And, what effect have they had on the show? Well, they've certainly kept our spirits up in difficult times. They are the conduit through which the audience response is most easily manifested so when people say "We're not closing the show because people that do come love it." It's really them saying, you know, to me "It's my sixth time." "It takes me out of myself." "I'm having a good time." "It takes me away from work." "It's a bit of a healing." They express what the rest of the audience is trying to tell us but we don't talk to them. I think they've had incredible word-of-mouth and I think the Internet has ... one of the most fundamental ways that the Broadway geometry has shifted back to a more neutral place, and the power has shifted out of the critics' hands and back into the producers' and the actors' hands, or the creators' hands. The triangle is producers, creators, meaning creative team including actors, and critics. The triangle had shifted too much to critics I think and the Internet and the League was one way of circumventing that unbalanced geometry. Did that answer that question?

NR: Yes.

DS: I think that's the main contribution. They showed other producers that you could theoretically bypass the critics, not bypass, but you can have a show run in spite of.

NR: You can pick whatever order you want to answer these, but what's the best part and the worst part of your job?

DS: The worst part of my job?

NR: Yeah. There's got to be something bad.

DS: Fatigue, drain, strain, the strain it has on my life, other than my professional life. That I don't have time for my personal things. My personal relationships have suffered. My relationship to my environment has suffered, if you want to call my spiritual relationship has suffered. My health has suffered. My ability to encounter other professional projects has suffered. All as a result of physical and mental strain just trying to keep up with the demands of the piece. The best part of it is ... The best part of my job ... (laughs) Oh, God, that's really tough. What do you guys think?

JG: US.

DS: Besides that. What's the best part of my job? What does it look like I enjoy most, Jen?

AB: Being out there.

JG: (teasing) Having a room full of burgeoning actors and actresses sitting at your feet ... and pontificating a sermon on the mount.

DS: Mm hm.

JG: I mean that's flattering. I know you enjoy that. I know you like sharing. I know you like having the chance to speak to people and maybe give them a little guidance 'cause you've often mentioned, "I wish there was someone in my past like me who said 'OK, here's a pitfall and here's a good way to go.'" I think it's kind of nice that you're in a position to do that.

DS: That's true. Yes, that's probably true. The nicest thing is helping friends, and new friends, but mostly old friends succeed, get work, get out of debt, whatever it is I can help people do as a result of this position that I've been put in for a little while. That's probably the best part. But there's many things that run a very close second.

NR: What Jennifer said segues nicely into my next question. What's the best advice you were given?

DS: "Don't show, just be." Which goes for rehearsals, which goes for people. Don't worry about showing someone. In other words, on stage, don't show that you're angry, just be angry. Just be in the moment. Be in the scene. Don't worry about showing somebody. In rehearsals, don't show someone you ... just be there. Don't make a show of it. Let your work speak for itself. Don't talk too much. Don't make a show of it. Just be it. That's probably the best ... I don't know who said that.

Oh, I take that back. There is one other thing I used to follow a lot, which guided me through a lot. Which is ... Lawrence Olivier said ... I used to follow this a lot. This was a big thing for me. (Laughing) I told you I like a dare. It's a good thing. I like a dare. Lawrence Olivier said, "If you want to be an actor, you should astound yourself with your personal courage every day." Which to me meant once a day, at least once a day. Astound yourself with your personal courage, which means do something you weren't going to do, or were too frightened to do, and if you can't, you weren't meant to be an actor, 'cause it's too tough a row to hoe. And I used that a lot to get through hesitant situations. Like, if you can't do this, you're not going to be an actor. If you can't pretend you're a beggar in the subway with a cup in your hand, and whatever it is that you have to do for this role, or whatever. I use that all the time. That's probably the best advice because it made me very daring.

NR: What do you do when you're completely off or on vacation?

DS: VACATION????

NR: Well, what would you do if you had vacation? What do you wish you had more time for?

DS: Reading and the gym. And travel. But I sort of don't think I can travel while this show's going on so I don't think of that as concurrent activities. You know, when it's over then I'll go. What was the other part of the question?

NR: What do you do when you're off, or on vacation, if that ever happens?

DS: Well, I try to regenerate but I also have to take care of my life. It's hard. I just try and keep up without drowning - whether it's taxes or returning phone calls or whatever it is I just don't seem to have enough time in the day to even get the little, just the minimum done. I'm drowning usually - drowning in paperwork, drowning in scripts to read, drowning in rehearsals or publicity events to go to.

NR: If you had something to do over again what would it be?

DS: Yeah, when I wrote those Ten Commandments on the tablets, I probably would have done three tablets, I think it's easier to read.

NR: OK. That's it? So, you've done every single thing the way you've wanted to do it.

DS: No, but I don't think that way. That's not my paradigm. I don't look at them as balls in a pinball - "I want another shot at that if I can just hit that flipper faster." That's not the paradigm for life for me. Things occur, you encounter them as best you can and they inform the next thing that comes along. If you were to go back and change them then you wouldn't be so informed to encounter that next event that way. I mean, you're talking about changing fundamental dynamism of how events occur. It's just not how I think.

Would I do things over again? Would I have loved to have been there to keep my brother from being killed? Sure, I mean how silly can that question get? But, I just don't encounter it that way. I don't think of things that way. Things happen and you do the best you can. I don't think of it that way. I also don't think that that's a healthful way. I don't think that that is informative or in any way shape or form will help you encounter your environment or existence. So I don't think it's even good to think that way.

Spotlight On
Douglas Sills

by Nancy Rosati


NR: What do you do when you come here and you're just not in the mood? You're just having a bad day?

DS: No, that's not an excuse. No, you pull it together.

NR: So, how do you do that?

DS: You know how you feel when you work out - you've had a crummy day and you ride the bike for a half hour? You get on the bike and you do it. And when you're done you feel better. So, there is a sense that once you get into it you will feel better because you have a focused activity that's constructive, that you're doing with a group of people whom you love. So you know that whatever sensation you're having, you have this thing where you're going to make magic together. So, that's very healing. And at the end you feel like you've made a contribution.

(To Alyce) Have you seen me come in in a bad mood? (She shakes her head no.) Oh, don't LIE. Don't lie. She asked me how do I get it together when I'm not in the mood. How do I go out there? How do I put it together if it's such a big deal - How can you possibly come here in a lousy mood and still do it. What do you see?

AB: Well, you sit here and you focus. You put your makeup on and everything and you put everything that happened before out, and you think about ...

DS: That sounds a little pat. I mean, is that what you see me doing?

AB: Yeah. You sit there very quiet. I do your hair and you don't say anything, and you just try to push everything away.

DS: That's true.

NR: OK. I want to talk about the League. Why do you think they've been so loyal? And what do you think their contribution's been?

DS: I guess they've been loyal because it's a product that they like and enjoy going to. I mean, why do you order eggs benedict twice? Because you like it. So, they like it. And they feel regarded. I think those two things are sort of important.

NR: How do they feel regarded?

DS: I don't know because I only see what I do with them. But, I assume they must feel regarded, otherwise why would they come back? You don't go to someplace where you're being disregarded or disrespected. So, I certainly try to regard them. And that means make time, if someone has a special occasion and I know that person I'll try to make time for them backstage, make exceptions to the rules, make the boundaries of my personal life flexible so that I will talk to them afterwards, make eye contact, remember their names, remember what they're doing in their lives - this person's going to graduate school, this person's selling concessions over at Beauty and the Beast, this person's first Broadway show is Jekyll and Hyde. You know, whatever it is. So, if you try and remember them as you would want to be remembered if you were making repeat visits. I think that's why they come back.