broken Yeti should have heeded.

"To create the illusion that the guest is a participant in the show … the performers must appear to react spontaneously to their input. This definitely calls for improvisation while the show is being created and polished. But over the long run, improv becomes less and less vital, being supplanted by acting skills, timing and a good memory." Good improv is impressive, but overvalued of late. Here's hoping Schneider's style of old-fashioned craft makes a comeback.

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