Transcript: David Mirvish | Nov 07, 1999

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting at a restaurant table: “David Mirvish. Producer.”

The place is decorated with Greek style marble statues, ornate china vases, and a Persian rug.

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a dark purple coat, and a black t-shirt.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
THIS IS THE FOURTH
SEASON OF THE PROGRAM
AND SOMETHING UNIQUE
IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE EVER
TALKED TO TWO MEMBERS
OF THE SAME FAMILY
ON THE SHOW.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, WE HAD A
WONDERFUL CONVERSATION
WITH ED MIRVISH, AND
NOW, THIS
DIALOGUE
IS WITH DAVID MIRVISH.

David is in his late forties, clean-shaven and balding. He’s wearing a black suit, pale blue shirt, and checked gray tie.

Richard continues DAVID, FIRST THING
I WANT TO ASK YOU,
IS IT EVER A PROBLEM ALWAYS
BEING REFERRED TO
IN THE SAME SENTENCE WITH
YOUR DAD A LOT OF THE TIME?

David says I ACTUALLY LIKE IT BECAUSE
IT GIVES ME SOME SORT OF
GROUNDING AND PEOPLE SORT OF
RECOGNIZE ME BEFORE I START.
THEY PROBABLY THINK I'M
INVOLVED WITH THEATRE.

Richard says THAT'S GOOD.
IT'S A GOOD START, AND
RESTAURANTS AND STORES.

David says I GUESS, AND THEN ALSO,
BEFORE I EVER BEGAN
TO INVOLVE MYSELF
WITH THE THEATRE,
I ALSO HAD A GALLERY FOR
MANY YEARS ON MY OWN,
SO I HAVE ANOTHER WORLD WHERE
THEY DON'T ASSOCIATE ME
WITH MY FATHER
AND I'M PLEASED
TO BE ABLE TO SHARE
BOTH THOSE WORLDS.

Richard says THERE'S ACTUALLY A VARIETY
OF DAVID MIRVISHES IN A WAY,
AND I WANT TO GRADUALLY GET
TO ALL OF THEM AS WE TALK,
BUT LET ME GO BACK AND
ASK YOU JUST FIRST OF ALL
STARTING OUT, SOME OF YOUR
EARLY MEMORIES AS A KID,
ABOUT WHEN DID THE
IDEA OF SHOW BUSINESS
EVER FIRST CROSS
YOUR PATH?
HOW YOUNG WERE YOU
WHEN YOU REALIZED
IT WAS A
POSSIBILITY HERE?

David says I NEVER GAVE IT MUCH
THOUGHT AS A CHILD,
I DON'T THINK.
AFTER I GOT INVOLVED
WITH THE THEATRE,
PEOPLE BEGAN TO ASK ME, WHAT
WAS THE FIRST SHOW YOU SAW.
AND I HAD TO THINK ABOUT IT,
AND PROBABLY
PETER AND THE WOLF
AT EATON'S AUDITORIUM
HAD THE MOST IMPACT ON ME,
AND I WAS PROBABLY
ABOUT 7 OR 8 YEARS OLD.
BUT I REMEMBER ALL THE
ANIMALS HAVING THEIR OWN
SOUNDS AND THEIR OWN
INSTRUMENTS AND IT WAS
A GREAT OCCASION, AND
THE PLACE WAS DIFFERENT
THAN ANYWHERE ELSE
YOU'D EVER BEEN.
IT WAS A GREAT OUTING AND
YOU GOT ICE CREAM, TOO.
SO I ASSOCIATE THEATRE
WITH ICE CREAM,
WITH A LITTLE
MYSTERY, WITH MUSIC,
AND WITH ACTUALLY
HAVING A GOOD TIME.
THOSE ARE GOOD
ASSOCIATIONS.

Richard says ABSOLUTELY.
DID YOU EVER THINK YOU
WERE GOING TO GO INTO IT
EARLY ON AS A LIVING?

David says NO.
I THINK THAT, AS A YOUNG
MAN, SOMEWHERE IN MY TEENS,
I BEGAN TO READ ART HISTORY
AND THAT WAS SOMETHING
THAT BECAME INTERESTING
TO ME AND I OPENED
AN ART GALLERY WHEN
I WAS ABOUT 18.
MY FIRST DATE WITH
MY WIFE; WE WERE 16 -
WE DIDN'T OWN THE
ROYAL ALEXANDRA -
BUT I ASKED HER IF SHE
WOULD LIKE TO GO THERE
AND SEE
GYPSY ROSE LEE
IN THREEPENNY OPERA.
[laughing]
AND IT WAS A
GREAT PRODUCTION,
BUT I WASN'T
READY FOR IT.
THIS WAS A LITTLE MORE
FORWARD THAN I REALIZED
WHEN I TOOK HER, AND WE'D NEVER
BEEN OUT TOGETHER BEFORE,
AND AT INTERMISSION WE WERE
BOTH A LITTLE EMBARRASSED,
SO I ASKED HER IF SHE'D LIKE
TO HAVE AN ICE CREAM SODA
FOR THE SECOND ACT AND
WE DID THAT INSTEAD.

Richard says I'M NOTICING THIS ICE
CREAM AND THEATRE THEME
GOING TOGETHER.

David says I THINK THAT IT'S MAYBE
AN ENGLISH TRADITION
BECAUSE WHEN I GOT TO ENGLAND,
I FOUND THEY OFFERED ME
TEA OR ICE CREAM
AT MY SEAT.
I USUALLY TOOK
ICE CREAM.

He grins.

Richard says THAT'S GOOD.
THE ART, WHICH HAS ALWAYS
BEEN A MAJOR PART OF YOUR
LIFE, AGAIN AS A YOUNG MAN,
WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME -
OR DO YOU RECALL WHAT MADE
AN IMPRESSION ON YOU AND
MADE YOU DECIDE, THIS WAS A
COURSE YOU WANTED TO FOLLOW?

