A Natural Agilist Proves the Value of Theater

By Brian Lucas

Josh Neth is the exceptionally talented artistic director of the Allentown Public Theatre.  Josh is marvelously outspoken and passionate about the Theater.  He is a remarkably eloquent and intelligent person and to converse with him is a true pleasure.  His mind has many dimensions from arts to philosophy to psychology to business.  To round it all off; he is quite an accomplished stage actor.  I recently had the opportunity of watching him play the lead in the Pennsylvania Playhouse’s production of Sondheim’s – Company.  I must plead guilty to being a fairly stringent critic of Community Theater.  However, watching Josh perform, I almost forgot I was sitting in a small auditorium. Instead, I could imagine I had front row seats on Broadway.  Josh is fortunate to be joined in life and theatrical endeavors by his quintessentially pixyish and appealing wife Cheryl.  She is an uncommonly expressive actress and a wonderfully animated singer of her own merit.  I will not say much more about Josh because he would be the first to say that this is not about him; it is about the Theater.  Josh states that the Theater is an essential part of our public conscience as well as entertainment.  After listening to him in the interview, I agree.  So I am asking all my readers to make a donation to the Allentown Public Theatre.  I also encourage those in a position to underwrite a performance or help the Allentown Public Theater find and finance a permanent home; to contact Josh Neth or Troy Brokenshire directly.  Your generosity will go towards something that makes a significant difference in so many lives and elevates us all.

Lucas: You did not have any formal training in agile. In fact, you were quite surprised and a little reluctant about the interview.

Neth: No I did not.  To be honest, when I read your other interviews and saw the predominance of business professionals, I became apprehensive about whether I was the right person.  I noted though, an interview with someone who arranges Mangia dinners as a hobby.  If agile means operating with minimal resources, than we in the Allentown Public Theatre are exceptionally agile.  Local Theater, by nature, is not a large profit or money making proposition; regardless of how much benefit and traffic it can drive to a downtown community. In the Theater world, being agile is a matter of survival.

Lucas: Whole hearted commitment to something is what drives agile. Why are you committed to the Theater? It certainly cannot be for the money!

Neth: That is an intriguing connection about commitment and agility.  I never seriously thought about it, but if you have a deep desire, you will eventually find a way to fulfill it.  Heaven knows I am not in Theater for the money!  There are two reasons I do what I do.  The first is that I have to do this.  It is a truly basic drive for me, and I am miserable if I do not.  I am immensely thankful that my fabulous wife is in the same profession and that we can share the experience and support each other.  She is a true treasure and the first love of my life.  Even Theater comes second.  I guess I have to thank my grandfather for my performing talent.  He was a magnificent musician who performed in speakeasies during the great depression. Very early on, when I was three perhaps, he thrust a guitar in my hands and taught me how to play. When my family began clapping, I was hooked. The second is that this is how I affect the world around me. This is the medium given to me to interact with my community and even in the larger scope of the world in which I live.  I honestly believe; however, it is not all about me.  Theater is beyond me and my own limited needs.  It is the venue from time immemorial, where relevant and often controversial subjects were brought to the public forum and generated discussion.  From the time of ancient Greek Theater in the 200 years following Thespis[1], Theater was the cornerstone of emerging social, moral and political change.  Without Theater, some sociologists speculate, we could have found ourselves in a totalitarian world.  Theater in some form probably preceded written language as we can see in prehistoric rock art in northern Scandinavia[2].

Lucas: That is quite a profound postulation that Theater preceded written language.  Is Theater only about making a statement or airing a subject that needs to be brought to the public conscious?

