“I got the idea from how the Speakeasy was doing their booking for shows.”
Seems simple, right? Just actually acknowledging that you got the idea for something from someone else on the local arts scene. But you’d be surprised at how little this is done. More often, much more often, people have an incredible selective amnesia about things others in the scene are doing, even if they’ve been involved with the exact things they’re emulating, and rarely give credit where it’s due.
Rein Razer is a former member of Moonshine Misfits. Her burlesque show will be presented tonight at the Village Theater in the Village of East Davenport.
Listen, it doesn’t diminish you and your efforts to acknowledge that you’ve been inspired by or have gained experience and information from something someone else has done. We’re all inspired by others, we all gain experience from looking at the works of others. And it’s not only the right thing to do to acknowledge that, but it helps to build the entire scene up, instead of creating unnecessary annoyances.
I’m the first to admit that when I first moved out here to the Quads, I was inspired by my good friend, Linda Cook. When I moved out here from Chicago, where I’d grown up and gone to college, in the mid- ’90s, she was the Entertainment Editor for the Quad City Times, and she was EVERYWHERE — on Paula Sands Live, on WQPT, on a ton of radio stations, etc., and the former entertainment editors for the Dispatch/Argus had been NOWHERE — neither Bill McElwain nor Eileen Young had ever been regulars on any other local media.
When I took over as Entertainment Editor for the Dispatch, Leader and Rock Island Argus, I was the youngest person in the history of the company to become an editor, so I already had plenty of people doubting and discounting me, and I had to work hard to catch up to the high bar Linda set. And so, as her erstwhile competition at the time, I needed to ramp up my game and try to get out there to promote my own newspaper. Before long, I was all over TV and radio as well, on Paula Sands, the channel 8 morning show, WQPT, a half-dozen radio stations, etc. But it was Linda Cook who spurred me to do that, and at times, she was even generous enough to offer me advice and work with me in that electronic media arena. Her successor, David Burke, likewise became a friend, and as my new competition post-Linda kept the bar high to keep me on my toes and working hard. I’m thankful to both of them.
I’ve also frequently admitted that Matthew Clemens was a huge influence on me starting up my own publishing company. After I’d had a few sour experiences with other publishing companies in the ’90s and didn’t like how they packaged and marketed my work, and also didn’t like that they didn’t pay out royalties on time and sometimes not at all, Matthew said to me, “Well, why don’t you do it yourself?” and pointed me in the right direction. Before long, I was publishing my own work — and the work of many other talented area authors — and I very much enjoyed having full creative control over the design, marketing, etc. of my books, and allowing other authors that same freedom. But that wouldn’t have happened if not for my friend Matthew Clemens sending me on that pathway.
The opening scene to the My Verona Productions feature film “Your Favorite Band,” with me, right, and Tristan Tapscott.
I also give credit to my frequent artistic collaborators during my years as a film and theater producer/director/etc. — Tristan Tapscott, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who helped to bring my ideas and productions to life. Film and theater production is a daunting task, with tons of late nights and a lot of work that often goes sorely uncompensated other than in artistic satisfaction. Working with Tristan, Scott and Bryan on the various My Verona Productions shows we did together from 2003-2007 was a blast, some of the best times of my life and my artistic career, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. I very much appreciated, and appreciate, their own hard work and talents in bringing so many really cool shows and short films to life. I also have to give a big thank you to Brett Hitchcock and Denny Hitchcock for taking a chance and letting us do late-night R-rated shows at the Speakeasy during that 2003-2007 stretch, when before that, it had only been used for the decidedly G-rated Comedy Sportz. And, of course, I’m very thankful for all the phenomenal actors, actresses and crew I worked with on all those productions. It was definitely a good time, and I couldn’t have done it without you.
I also want to thank my collaborators with QuadCities.com — the awesome team of Steve Holmes, Trevor Bertucci, Tess Abney, Tristan Tapscott, Jonathan Turner and Khalil Hacker. You’re all fantastic, and I love working with all of you!
The arts, especially the performing arts, are a collaborative field, and while projects can be driven by individual artistic vision, we’re often helped along by those who struck the trail before us, and those alongside us on the way. It does not diminish your own achievements to acknowledge that, it raises them within the context of a larger scene of creators. And, it’s just the right and courteous thing to do.
So, I want to say kudos to Rein, for doing the right thing, however small, but nevertheless significant, in giving that credit.
Oh, and if you get the chance, definitely check out Rein Razer’s Court of Royalty, tonight, Friday, July 24 at 8 p.m. The theater is at 2113 E. 11th St., Village of East Davenport. Tickets will be $15 – to see in person or online, available at eventbrite.com – and in-person seating will be limited to 36 in the theater, at tables spaced six feet apart. Get your tickets now, because it’s going to be a great show!
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
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