Eric Schaeffer
Theater director

Eric Schaeffer

Co-founder and artistic director for Signature Theatre in Arlington, which won the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award for sustained artistic excellence.


Finding a formula

Q: Exactly thirty years ago, a bunch of little known players from the United States scored a stunning upset over the Soviet hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Why do we find these kinds of success stories so compelling and what can we learn from them? What are your favorite David vs. Goliath upsets?

There was nothing more exciting than the famous hockey game in 1980 between the United States and the USSR. I remember everyone was practically glued to their television screens cheering for our team. I remember everyone talking about it - not just for days but months and years to come.

Everybody loves a winner and that is why we were all compelled by the upset. It was one of those events that not only affected the sport but also affected the country. I remember being in high school at the time and it made a mark on a small town in the middle of Amish country in Pennsylvania. Suddenly at the basketball games, the USA chant was making its way into our small, wooden gym. It became a different version because we were the TIGERS but the chant was associated with our hockey team. There was this reborn patriotism of people being proud to be American. It was like we all had a stake in our country's hockey team.

It's exciting when it happens and the wonderful thing is there is no formula for it. It just happens. It's the same when we're creating a stage play - sometimes all the stars align and you just have this magic that occurs on the stage. Of course, you want that with every production, but it's not possible. When it happens, it's pretty amazing.

Having just directed Signature Theatre's production of SWEENEY TODD - it was the same kind of experience. Everyone was working toward one goal and all of the pieces of the puzzle came together to make one great evening of theater from the design elements to the actors to the musicians. I wish there was a written formula for it but the wonderful thing is that we always try for that same goal no matter what team we're playing for.

It goes back to the only real formula in these situations which is collaboration. No one can do it alone and when you join forces with other people working on the same team for the same goals - anything is possible.

By Eric Schaeffer  |  February 21, 2010; 7:50 PM ET  | Category:  underdog miracles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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