Neth: No! Of course not, there is validity in entertainment.  We do things in the Theater world that is pure entertainment.  That in itself is a vital societal function.  The personal experience of watching a play or a musical has a richness of involvement that television or other mediums cannot hope to achieve.  It is why people go to see sports teams in stadiums; even though they would get a better viewing experience from their living room.  In the Theater, you absorb your surrounding environment, the audience reaction, and the fact that you are seeing something unique.  No matter how many times you see a live performance, it will always be a little different.  Emotion also comes through in a live performance, far more than any electronic medium.  The audience experiences the energy, the highs, the lows and the triumph personally.  My overall point is; given the opportunity to have the public’s ear; it becomes a responsibility to blend with entertainment a communication of subjects that demand a greater public awareness.

Lucas: One of the most prominent aspects of successfully being agile is a specific clear vision[3].  The Allentown Public Theatre certainly has one.  When did you develop this vision?

Neth: I have a distinct recollection of being a freshman in college and my school decided to do the musical “Grease[4]”.  I remember saying to a professor; we should be learning something more significant.  Authors like Eugene O’Neill[5], exposed American vernacular for the first time.  He dramatically portrayed characters on the fringes of society, struggling to maintain hope.  That is relevant to many people today.  I wish we had done “Ah, Wilderness![6]” instead of “Grease”.  We would be doing lighter subjects as soon as we graduated by necessity, in order to pay the rent.  We should have been studying more serious performing arts subjects.  It was at that point, I had an epiphany!  I knew I did not want to be just an entertainer.  I needed to explore serious and weighty subjects in the public domain.  That was the birth of my vision!

Lucas: In agile, team effort is essential.  Why do others want to be on your team?

Neth: That is a very good question, because Theater is all about teamwork?  Even a one-man-show is not just one person. There are all the people that make the production possible and market the performance to attract an audience.  Without the audience, the best performance is only a voice crying in the wilderness.  To get back to your question, what I offer is a chance for people to be a part of something greater that themselves.  I provide a stage, if I may use that word, for them to do something that they genuinely love and feel is vital.  It is fundamentally self-actualization[7].  The Allentown Public Theatre is also different from Community Theater, in that we are a profession troop.  We pay actors enabling them to make a living doing what they love best.  Everyone else unselfishly volunteers their time in a thousand different ways to make Allentown Public Theatre productions happen and keep us alive.  I am immensely grateful to our volunteers.

Lucas: You mentioned self-actualization.  That is one of the reasons so many executives are leaving the Fortune 500 world and becoming entrepreneurs or freelancing[8].  It seems that some of the dynamics of Theater are not so different from the business world.

Neth: People are people!  We have gone through a generation where the emphasis was on accumulating wealth and consuming goods, getting the largest house, the most expensive car, etc.  It failed to make most people happy.  I watched my father work extremely hard at a job he did not love.  He achieved financial success, but he did it at the expense of a lifetime of effort about something he was not passionate.  Today more and more people inside and out of the business community are pursuing their dreams; doing something in which they can believe that they are good at.

Lucas: Why the emphasis on paid actors?

Neth: I was looking for craftsmen capable of taking a performance to a different level than a hobbyist.  You need that level of ability in performing serious works.  I also wanted to bring professional actors into the downtown community where they would help revitalize the city by their sheer presence.  Actors living downtown, consuming goods and services downtown and in general hanging out in the neighborhood are an attraction.  They not only generate commerce directly, but promote a more positive view of the city by both city and suburban residents.  This encourages people to come into the city and spend both time and money.

Lucas: Agile is also about growth.  Is there any element of growth in what the Allentown Public Theatre does?

Neth: Absolutely, we are an incubator of talent.  Good performers do not grow on trees!  They learn and develop by continued and steadied experience and coaching.  With a professional troop, we start with actors and actresses that have already committed themselves to the Theater.  We in turn, provide the venue for them to grow.  The Allentown Public Theatre predominately uses younger performers for this exact reason.  They have growth potential.  It is also a matter of economics right now.  We can only afford to pay younger performers.

Lucas: Getting back to the subject of business similarities for a moment, do you see other commonalities in what is going on in business today and what you are trying to do in the Theater?