David says I THINK SOMEWHERE IN MY
TEENS, AROUND 16 OR 17,
MY MOTHER HAD BEEN
ACTIVE AS A SCULPTRESS
AND HAD TAKEN ME TO GALLERIES
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER,
BUT I HADN'T REALLY
SHOWN ANY REAL PARTICULAR
INTEREST, EXCEPT
TO ENJOY IT.
MY MOTHER'S ALWAYS
FASCINATING BECAUSE SHE
EXPLAINS THINGS AND
INTRODUCES YOU TO SOMETHING
THAT YOU MAY NEVER
HAVE LOOKED AT BEFORE.
BUT I FOUND MYSELF
READING JOHN REWALD'S
HISTORY OF IMPRESSIONISM
AND IT'S A NICE, BIG
THICK BOOK AND IT READS
AS A VERY NICE STORY.
IT'S VERY LINEAR.
IT GOES FROM ONE
EVENT TO ANOTHER,
ALMOST YEAR BY YEAR, AND
GIVES YOU A SENSE OF WHAT
PEOPLE WERE THINKING ABOUT,
WHAT THEIR PROBLEMS WERE,
WHERE THEY FIT INTO SOCIETY,
WHERE WHAT THEY DID FIT IN,
AND I FOUND MYSELF
CAUGHT WITH THAT.
AND SO I READ
THE TWO VOLUMES,
IMPRESSIONISM AND
POST IMPRESSIONISM,
IN MY ENGLISH CLASSES, WHICH
WERE TAUGHT BY BRIAN MEISSEN
AT THAT TIME, AND BRIAN
WENT ON TO BE HEAD
OF THE THEATRE
DEPARTMENT AT RYERSON.
BUT HE LET ME SIT AT THE
BACK OF THE ROOM AND READ
MY ART HISTORY BOOKS, AND BY
THE TIME I'D FINISHED THEM,
I DECIDED I WANT TO
BE AN ART DEALER.

Richard says REALLY?

David says YEAH.

Richard says WAS THERE ANY
PARTICULAR PAINTING,
ANY PARTICULAR WORK OF
ART THAT YOU READ ABOUT OR
ENCOUNTERED EARLY ON THAT
WENT ZAP TO YOU AND SAID,
THIS IS WHAT I
THINK IT'S ABOUT?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “David Mirvish. Producer.”

David says NO.
I THINK WHAT HAPPENED IS, I
FOUND IT ALL A GREAT PUZZLE.
I WENT TO SEE A JACK BUSH
SHOW AT WALTER MOOS GALLERY
WHICH USED TO BE
ON AVENUE ROAD,
AND I LOOKED AT THESE
PICTURES AND THEY
DIDN'T LOOK LIKE WHAT I
THOUGHT A PAINTING WAS.
AND I HAD NO CONTEXT
FOR IT AND NO WAY
TO MAKE SENSE OF IT.
AND YET, TWO YEARS LATER
OR THREE YEARS LATER,
I WAS ACTUALLY JACK BUSH'S
DEALER AND SHOWING HIS WORK.
AND SO IT WAS A GAME OF
CATCH-UP ALL THE TIME,
OF TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHY
THE ARTIST DID WHAT HE DID.
WHERE IT CAME FROM, AND WHAT
HE WAS TRYING TO ACHIEVE,
AND WHY ONE VOICE WAS
DIFFERENT THAN ANOTHER,
AND THAT PUZZLE
WAS EXCITING TO ME.
AND IT WAS EXCITING TO ME
BECAUSE IT WAS VERY HARD
TO EXPLAIN VERBALLY
AND BECAUSE THEY WERE
REALLY TRYING FOR
ANOTHER LANGUAGE.
AND I TENDED TO GO MORE AND
MORE TOWARDS VERY ABSTRACT
PAINTINGS AND PAINTERS
AT THAT MOMENT BECAUSE
I THOUGHT THAT WAS THE MOST
DIFFICULT WAY TO MAKE
A SUCCESSFUL PAINTING, AND I
WAS CURIOUS AS TO WHAT SORT
OF CHALLENGE PEOPLE WERE
LOOKING FOR IN THEIR LIVES.
WHEN YOU'RE YOUNG,
YOU'RE FOOLISH ENOUGH
TO LOOK FOR THE
MOST DIFFICULT WAY.
WHEN YOU GET A OLDER,
YOU LOOK FOR THE EASIEST.

[laughing]

Richard says I CAN PICTURE A LOT OF
YOUNG MEN AT 18 SAYING
THEY LIKED ART AND WANT
TO BE INVOLVED WITH ART,
BUT IT'S REALLY HARD
TO THINK OF A MAN AT 18
THINKING HE KNEW HE WANTED
TO BE AN ART DEALER.
DID ANYONE EVER
SAY TO YOU, DAVID,
WHY DO YOU WANT
TO DEAL ART?

David says YEAH, I THINK
THAT IT WAS POSED,
BUT I THINK WHAT HAPPENS
IS, IT'S NOT SO MUCH
THE DEALING ASPECT
AS THE INVOLVEMENT.
AT A CERTAIN MOMENT A LIGHT
GOES ON AND YOU FIND THINGS
THAT ARE INTERESTING TO YOU
IN A WAY THAT IS DIFFERENT
THAN THINGS ARE INTERESTING
TO YOU AS A CHILD.
THERE'S SOME PROCESS THAT I
THINK IS PROBABLY TO DO WITH
JUST HOW THE BRAIN DEVELOPS,
THAT SOMEPLACE BETWEEN
15 AND 25, WE FIND THOSE
PARTS OF OUR LIVES THAT
WILL AFFECT US MAYBE FOR
THE REST OF OUR LIFE:
WE FIND OUR MATE,
WE FIND WHERE
WE WANT TO LIVE,
WE FIND SOMETHING
ABOUT OURSELVES
AND HOW WE
WANT TO LIVE,
AND WE FIND THOSE INTERESTS
THAT SUDDENLY MOTIVATE US
IN SOME WAY TO WHAT WE DO
FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES.
AND I THINK ANYTHING
BEFORE THAT 14, 15, 16
IS ALMOST PRECOCIOUS.
PEOPLE WHO DRAW
WELL AS YOUNGSTERS,
AS 10-YEAR-OLDS WHO HAVE
BEEN IN ART CLASSES,
MAY NEVER USE IT LATER.
WHEREAS IF THEY DO
IT AT 14, 15, 16,
THEY SEE IT IN
DIFFERENT TERMS,
I TEND TO THINK.

