In a business that is often shrouded with stories of trying and failing, there are success stories that keep the dream alive for any theater major. One such story came to 1989 Binghamton alumnus Keith Hurd.
Hurd, a promoter and marketer for major Broadway productions, shared his advice and experience in professional theater with students Friday in Fine Arts. His most recent project was “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” and he’s worked on promoting some of Broadway’s biggest shows. Hurd has a strong connection to the school and wanted to reach out to students to provide some insider knowledge. Joined by Jennifer Sanchez, an actress and an understudy for several roles in “Turn Off The Dark,” the two hosted a question-and-answer session where attendees could ask whatever they wanted about working in professional theater, both on the stage and from a business perspective.
A common theme among the student’s questions revolved around how to break through in an industry defined by a lack of steady work.
“You really do need to go out there and fail hundreds of times,” Sanchez said, recalling the relentless audition process before landing her first major part. “You can’t take it personally; when you don’t get the part you want, you just have to move on because it wasn’t meant to be.”
Shifting the conversation to “Turn Off The Dark,” Hurd echoed the advice and aired some grievances about the production’s missteps.
“We were issued safety violations by the department of labor and there were some accidents on set,” Hurd said. “It was a big challenge, but I’m very happy I got to work on it. I think you learn more from your mistakes.”
Hurd and Sanchez gave a well-rounded and informative discussion on the theater industry. When it comes to marketing and the business side of theater, Hurd recommended getting as much hands-on experience as possible, including both credible internships and volunteer work. The two spoke of past experience and motivated students to continually work hard at their craft, using themselves as examples of how success in theater is possible.
“I think it’s encouraging to the students because a lot of what they hear about is how hard the business can be,” said Elizabeth Mozer, an assistant professor of acting and directing. “It’s incredibly vital to hear from people who are in the business and who have actually made it.”
For students who weren’t necessarily involved in theater work, the discussion shows that the work in live entertainment often overlaps with other artistic media.
“I’m looking more for the cinematic element,” said Alexander Leiss, a senior double-majoring in cinema and art. “But Broadway is booming and it would be an amazing experience to see your work adapted and performed on stage.”
As the hour-and-a-half-long discussion came to a close, Sanchez imparted one final piece of advice to the students.
“At the end of the day,” Sanchez said, “you have to follow your heart and passion, wherever that takes you.”