Neth: Yes I do.  You have said there is a new business revolution going on in America.  We are returning to our entrepreneurial roots.  I agree!  One aspect I would like to mention is a return to an emphasis of quality.  When colonial entrepreneurs started a business like furniture manufacturing they did not say to themselves, how can we make the most furniture as cheaply as possible and maximize profits?  They had pride in what they were doing. They wanted to make the best furniture possible.  Today workers are leaving companies because they are making a product or providing a service in which they do not believe.  Whether through a lack of focus or vision or simply having too much administrative management; the need for fulfillment is not being met for these people.  So they start out on their own to make the best possible product and give the customer personal attention.  That is resonating with the public.  That is what the Allentown Public Theatre is all about.  I find it exceptionally inspiring that there are CEOs giving up high paying jobs because they want to make something better.  It gives me hope that business as usual is no longer as powerful an influence.

Lucas: Is the Allentown Public Theatre looking for a home?

Neth:  Yes we have reached the point where we unquestionably need a permanent home.  We require a building that is first of all safe and up to the standard codes.  There are a lot of buildings in downtown Allentown that we would love to occupy, but we cannot afford to bring them up to code.  How exciting it would be, if the city or the Allentown Economic Development Co. or a consortium of businesses could help us get one of these buildings and renovate it for our needs.  We need something that can hold at least 100 people.  It must have an open area for seating and a high ceiling.  From a development perspective, it is beneficial for us to be on the open Hamilton Street corridor around 7th.  We have an eye on a space, but we need to have some architect drawings made up and we would need this done on a pro bono basis.  A permanent home is essential for our audience base and helping us grow it.  Heretofore they had to follow us all over town, wherever we could get a venue.

Lucas: Where does the Allentown Public Theatre need to be in 5 years?

Neth: It is vital the Allentown Public Theater become a self-sustaining concern.  Obviously the Artistic Director position should not be a volunteer one.  The Allentown Public Theatre needs a full company of actors, committed to multiple seasons, living downtown and becoming a part of the community.  We are already donating our time, going out into the community, doing outreach programs and working with schools to promote various programs for students.

Lucas: You mention arts community often.  It is a powerful part of your vision to build not just Theater, but a general sociological stratum of people in all aspects of the arts being a part of the downtown scene.  Has the Allentown Public Theatre received much help from the Allentown government or the Allentown Economic Development Co?

Neth: The Allentown Economic Development Co. has generously given us a discount for our office and storage space at the Bridgeworks complex, but we need more help.  I am committed to Allentown, but it has been a difficult challenge to maintain that loyalty to the city that gives us our name.  The Allentown Public’s Theatre’s first mission is to do Theater.  I have to be honest, if a patron of the arts or an arts council or government like Bethlehem or Easton, interested in encouraging arts to revitalize a downtown section, offered us a building, I would seriously consider moving.  How could I possibly say no?  Allentown has a symphony, a good art museum and the noted Baum School of Arts.  At this point, they are an institution.  What is missing from Allentown, and the Lehigh Valley for that matter, is a strong, professional, public Theater driven by local talent.

Lucas: That must be frustrating.  You have accomplished much with hard work and volunteerism, but you have no full time administration or location.  Funding and management activities are all done on less than a shoestring.  Without more support from the government, councils or private patrons, how does the Allentown Public Theatre survive?

Neth: Yes it is frustrating.  I wish everyone could hear our voice, understand what we offer not only Allentown, but the entire Greater Lehigh Valley Area[9] and help us out anyway they can.  Ultimately helping us would further the goals of governments and councils as well as filling a real public need.  We will survive, however, by working harder to reach out to those who believe in the importance of Theater as one of the focal points of a downtown community and a powerful vehicle for social commentary.  If it means leaving Allentown, sadly we will have to do so.  We will adapt somehow – because we must in order to survive.

Lucas: Adapting to survive that is the basic definition of agile[10].

Neth: Right!