Richard says YOU TALKED ABOUT BONDING
WITH BUSH VERY EARLY ON
AND THAT WAS
IMPORTANT TO YOU.
WHEN YOU START TO
DEVELOP A RELATIONSHIP
WITH AN ARTIST, IS IT
LIKE A COURTSHIP?
HOW DOES IT WORK?

David says FOR ME IT WORKED MAINLY
THAT I SAW THEM FIRST
IN THEIR WORK AND DIDN'T
KNOW THEM PERSONALLY.
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH
JACK BUSH'S WORK WAS IN
A GALLERY, ALTHOUGH MY MOTHER
ACTUALLY HAD KNOWN JACK
AND HAD DONE SOME DRAWING
CLASSES WITH HIM YEARS EARLIER.
BUT IF THE WORK
ENGAGES ME ENOUGH,
THEN I WILL MAKE THE EFFORT
TO ACTUALLY MEET THE PERSON
WHO DID IT AND TRY TO PUT
MORE OF A CONTEXT TOGETHER
AS TO WHY THEY'RE DOING IT
AND TRY AND UNDERSTAND
MY RESPONSE TO IT
A LITTLE BETTER.
SO I THINK THAT JACK IN
TERMS OF HIS WORK LOOKED
SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I
THOUGHT PAINTINGS WERE THAT
THAT WAS A MAJOR CHALLENGE
AND I WAS VERY MUCH IN MY
FIRST YEAR SORTING OUT WHAT
I WANTED TO BE INVOLVED WITH.
I DID BIG SURVEY SHOWS
AT THE END OF THE YEAR
IN WHICH I HAD ARTISTS WITH
VERY, VERY DIFFERENT IDEAS
AND TASTES AND I BORROWED
PICTURES FROM MANY DIFFERENT
DEALERS WHO HAD HUNG THEM
ABOUT FOUR INCHES APART,
AND THEN I HAD TO
DECIDE WHY I LIKED
ONE PAINTER
OVER ANOTHER.
AND I HAD TO LOOK AT THE
SHOWS EVERY DAY FOR FOUR WEEKS,
AND IT GAVE ME AN
OPPORTUNITY TO ASSESS
WHAT INTERESTED ME.
SO, IT TOOK ME ABOUT
TWO YEARS BEFORE I HAD
SOME REAL SENSE OF DIRECTION
IN WHAT THE GALLERY ENDED UP
REPRESENTING AND
STANDING FOR,
AND THAT'S A LUXURY THE
PRIVATE DEALERS HAVE.

Richard says RIGHT.

David says IT'S VERY DIFFERENT
THAN A MUSEUM.
WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR OWN
GALLERY AND YOUR PURPOSE
IN HAVING IT IS ACTUALLY TO
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE SHOWING,
BECAUSE YOU'RE NOW RECOMMENDING
THIS TO OTHER PEOPLE.
THAT'S VERY DIFFERENT THAN
TRYING TO BE AN EDUCATIONAL
INSTITUTION WHICH A MUSEUM
IS OFTEN AND WHICH HAS
A SURVEY OF EVERYTHING
THAT'S GOING ON
AND THEN LETS THE PUBLIC
SORT OF SORT THAT OUT.

Richard says IT'S AN AREA I KEEP PRODDING
YOU ON BECAUSE WHEN PEOPLE
GO TO SEE PLAYS,
IT'S VERY EASY.
THEY CAN SAY, OH,
I SAW THAT PLAY.
I LIKED IT.
IT MADE BE LAUGH
AND CLAP.
PEOPLE CAN HAVE A
RELATIONSHIP WITH A PAINTING
BUT IT'S OFTEN REALLY
HARD FOR THEM TO DEFINE
AND THEY DON'T
KNOW QUITE WHY.
WHEN A PAINTING HITS
YOU, HOW DOES IT HIT YOU?
IS IT VISCERAL?
IS IT MENTAL?

David says IT'S VISCERAL AND...
IT'S VISCERAL,
AND IT'S ALSO OFTEN
UNTRANSLATABLE IN TERMS
OF LANGUAGE, AND THEREFORE
A LITTLE DIFFICULT
TO DEFINE TO
SOMEONE ELSE.
AND YET A CONSENSUS GROWS
AROUND THE ART WORLD BECAUSE
THERE IS A PROCESS ON AN
INTELLECTUAL LEVEL
THAT PLACES THE
PICTURE SOMEWHERE,
AND WHAT YOU'RE FAMILIAR
WITH WILL CREATE A CONTEXT
FOR THE FIRST
NEW WORK YOU SEE.
BUT IT'S THE VERY OPPOSITE
OF THE THEATRE WORLD.
IT'S NOT A
COLLABORATION.
IT'S A VERY SINGULAR,
ONE-PERSON-TO-ONE-OBJECT
RELATIONSHIP.
OFTEN IT HAS WITH MODERN
PICTURES TO DO WITH SCALE
AND RELATES SOMEHOW TO
YOUR OWN PHYSICAL SIZE.
BUT I THOUGHT THERE WERE
GREAT SIMILARITIES WHEN
I STARTED IN THE THEATRE
WORLD AND I DISCOVERED
THAT THEY WEREN'T AS
GREAT AS I HAD IMAGINED
BECAUSE IN THEATRE,
EVERYONE IS DEPENDENT
ON EVERYONE ELSE
WORKING IN IT.
AND IN THE ART WORLD, IT'S
ALMOST A GIVEN THAT
THE ARTIST IS REALLY
ISOLATED AND BY HIMSELF,
AND I GUESS IN A FUNNY WAY
I DIDN'T REALIZE THAT THE
MESSENGER IS SOMEONE
THE ANCIENT GREEKS
USED TO WANT TO KILL, AND
HERE I CHOSE THE JOB
OF BEING THE MESSENGER.
[laughing]
THAT WHICH IS WHAT
THE DEALER IS.
AND IN A FUNNY WAY, I'VE
GONE ON TO BE THE MESSENGER
AND WHEN I PUT ON PLAYS,
PEOPLE OFTEN MEET ME
AND ASK WHAT I DO AND I SAY,
I WORK IN THE THEATRE.
AND THEY TELL ME THEY LIKE
A SHOW OR THEY DON'T LIKE
A SHOW WE'VE DONE, AND I
SAY, IF YOU LIKE THE SHOW,
SEND MY FATHER THE GOOD
LETTERS, AND IF YOU DON'T,
SEND ME THE BAD ONES.

Richard says RIGHT
[laughing]
DO YOU FIND PEOPLE ARE MORE
DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH
IN ART THAN IN THEATRE?
I DON'T MEAN THE ARTISTS.
I MEAN THE AUDIENCES.

David says NO, THE AUDIENCE IN
THE ART WORLD IS NOT
DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH.
THE ARTIST IS SOMETIMES
QUITE COMPLICATED BECAUSE
HE IS OFTEN ISOLATED AND YOU
ARE HIS WIDER PIPELINE
TO INFORMATION, AND HE
USES YOU TO BUFFET HIMSELF
FROM BEING OVERWHELMED BY PEOPLE
WHO ADMIRE WHAT HE DOES,
SO THAT HE CAN ACTUALLY
CONTINUE TO WORK.
AND SO, YOU'RE VERY MUCH
CAUGHT IN A CERTAIN ROLE
IN THE MIDDLE THAT'S DIFFICULT,
NOT SO MUCH FROM THE PEOPLE
WHO WANT TO COME TO HIM
BUT THERE ARE DIFFICULT
DECISIONS FOR A DEALER.
I HAD A MOMENT WHEN I HAD A
LIMITED NUMBER OF PAINTINGS
THAT CAME FROM JACK BUSH.
I HAD PROBABLY THREE PEOPLE
FOR EVERY PAINTING
THAT I HAD AT THAT
MOMENT IN HIS CAREER
WHO WANTED THE PICTURES.
AND WHILE YOU KEEP A LIST,
IT'S NOT DEALT WITH IN STRICT
PRIORITY BECAUSE IF
ONE OF THE MEMBERS
ON THAT LIST IS THE
GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM,
AND THE OTHER IS
JACK'S NEIGHBOUR,
YOU ARE REALLY CAUGHT IN
A DILEMMA BECAUSE JACK
MAY VERY WELL WANT YOU TO
SELL IT TO THE NEIGHBOUR,
AND YOU'RE SAYING SHORT TERM
THAT IT WOULD BE MUCH BETTER
IF WE COULD SELL IT TO THE
GUGGENHEIM AND WE'LL WAIT
FOR HIM TO PAINT ANOTHER
PICTURE FOR THE NEIGHBOUR.
AND SO YOU HAVE TO BE VERY
CLEAR BEFORE YOU MAKE EITHER
OF THOSE DECISIONS THAT YOU
AND THE ARTIST ARE ON THE
SAME TEAM AND GOING IN THE
SAME DIRECTION TO KNOW
WHY YOU'RE DOING
WHAT YOU'RE DOING.

Richard says DO YOU EVER GO IN
DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS?

David says I'VE OCCASIONALLY
MADE THAT MISTAKE.

[laughing]

Richard says I LIKE THE WAY YOU PUT
THAT, BUT ONLY OCCASIONALLY.

David says I TRY NOT TO.
I TRY NOT TO BECAUSE
ULTIMATELY LIFE
IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN
SELLING TO THE GUGGENHEIM.

Richard says I THINK OF YOU, AGAIN,
THIS YOUNG MAN BEGINNING
AS AN ART DEALER AND WHAT
TORONTO WAS LIKE AT THAT PERIOD.
DID DAVID MIRVISH LOOK
AND ACT LIKE HE DOES NOW?
OR WERE YOU A
WILD, YOUNG GUY?

David says I WAS PRETTY TAME EXCEPT
THAT I DIDN'T LOOK SO TAME.
I KNOW THAT I HAD A LETTER
SHORTLY AFTER WE OPENED
HAIR
IN THE THEATRE ABOUT 1970
AND IT WAS A SCHOOL FRIEND
AND HE SAID, DAVID, I
WOULD HAVE COME OVER AT THE
OPENING AND TALKED TO YOU
BUT YOU LOOKED SO IMPORTANT.
YOU KNOW, YOU WERE WEARING
YOUR KENTE CLOTHE AND YOUR
AFRO WAS OUT TO THERE, AND
ALL THESE IMPORTANT PEOPLE
WERE TALKING TO YOU.
BUT IF YOU HAVE
TIME FOR LUNCH,
I'M TEACHING IN SCARBOROUGH,
AND I NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D
AMOUNT TO ANYTHING EITHER
WHEN WE WERE AT HIGH SCHOOL
TOGETHER, AND THE ONLY
PERSON I THOUGHT THAT WOULD
BE A MORE OF A FAILURE THAN
YOU WAS LORNE LIPOWITZ
WHO IS LORNE MICHAELS.

Richard says MICHAELS.
THIS GUY HAS
REALLY GOOD RADAR.

[laughing]

David says AND HE WAS
PROBABLY RIGHT.
WE JUST PROBABLY
BUMBLED THROUGH.

Richard says WELL THERE YOU WERE IN
THE BACK OF ENGLISH
READING ART BOOKS.

David says I WASN'T DOING WHAT I SHOULD
HAVE BEEN DOING, I KNOW THAT.

Richard says I THINK THIS IS A LESSON
I WANT TO REMEMBER, TOO,
DON'T DO WHAT YOU'RE
SUPPOSED TO BE DOING.
THE THEATRE HAS APPEARED
NOW - THE TWO STREAMS -
THE ART AND THE THEATRE
SEEM TO BE RUNNING TOGETHER.
YOUR DAD HAD ACQUIRED
THE ALEX BY THIS POINT,
THE ROYAL ALEXANDRA THEATRE.

David says AND I USED TO GO TO
THE JAMES REYNE PLACE
AT THE TARRAGON WHERE
THEY'D POUND ON THE TABLE
WITH THE HANDLE OF A BROOM
AT
THE BLACK DONNELLYS
AND IT WAS WONDERFUL WHAT
WAS GOING ON IN THE '60s,
BUT WE WERE ALL
PRETTY INTENSE
AND IF YOU WERE IN
THE ART WORLD,
YOU WERE IN THE
ART WORLD.
IF YOU WERE THE
THEATRE, YOU KNOW,
YOU DIDN'T GO TO SEE
ART EXHIBITIONS SOMEHOW.
AT A CERTAIN POINT, I
HAD TO MAKE A DECISION
THAT WAS A BUSINESS
DECISION.
WHEN YOU RUN A GALLERY,
YOU END UP HAVING
RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE
PEOPLE THAT YOU REPRESENT
AND ALSO THE PEOPLE THAT YOU
ARE SELLING PAINTINGS TO.
AND I HAD TO DECIDE, WAS
I GOING TO MOVE TO ANOTHER
CITY WHERE THERE WAS
A LARGER AUDIENCE,
OR WAS I GOING TO GET ON
AIRPLANES EVERY TWO WEEKS
AND TRAVEL IN ORDER TO DO
THE BEST REPRESENTATION FOR
MY ARTISTS, AND IN THE END
I DECIDED THAT I DIDN'T
WANT TO CONTINUE
IN THE ART WORLD,
THAT I WOULD DO IT
IN A PERSONAL WAY,
AND I STILL THINK I'M AN ART
DEALER AND I STILL DO SOME
DEALING, BUT IT'S ON
A VERY PERSONAL LEVEL.
BUT I THOUGHT, SLOWLY AS
I PULLED AWAY FROM THAT,
THAT WE HAD GREAT
OPPORTUNITY IN THE THEATRE,
AND I'VE HAD A PRETTY
GOOD RUN SO FAR WITH IT.
I'VE HAD A LOT
OF PLEASURE.
WE HAD A CHANCE TO WORK
WITH JONATHAN MILLER
AND PETER HALL FOR A NUMBER
OF YEARS IN ENGLAND.
WE HAD A CHANCE TO PUT
ON SOME GREAT SHOWS
LIKE
LES MISERABLES
AND
CRAZY FOR YOU,
AND WE'VE WORKED ON SOME
LARGE MUSICALS HERE.
WE BROUGHT A PART OF
THE
WARS OF THE ROSES
AND I'LL
NEVER FORGET THE WEDNESDAY
MATINEE WHEN IN
HENRY V
WE PLAYED “GOD SAVE THE
KING” AND TWO MEMBERS OF MY
AUDIENCE SUDDENLY WERE
ROUSED AND STOOD UP
AT ATTENTION AND THEN LOOKED
AROUND AND SUNK BACK
INTO THEIR SEATS WHERE
THEY KNEW THEY BELONGED.
[laughing]
BUT THERE'S THE
UNEXPECTED IN THEATRE,
AND IT CAN BE VERY
EXCITING AND IT'S
NOT A LONESOME
BUSINESS.
THE ART BUSINESS CAN
BE LONESOME SOMETIMES.

Richard says IN THEATRE, THERE'S
OFTEN 150, 200 PEOPLE
WORKING ON A SHOW
WITH YOU.

David says THAT'S RIGHT, AND
THEY'RE ALL BRIGHT.
THEY DON'T GET THOSE
JOBS BY NOT BEING BRIGHT,
INTELLIGENT PEOPLE,
BECAUSE IT'S A BUSINESS
THAT EVERYONE - THERE ARE MORE
PEOPLE THAN THERE ARE JOBS,
SO YOU ALWAYS HAVE AN
OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE
THE BEST OF A
NEW GENERATION.
AND THE QUESTION IS
WHETHER THOSE JOBS
ARE THERE AS
THEY GET OLDER.
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE LEAVE
IT BY THE AGE OF 40,
SO IT'S VERY HARD TO
CAST A 45-YEAR-OLD
JEWISH MALE IN A PLAY.
YOU WON'T FIND
THAT ACTOR EASILY
IN OUR COMMUNITY
ANYMORE.

Richard says BECAUSE THERE ISN'T
STUFF FOR THEM TO DO.

David says THERE ISN'T ENOUGH
FOR THEM TO DO.

Richard says WHEREAS THE PAINTER
CAN KEEP GOING ON.

David says IN FACT, IF THE
PAINTER IS TITIAN,
HE'LL PAINT HIS BEST
PICTURES AT THE END
OF HIS LIFE, OR HANS
HOFMANN, OR JACK BUSH.

Richard says LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE
THEATRE DURING THE YEARS
YOU'VE BEEN WITH IT.
SUBSCRIPTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN
A MAJOR PART OF THE EMPIRE
AND IT SEEMS SENSIBLE
BECAUSE PEOPLE OFTEN SEE
SHOWS THAT ARE
GOOD FOR THEM AND
THEY DIDN'T KNOW THEY
WERE GOING TO GET.
IS THAT KIND OF LIKE PUTTING
VEGETABLES ON THE PLATE?

