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.

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Action, not reaction

Q: After months of acrimony in Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are joining together to try to reform the financial system. In your experience, is compromise and collegiality the road to success, or to neither-here-nor-there mediocrity? When has being single-minded and uncompromising helped you, and when has it hurt you?

Congress is reacting because the American people want something done to control Wall Street. Something has to happen. It's actually a Miracle on Capitol Hill!

You see the system breaking down in that everyone "talks the talk" of working together across party lines, but very rarely has it happened in the last decade in this city. I find it very discouraging. I think it's important to hold on to what you believe in, but also to try and understand the other side of the coin. It may not change your beliefs, but at least you took the time to listen and try to understand. You can see where everyone is coming from to approach the problem. And together everyone works toward a solution.

It's not easy, but it's the only way to make progress. There have been times in my own work that I have compromised too much and the work suffered. However, working in the theatre on a musical is very different than being a member of Congress representing the country.

I think that more of Congress has to get in touch with the American people. They say they are, but are they really? There comes a time when everyone digs in their heels and nothing gets done. And who loses? The American people.

Politics in this country has become such a game -- something that our founding fathers never intended. If people started actually listening to the people rather than the special interests groups and lobbyists -- then something actually might get done in Washington in a timely fashion. Rather than always reacting to a problem that has occurred, maybe we could get legislation in place to avoid the problem. We need action rather than reaction.

By Eric Schaeffer  |  May 13, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Meeting in the middle Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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