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
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359 Responses to A Natural Agilist Proves the Value of Theater

  1. Elaine says:

    Brian: I will support the Allentown Public Theater even though I am from California. How could anyone not offer their support after such as great interview! -Elaine

    • Brian Lucas says:

      merci beaucoup mon cheri!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you Elaine. Your support means a lot to our company and our community. Allentown may be far from where you are, but we all belong to the greater exchange of ideas that the theatre embodies. I am also originally from California. I grew up outside of San Diego.

  2. David Francavilla says:

    Excellent exchange and subject matter. APT needs to reach out to the large real estate investors to see if someone is willing to give them a sweetheart deal at a building they own. There are a handful that own multiple properties and have a vested interest in Allentown’s revitalization.

    Other funding ideas might be to host entertainment events like bands, dj’s and simple parties. They could charge a cover, and possibly apply for a not for profit and event specific liquor license. Just a thought.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thanks for the advice David!

    • Ed Herman says:

      Not bad advice, but I think these people need more than armchair advice. They need active support. Organizations like this survive by people who volunteer their time and others who donate $10 or $20 that they can sometimes not easily afford.

      • Brian Lucas says:

        Ed your point is well taken! I have heard from David and he promised to become an APT member. Dave is a very supportive person who often helps out others being very generous with his time which is precious and his advice which is always worthwhile and even dollars. He is a remarkably intelligent person whom I had the privilege of interviewing first for this series.

  3. Carol says:

    Great interview Brian! Josh sounds like someone I’d like to meet. Things are tight for me right now, but I’ll donate what I can.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you very much Carol! Your willingness to contribute means a great deal to me personally. I am sure it will inspire others.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you Carol. Any support is welcome. If you live in our area, please consider volunteering with APT. It’s a wonderful way to join the family!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Hi Brian: Vermont is a little far to travel to see them, but I’ll make a donation. What a super conversation you and Josh must have had. I would love to have been a fly on the wall. Take care! J

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you Jennifer! Josh and I have a very good conversation over Chinese Food. It was remarkably easy since we were essentially on the same wave length. It was quite fun when we got into ancient Scandinavian rock art and ritualism.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Yes, it was an exciting lunch! I was particularly intrigued by the move many successful bussiness people are making away from “consumer comfort” to true “creative purpose”. Artists have understood for a long time that creating is a much straighter path to happiness then consuming.

      We’d appreciate any help you can give Jennifer to keep us creating.

  5. Anthony says:

    Another Great post!! This interview should be published in all the local newspapers in the Valley.The public needs to know what this organization does on and off stage.Once they read about The Public Theatre they wil want to get involved and support them…

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you Anthony! Publicity is what they need. More people need to know the true story of what the Allentown Public Theater is all about, how hard they work, and what they give back to the community.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      I love me some Anthony!

      • Brian Lucas says:

        Anthony’s the MAN!

        • EmJay says:

          Hi Brian! My first comment and I am nervous. You get so many comments. Some are so amazing they are almost posts in themselves. I have a question how many of them do you know personally? I noted Anthony has commented before and seems to be a friend. I am just curious. Many of us readers are curious about you and you can’t blame us. You’re an interesting guy. You are without doubt smart, but it is your compassion and humor I find most compelling. I wish you would reconsider creating a Facebook page.

          • Brian Lucas says:

            EmJay – Don’t be nervous there is no reason for any apprehension. I have gotten to know some of the people here personally and met a few like Sally who I have corresponded with. Most I have never met and will probably never meet. All who comment here are special to me for we are sharing thoughts and ideas. When some are courageous enough to offer a lesson they have learned sometimes through bitter experience they help everyone grow. Anthony is a friend of recent years. He is a very forthright, direct and intelligent person with a sense of loyalty that is so very rare these days. I respect him immensely and respect is something that is tough to earn from me. If you can count a person like Anthony a friend no matter how many other problems your life has you can consider yourself fortunate! -Brian

            • Anthony says:

              Wow!! To KIND my friend.. Right back at you

              • Constance says:

                This is off subject so I apologize ahead of time, but the readers here will never get Brian to reveal much about himself. I am not sure this comment will get posted. However, I thought I would satisfy some people’s curiosity so we could move on. If Brian wants to share he will create a Facebook page. Don’t hold your breath though. I have quietly followed Brian’s blog this year since Cheryl a mutual friend told me it existed. I knew Brian when he was in college. He was a forthright and generous person always fighting for the underdog. Brian was also a very complex person capable of being both highly cerebral and extremely physical. He could be very outgoing and quite funny and had a large number of acquaintances. He was very much a charmer and a ladies man. Yet was strangely a private person. There was a great deal going on behind his deep brown eyes. I knew him because we were studying physics, he only had a small number of close friends. I think it is because his mind works so differently from most people. His interests were varied and anything but mundane. His thoughts were always churning on questions and questions about questions and looking for patterns. He saw possibilities that most people can’t and had an amazing ability for instant comprehension. When he did form a friendship it was very deep. Brian was a very generous person and very loyal to his friends. I lost touch with him after college my career in physics took me to Europe. I don’t know Anthony, but I suspect he is drawn to Brian because they are both people who totally lack any disingenuous nature. From reading his blog, which I find outstanding; it is good to see that he apparently hasn’t lost his integrity, his idealism or his giving nature.

  6. Genica says:

    What an interesting interview Brian, I always took the theater for granted and I am sorry I did. I assumed that they got support from the government or businesses. I guess it is up to us to all chip in and help. As a citizen of Allentown I feel obligated to give them a donation. I hope others do the same. Josh seems like a very intelligent person, who is well informed about the history of his profession. He is a powerful advocate for the APT and should inspire others to pursue their dreams.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you for being so honest and direct Genica. We often take for granted things that make our life better that are the result of someone else’s work. That is not something to brood over. What is important it what we do once we are cognizant of the fact! Thanks for donating!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you Genica. you are so right to point out what an easy thing it is to appreciate a thing and yet never think about how it is maintained. We really appreciate your help.

  7. Sally-R says:

    These interviews are fantastic Brian! They are so interesting and educational. I love how you and Josh bounced around from ancient rock art to colonial business philosophy. It would be a treat just to hear you guys do a webinar chat. As you know I am not from the area, but I’ll make a donation shortly.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you Sally! And if you are in the area again let me know. I will be happy to introduce you to the APT’s great performances my treat!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you for your support Sally. I am always inspired when someone is moved to contribute by the very idea of theatre, even before any personal connection.

  8. Riko Nakamura says:

    My roommate is a business student and follows this blog regularly. She sent me this article and I have enjoyed reading it. I is very meaningful to me as a student of Sho-Gekijo I understand the importance of theater as Mr. Neth states. We take theater very seriously in Japan. We have also experienced a cut back on funds due to economic issues. We struggle like you to put on a performance that will make us proud and honor our long history of culture. I have been fortunate to study under a teacher from the Julliard School and appreciate what western culture contributes to theater. Theater truly belongs to the world. As Mr. Neth says, theater is a part of not only entertainment, but public conscious.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you Riko. I agree that the very purpose of theatre is the exploration of ideas. It is indeed a living library. Most people understand the importance of preserving thought and the human experience. They understand the role that a library fills in that regard. However, they often fail to make the connection that theatre is not only one of the most accessible forms for the exchange of ideas, but also the most ancient.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Great comment Riko! I have to research Sho-Gekijo, I am more familiar with Noh and Kabuki styles. I have a great appreciation and respect for Japanese theater and the subtlety of gesture meaning. I was happy to see so much fusion of East-West ideas in Tokyo since it is one of the world’s leading theatrical centers.

  9. Jeremy says:

    Wow!!!!! This interview could be a one act play all by itself! Very powerful! Josh you are one articulate person!!! I’m from Chicago, but man I’m thinking about making a donation.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you Jeremy. We’d greatly appreciate your support. Right now we are raising funds to produce our social justice series. This year we have chosen body image and eating disorders as the topic for public conversation. Last season we produced “the Exonerated” and were able to bring to Allentown the very first person to be exonerated from death row by DNA evidence.

      • Bruce Collier says:

        Josh you should put together a PowerPoint based on the interview and narrate it showing the evolution of theater from ancient ritual depicted in rock drawings to Greek theater to modern companies and show how it affected the social concious and how theater and actors become a downtown social gathering. Post it on your sites and make a YouTube video of it. That will get you attention!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      I agree this is an elevator speech that Josh should give over and over again to promote the APT and Theater in general!

  10. Damon Lewis says:

    I have followed all your interviews Brian with great interest. This was a highly interesting interview in that I believe you said the least of any of your interviews and essentially provided Mr. Neth a bully pulpit. I am not complaining even though it seemed that this interview was light on agile and more about pursuing your dreams regardless of whether you have resources or not. Even if I were not interested in agile or the theater, I would find this interview compelling. Josh is very articulate, very well informed and most importantly has a broad view of the world and an outward focus on people rather than being self-absorbed as some in the acting profession are. He makes a strong case for supporting the theater. I wonder if he has made this argument directly to the powers that be in the various governments in your area and the arts councils if there are any. Perhaps a bit more awareness and a little public opinion and pressure are all that is need to get those bodies to be more supportive of Josh’s organization.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you for your comments Damon. I agree that awareness is key, and that many people of influence beyond the local level do not know we exist. Public money for the arts is scarce, but we would welcome “bricks and mortar” support.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Josh is very smart, very talented and eloquent. This article fits in the theme that you need commitment to be successful in an agile world. Jack a long time reader and commenter got it right in one!

  11. FabulousGirl says:

    Man with publicity like this Josh could end up on Broadway! Wish I had a publicist like Brian!

  12. Slinky says:

    I saw Josh in Company he was sooo hot! I didn’t know about APT. I will try and join.

  13. Fran says:

    I have an idea why not gather all the people Brian has interviewed put them on a stage for a round table discussion and see what happens. Brian of course will moderate. I’ll bet it would be interesting!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      That’s actually an interesting idea! These are all people I respect and I have to admit my respect is not easy to earn. I am not sure how the logistics would work out.

  14. Haley says:

    I have a better idea! Gather them all up and have them interview Brian! Maybe as a gang they can subdue him! lol I am just dying to find out more about him. I wonder if Brian was ever in the theater? Maybe we can get some information out of Josh. Well Josh what can you tell us about Brian! He doesn’t tweet or Facebook. The only time we get a glimpse is when he interviews someone. Come spill it! What’s he really like? Is he as smart as he seems? Is he a friend? How long have you known him? We need to know!! If you spill it I’ll donate even though I’m from Kentucky.

    • Amy Marie Beasley says:

      I’m in on that! We need to know more about the mysterious Brian. And now we have leverage so give it up Mister Ness, I mean Neth! lmbo

      • Carla says:

        Me too its for the good of the theater. I’ll bet Josh says he doesn’t know Brian at all. Darn!

        • Nahleen says:

          I can’t believe I almost missed this post! It promises to get interesting if Josh spills the beans. Brian’s blog is just too inviting and Brian just too much of a mystery man. I join the crowd in forcing Josh to tell us what he thinks of the mysterious interviewer.

          • Debbie says:

            I am in as well.

            • Brian Lucas says:

              And I’m out so the nays have it!

              • Nahleen says:

                Brian breakdown and give us something we are dying to know more about you. Just post a picture PLEEZEEE!

                • Brian Lucas says:

                  My favorite book of all time is the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien, my second favorite is the Iliad by Homer, my favorite piece of music is Beethoven’s 5th symphony, my favorite group of all time is ZZ Top though I am fond of Pink right now because she is such a great performer, my favorite camping spot is a little nook in the Mohave Dessert, my favorite meal is Wild caught Alaskan Salmon encrusted with a Pecan Glaze over a bed of steamed baby spinach in Cheshire Cheese and wine sauce, my favorite wine is Châteauneuf-du-Pape Muscardin varietal, my favorite all time movie Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, my favorite flower the Spanish Iris, my favorite painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, my favorite poet Robert Frost, my current favorite TV show the Mentalist my favorite card game draw poker or Bridge depending on my mood. That will have to suffice!