David says WELL, I LIKE TO THINK
OF IT AS PUTTING THE LAST
CHOCOLATE WITH THE COFFEE
BECAUSE I THINK THAT, YES,
IT'S GOOD FOR THEM BECAUSE
THEY SEE SOMETHING
THEY DIDN'T KNOW OR
WEREN'T EXPECTING.
IN THIS COMING SEASON,
MEMORY OF WATER,
I SUSPECT, MAY
BE THAT BONBON.

Richard says RIGHT.

David says BECAUSE IT'S A GREAT CAST
AND IT'S AN ENSEMBLE CAST.
IT'S FROM OUR
OWN COMMUNITY.

Richard says RIGHT.

David says I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO
SELL THAT SHOW BY ITSELF,
BUT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE
SEASON AND THE SUBSCRIPTION,
I GET A CHANCE TO
PUT IT FORWARD,
AND I'M ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENT
THAT IT'S GOING TO TOUCH PEOPLE.
IT'S GOING TO TOUCH MEMORY.
IT'S GOING TO TOUCH WARMTH.
IT'S GOING TO
TOUCH THEIR HEART,
AND IT'S GOING TO
MAKE THEM GLAD
THAT THEY WENT
OUT THAT EVENING.
SO, IT ALLOWS ME SOME
FREEDOM SUBSCRIPTION,
THAT I WOULDN'T
HAVE OTHERWISE.
THERE ARE SHOWS THAT
SOMETIMES ARE DIFFICULT
FOR THE AUDIENCE AND WE
DID
DRY LIPS OUGHTA MOVE
TO KAPUSKASING
IN
SUBSCRIPTION.

Richard says THIS IS TOMSON HIGHWAY.
IT'S THE FIRST NATIVE AUTHOR'S
PLAY YOU'D EVER DONE?

David says AND
THE REZ SISTERS
WAS, I
THINK, A LOT MORE PALATABLE,
AND IT WAS A
WONDERFUL PLAY.
AND THE QUESTION WAS,
SHOULD WE DO THAT
OR SHOULD WE DO
THE SECOND PLAY.
AND WE DECIDED TO TAKE
A CHANCE ON
DRY LIPS
AND WE GOT
VERY LUCKY.
I DON'T THINK THAT WE
WERE PARTICULARLY
INTELLIGENT ABOUT IT.
IT JUST HAPPENED THAT
YOU MAKE A DECISION
AND THEN 18 MONTHS LATER,
IT'S ON YOUR STAGE,
AND IT HAPPENED AT THAT
MOMENT THAT MEECH LAKE
WAS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE.
AND A MEMBER OF THE NATIVE
COMMUNITY IN WESTERN CANADA
RAISED A FEATHER AND KILLED
MEECH LAKE IN THAT MOMENT
WITH WHATEVER THE
REASON, BUT IT FOCUSSED
ALL OUR ATTENTION.
AND GRAHAM GREENE AT
THAT MOMENT WAS IN
DANCES WITH WOLVES
AND GOT
AN OSCAR NOMINATION.
IT WAS A BRILLIANT CAST AND
WE GOT A GREAT RECEPTION.
WE DIDN'T GET A UNIVERSALLY
GREAT RECEPTION.
SOME SUBSCRIBERS FOUND
THAT SHOW TO BE ROUGH.

Richard says RIGHT, THE LANGUAGE.

David says THE LANGUAGE WAS VERY
DIRECT AND TOMSON
IS A BRILLIANT WRITER,
AND IN THE FIRST ACT,
THE PLAY IS VERY FUNNY.
AND SO YOU WANT TO COME
BACK FOR THE SECOND ACT.
AND IN THE SECOND ACT,
HE HITS YOU IN A REALLY
EMOTIONAL WAY ABOUT
WHAT IS ACTUALLY
GOING ON IN HIS WORLD.

Richard says RIGHT.

David says AND IT'S A WONDERFUL
PIECE OF THEATRE.
A LOT OF PEOPLE
WROTE ME AND SAID,
IF YOU DO MORE OF THAT,
WE'D BE SUBSCRIBERS.
ANOTHER GROUP OF PEOPLE
WROTE MY FATHER AND SAID,
ED, WE'LL FORGIVE
YOU THIS TIME,
BUT DON'T DO
THIS TO US AGAIN.
BUT I WOULD GLADLY GET
ANOTHER PIECE FROM TOMSON.
I THINK THAT HE'S BRILLIANT
AND I THINK THAT THAT WAS
A HIGH MOMENT FOR
US IN THE THEATRE.
BUT I THINK IN SOME WAYS
SUBSCRIPTION IS MEANT
TO CROSS A VERY BROAD
GROUP OF PEOPLE.
NOT EVERY PLAY WILL BE
LIKED BY EVERY PERSON
IN THE SUBSCRIPTION.
BUT I THINK THE CROSSING
POINT WAS
LES MISERABLES.
WE PASSED ON
CATS
BECAUSE IT MEANT
WE HAD TO SUSPEND
SUBSCRIPTION.
IT RAN FOR TWO YEARS AND
WE DIDN'T WANT TO SAY
TO THE SUBSCRIBER, DON'T COME
BACK FOR ANOTHER TWO YEARS.
BUT WHEN
LES MIS
CAME ALONG,
I FELT THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT
THAT WE DO THAT SHOW, THAT
PEOPLE REALLY WANTED THAT
AS MUCH AS THEY WANTED
ANYTHING THEY'D EVER BEEN TO.
AND SO WE DID SUSPEND
SUBSCRIPTION AND WE WENT
BACK AND FORTH WITH HAVING
SUBSCRIPTION AND HAVING
LONG RUNNING SHOWS UNTIL WE
BUILT THE PRINCESS OF WALES.
I KNOW YOU'RE NOT
SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE
TO HAVE YOUR CAKE
AND EAT IT,
BUT IT SEEMS IT'S
WORKED OUT THAT WAY.

