Friday, June 20, 2008

Sondheim's Lifetime Achievement Award: Speech

Thanks to the Stephen Sondheim Society for linking me to a Tony Awards Headquarters web site where I found the text to a speech that actor Mandy Patinkin read when he accepted a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award on behalf of Stephen Sondheim, who, not having been told of plans for this award, had scheduled travel in Europe. Here's the speech:

Thank you all, but this award has to be shared with Julius Epstein, Arthur Laurents, Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart, George Furth, Jim Goldman, John Weidman, Hugh Wheeler and James Lapine. These are the men who created the characters that sang the songs, the situations that gave rise to the songs and the criticism that improved the songs. They were my collaborators. They are called playwrights. They invent. They make whole cloth out of nothing. They make a hat where there never was a hat. And they don’t just write musicals.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I’m not sharing this Award with Hal Prince, it’s because he already has one.

Lifetime Achievement has a deadly sound to it, a ring of finality, a faint whiff of "You’ve outlived your usefulness." And, as you get older, you start to believe that. At least some writers do, including me.

The problem is that the more venerable you get, the harder it becomes to avoid the fear of not living up to the expectations and praise that are bestowed on you -- as in the form of a Lifetime Achievement Award. Nevertheless, buoyed by your encouragement, with more Lifetime I -- we -- promise you more, if not higher, Achievement.

Thank you all again.

No comments: