Stomp If You
Can Feel It
by Lisa M. Roberts
- This weekend some friends and I treated
ourselves to a NYC performance that was a surprising delight.
The show, located in Greenwich Village, was called "Stomp"
and at first impression looked like it would pale in comparison
to the sensational theatre productions on competitive Broadway.
Imagine this. The stage of Stomp was littered with pieces of
rubbish straight from a junkyard, the "costumes" were
wripped jeans, overalls and tee's, and, as the title implies,
the music was exceptionally LOUD.
Doesn't sound too delightful, does it? Yet using Resourcefulness
with a capital "R," this 8-member cast won over their
entire audience with their boundless energy, uncanny rhythm,
self-efacing humour and corporeal dance. In short, they wiped
from memory every Broadway play I've seen in the past five years!
- Since Sunday afternoon I've
been contemplating how this low-budget, off-the-beaten-track
performance could pull off such an artful feat. But peel that
layer of thoughts away and what I've really been wondering
is what we -- as a collective community of low-budget, off-the-beaten-track
home businesses (OK, I'll just speak for myself here!) -- could
learn from these ingenious folks? What ideas could we borrow
from their success and apply in our own EP
- I'd say the first lesson is
in the word that sums up the entire production -- Resourcefulness.
What Stomp is all about literally is taking nothing (i.e. junk)
and making something (i.e. music). With everyday objects such
as brooms (sweep, sweep, clunk, clunk), match boxes (swish, swish,
tap, tap), rubber tubes, toilet plungers and the like, the cast
worked off each other's inventive beat and turned this small
theatre into a rocking spectacle. Squeezing crowd-pleasing music
from paper and plastic bags reminds me of the creative ways EPs can and have made use of their limited
resources. And how EPs can
re-invent a service or product by applying their special skill
and talent -- turning the "same-ol'/same ol'" into
something undeniably awesome.
- But invention alone didn't deliver
the performance of Stomp into the hearts of my friends and I
Sunday afternoon. Added to the mix was the charming rapport among
the members of the cast, and especially with the audience. Time
and again they needled each other like siblings on a restless
afternoon, pulling us in on the joke at each instance. But they
won us over completely when they turned their full attention
on us directly. Throughout the production they tapped into our
desire to be part of the fun, inviting us to clap and stomp in
rhythm to their beat. And just dare to stand up to go to the
restroom -- the actors on stage would stop everything and wait...with
a playful glare...until your untimely deed was done. (Talk about
- To me this indicates an exquisite
understanding of "customer service": a highly personable
approach; the welcome invitation to be part of the project at
hand; and self-respect as a professional when a project endures
untimely interruptions -- even if the interruptions come from
the folks financing it all (!).
- Finally, the producers of this
show also seemed to understand the importance of offering a gift
that keeps on giving. Instead of spending their encore in typical
self-congratulatory mode, they used their encore to send us away
with a small but memorable gift -- a bit of long-lasting rhythm
of our own. Patiently (and playfully!) they taught us how to
experiment with patterns of music, using raw materials such as
the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet, and in doing
so formed a bond between performer and audience that would outlast
our brief direct contact. Never in the presence of any Broadway
musical star have I ever felt I could even *scratch* the performer's
talent and take a little home with me. Yet when my friends and
I left this theatre, with the words "Do you feel it?"
from the lead actor still echoing in our ears, this is precisely
what each of us had done.
- Like the cast, crew and concept
of Stomp, EPs must take control of every resource
we've got, turning challenges into opportunity, whistling while
we work, and engaging our clients and customers in the process.
In essence, we need to learn how to squeeze music from a plastic
bag -- then invite the world to join in on our fun. If we can
indeed pull this off, we may just wipe the memory of any corporate
competitor from the minds of our patrons. How could we not?
- Lisa Roberts is the mother of four,
owner of The
Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family &
A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business
(Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for
purchase at EP