Richard says THE OTHER THING
YOU'VE DONE,
WHICH WAS VERY BOLD AND
WAS DIFFERENT THAN OTHER
MANAGEMENTS WERE
DOING AROUND THE CITY,
IS THAT WITH VERY, VERY
RARE, RARE EXCEPTIONS,
THE CASTS WERE
ALWAYS CANADIAN,
INCLUDING ALL
THE STARS.
AND WAS THAT A DELIBERATE
CHOICE ON YOUR PART?
LIKE WHEN THEY DID
LES MISERABLES,
WERE YOU THE ONE WHO SAID,
I WANT IT ALL CANADIAN?

David says IN THAT CASE, BOTH CAMERON
AND I SAID TOGETHER,
NOBODY BELIEVED IT.
AT THAT POINT IT WAS EARLY
ON AND THERE WAS A SENSE,
BECAUSE HISTORICALLY YOU
USED CANADIAN CASTS
AND YOU HAVE STARS IN
THE LEAD FROM ELSEWHERE.
BUT CAMERON ALWAYS FELT
THAT THAT PLAY WAS ROOTED
IN REVOLUTION AND THAT
EVERY COUNTRY SOMEWHERE
IN ITS PAST HAD A
REVOLUTION, AND THAT YOU
COULD CONNECT TO THAT
SOMEHOW VISCERALLY
BY USING THE PEOPLE
OF THAT COMMUNITY.
AND SO, HE, FROM THE START,
WANTED TO HAVE A CANADIAN CAST.
AND THE QUESTION WAS, COULD
WE ACTUALLY PULL IT OFF.
DID WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO WOULD
ACCEPT THAT THEY WOULD BE
IN A SHOW FOR A LONG RUN, AND
THAT TAKES ANOTHER TYPE
OF PERSEVERANCE ON THE
PART OF THE ACTOR,
TO KEEP IT ALIVE FOR THEM
AND TO KEEP IT INTERESTING,
AND IT TAKES A
CERTAIN TEMPERAMENT,
AND ALSO DID WE HAVE
THE SKILLS DEVELOPED
IN THE COUNTRY FAR ENOUGH THAT
WE COULD FIND THAT WHOLE CAST.
WE WERE VERY PROUD OF THE FACT
THAT WE WERE ALL CANADIAN.
WE HAD LATER PRODUCTIONS
WHERE WE DID MIX CAST.
WE HAD SOME OTHER
PEOPLE IN THEM,
BUT GENERALLY A LOT OF
THE PEOPLE THAT WE'VE HAD
IN OUR SHOWS, I'M PROUD
TO SAY, ARE FINDING JOBS
ALL OVER THE WORLD.
AND IN THAT SENSE, WE WELCOME
PEOPLE FROM OTHER PLACES
TO COME AND PLAY
IN OUR THEATRE, TOO.
WHAT WE DON'T WANT TO DO IS
GIVE THE JOB TO CANADIANS
BECAUSE THEY'RE CANADIANS.
WE WANT TO GIVE CANADIANS
THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE
THE JOB, AND IF THEY'RE
AS GOOD OR BETTER,
WE WANT TO HIRE THEM, BUT WE
WANT TO LOOK AT THEM FIRST.
WE DON'T WANT TO HIRE THEM
IF THEY'RE NOT AS GOOD.
BECAUSE ULTIMATELY
MY RESPONSIBILITY
IS TO THE AUDIENCE.
I HAVE TO DELIVER
THE BEST SHOW I CAN,
AND I'M GOING TO
BE COMPARED
BECAUSE PEOPLE IN
TORONTO TRAVEL.
THEY'RE GOING TO SEE
LION KING
IN NEW YORK
OR IN LONDON.
THEY'RE NOT GOING TO SEE
IT IN MANY OTHER PLACES
BECAUSE IT'S NOT EASY TO
MAKE, BUT MY PRODUCTION
HAS TO BE ABLE TO COMPETE
WITH THOSE PRODUCTIONS.
SO I JUST WANT TO
SAVE YOU THE AIRFARE.

Richard says THAT'S GOOD.
THE SUBSCRIPTION
SEASON YOU'RE DOING
IN THE '99-2000 SEASON
IS KIND OF LIKE A SUMMATION
OF ALL THE THINGS
YOU'VE DONE.
YOU TALKED ABOUT GIVING
SOME CANADIANS A CHANCE
IN
THE MEMORY OF WATER.
YOU'RE BRINGING BACK A
CANADIAN STAR, RIGHT,
IN A NEW PLAY?

David says YES.
WE HAVE A NEW PLAY,
ENIGMA VARIATIONS,
AND WE HOPE TO TAKE THAT
ONTO BROADWAY FROM HERE.
AND DONALD SUTHERLAND, WE'VE
DONE ONE PRODUCTION NOW
WITH MARK TAPER FORUM
IN LOS ANGELES,
SO WE'VE HAD A CHANCE TO SEE
IT BECAUSE IT WAS ORIGINALLY
DONE IN PARIS, BUT NOW WE
HAVE A NEW TRANSLATION,
SO WE WANT TO SEE
HOW THAT PLAYED.
AND THEN I'M THE STOP
BEFORE WE GO TO NEW YORK.
SO IT GIVES US THE CHANCE
TO DEVELOP A NEW PLAY
WHICH IS VERY WITTY,
VERY FAST, VERY CLEVER.
AND PRETTY INSIGHTFUL
ABOUT CHARACTER,
AND I THINK PRETTY
CHALLENGING AND INTERESTING
FOR THE AUDIENCE.
AND THEN WE ALSO HAVE VERY
SUCCESSFUL MUSICALS THAT
HAVE BEEN DONE ELSEWHERE.

Richard says I WAS GOING TO SAY,
YOU'VE GOT CABARET.

David says CABARET.

Richard says AND OLIVER.

David says OLIVER
IS COMING AND IT'S
PART OF THIS LAST YEAR
SUBSCRIPTION, BUT YOU'RE
GETTING IT A LITTLE LATER.

Richard says NOW, I HAVE TO ASK YOU
HOW YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING,
BECAUSE
CABARET
IN NEW YORK,
ONE OF THE THINGS THEY DID IS,
THEY TURNED FIRST
ANOTHER OLD THEATRE
AND NOW STUDIO 54 INTO
A WHOLE NIGHTCLUB.
AND IT'S GOING TO BE IN THE
LOVELY PRINCESS OF WALES.
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO
DESTROY THAT WHOLE THEATRE
AND TURN IT INTO A
NIGHTCLUB, ARE YOU?
OR ARE YOU?

David says WE'RE NOT GOING TO
DESTROY THE ENTIRE THEATRE.
WE'RE GOING TO TAKE SOME
SEATS OUT ON THE SIDES,
SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE
ONLY A FEW TABLES,
BUT WE DO WANT TO HAVE
TABLES IN THE AUDIENCE.
SO WE PROBABLY WILL KEEP THE
SEATS THROUGH THE MIDDLE
AND WE'LL PROBABLY ONLY PUT
IN FOUR OR SIX TABLES.
BUT WE DO WANT TO GET BEYOND
THE FRONT OF THE STAGE.
IN BOSTON, THIS WAS ONE
OF THE EARLIER STOPS,
THIS WAS THE GREAT
DEBATE AND THEY DECIDED
NOT TO TAKE ANY OF
THE SEATS OUT.
AND IT WAS EXTREMELY
SUCCESSFUL.
AND SO THE GREAT TEMPTATION
IS NOT TO TAKE THEM OUT,
BUT I'D LIKE SOME
PLACE IN THE MIDDLE,
I'D LIKE TO TRY
IT IF WE CAN.

Richard says AND THEN THE BIG THING
EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT,
THE LARGEST HIT OF
RECENT YEARS IN AMERICA
HAS BEEN
THE LION KING.
IT'S STILL
TOTALLY SOLD OUT.
YOU STILL CAN'T GET
INTO IT IN NEW YORK,
AND YOU'RE
BRINGING IT HERE.
DO YOU FEEL THIS IS
A RESPONSIBILITY
OR A PLEASURE OR BOTH?

David says OH, IT'S A CHALLENGE
IS WHAT IT IS.
I BELIEVE THAT IT'S A
TURNING POINT IN TERMS
OF THE IMPACT FOR
PEOPLE IN THEATRE,
BECAUSE WE OFTEN HAVE TALKED
ABOUT BIG MUSICALS IN THE PAST,
AND THIS CERTAINLY
FALLS INTO THE CATEGORY
OF A BIG MUSICAL.
BUT IT'S A BIG MUSICAL WHERE
THE GREATEST EFFECTS
ARE ACTUALLY VERY OLD
TRADITIONAL THEATRE TRICKS,
AND I'M NOT GOING TO
REVEAL WHAT THEY ARE.
BUT THEY ARE AS IMPACTFUL AS
THE HIGHEST TECH THAT WE KNOW.
SO HERE'S A SHOW THAT
COMBINES ALL OF THE WONDERS
THAT DISNEY IS ABLE TO
BRING IN THE LARGE FAMILY
THAT DISNEY HAS, WITH ALL OF
THE WONDERS THAT JULIE TAYMOR,
WHO COMES FROM THE
EDGE OF THE FRINGE,
IS ABLE TO BRING,
AND YOU DIDN'T KNOW
IF THIS WOULD
SUCCEED OR NOT.
DISNEY WAS CAREFUL NOT TO
SAY TOO MUCH IN ADVANCE
BECAUSE THEY WANTED THE
PUBLIC TO MAKE UP ITS MIND.
AND I BELIEVE IT'S PROBABLY
THE SINGLE MOST SUCCESSFUL
SHOW IN THE
HISTORY OF THEATRE.
THEY HAVEN'T YET REACHED
THE POINT IN NEW YORK
WHERE THEY'RE ADVERTISING
IT ON TELEVISION.
THEY'RE SOLD OUT A YEAR
AHEAD AND EVERY TIME THEY
PUT NEW TICKETS ON, THE WORD
OF MOUTH HAS CARRIED THIS SHOW.
I BELIEVE THAT IT WILL HAVE
THE IMPACT ON PEOPLE
THAT
PETER AND THE
WOLF
HAD ON ME,
THAT I'LL MEET PEOPLE 20
YEARS FROM NOW WHO WILL SAY,
THAT WAS MY THEATRE
EXPERIENCE AS AN 18-YEAR-OLD
OR AS A 20-YEAR-OLD THAT
MADE ME WANT TO WORK
IN THE THEATRE, OR AS A
10-YEAR-OLD, OR A 7-YEAR-OLD.

Richard says WELL, IT HAS EVERYTHING.
IT HAS ANIMALS.
IT HAS MYSTERY, BUT,
DAVID, THE KEY QUESTION:
IS IT GOING TO
HAVE ICE CREAM?

[laughing]

David says ABSOLUTELY.
WE'LL HAVE ICE CREAM
IN THE LOBBIES.

Richard says YOU HEARD IT HERE.
DAVID MIRVISH, YOU SEEM
TO BE HAVING YOUR CAKE
AND YOUR ICE CREAM
AND EATING IT TOO.
BEST OF LUCK.

David says THANK YOU, RICHARD.

Richard faces the screen and concludes FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOODBYE FOR NOW.

(music plays)

Music plays as the end slate reads “Special thanks to Mirvish Productions.”

Dialogue. A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1999, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: David Mirvish