      • Brian Lucas says:

        Really Amy! Now see what you started Haley! As Spock said in Star Trek, “Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting” So I must remain elusive!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Well Haley, I’ll have to give it to you in bits (like any good salesman). I’ll start by telling you that Brian has one hell of a singing voice.

      • Brian Lucas says:

        Hell is right, I am one of the tortures in Dante’s Inferno. I do have a clever story about my debut singing the bass solo from the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony…

      • Haley says:

        REALLY! OMG! What does he sing???? Has he been in the theater with you? Is that how you know him?

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Haley and I thought you were a friend! You have no idea how impossibly difficult I can be to pin down. I am giving another webinar in July if you are interested.

  15. Armonde says:

    I came across this post looking for information to support our high school theater. What a treasure trove this post is. What a profoundly moving, richly meaningful and beautifully expressed argument for the theater Josh Neth has made. He is pure genius! This is so perfect it goes beyond Josh as he so eloquently expresses it and applies to all theater around the world. Thank you so much for posting this!

  16. Jack says:

    Another great interview Brian! I admire Josh’s passion. I know he will be successful. It is such a shame that they are not getting more government and arts committee support. This post surprised me a little bit at first and then I noticed you were starting out on a theme of the importance commitment to a vision and Josh certainly has that. You are one deep fellow my friend. if I don’t understand what you are doing right away, I usually get it the next day or the day after that. I wish you and Josh all the best!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you for your comments Jack, I was also surprised by the interview. I didn’t know if I would have anything to offer the agile world. You are right that Brian has a unique gift for seeing parallels and synchronicities in a very broad spectrum.

  17. Theodore N. Whalley says:

    I agree with the assessments made here. Mr. Neth has made a credible case for the financial benefits of the theater as well as the emotional and moral ones. Government organizations that are part of center city renewal or revitalization efforts should partner with groups like Mr. Neth represents. As he says quite correctly it is in their best interest.

  18. Gail Fisher says:

    How interesting! I had no real appreciation of the dynamics of theater in society. I have never attended a performance of the Allentown Public Theater, but I will soon. I honestly did not know they existed. I will also make a donation.

  19. Oscar Bergin says:

    I wonder if the theater produces more committed actors like Josh because only the really dedicated are up for the daily struggle for existence. Still I believe Shakespeare stopped writing and performing once he did not have to for financial reasons. I would be interested to hear what Mr. Neth thinks of that.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      We’ll never really know why Shakespeare stopped writing. He “left” London in 1613. Some speculate it was the burning of the Globe Theatre that caused him to return to Stratford. I’ve even heard theories that he had lost his sight. What we do know is that he died three years later. So I presume to believe that theatre was as vital to him as food and water.

  20. Torc-girl says:

    Super interview Josh! You should consider lecturing at Arts Quest! I would go to hear you. I just ran across this looking for Allentown theater. How did you get to be interviewed by a business blog? I have to tell you that I did not know about your theater before this. I am going to the website to check it out. Hope to see a performance of yours soon.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Yes, please check out the website and come see a show! I teach at Arts Quest occasionally, and APT’s improv group, the Associated Mess performs at Steel Stacks.

      To answer your question, I think Brian drew a parallel between the struggle of an arts organization, and the need to remain agile.

  21. Cheryl says:

    Another terrific post Brian! I saw Josh in the Associated Mess at the Steel Stacks when I was in town and it was surprisingly good improv! I would recommend that everyone in Allentown get behind the APT and support it. I will even though I now live in New Jersey. To Brian’s fan-club here, I’ll admit I haven’t seen Brian in awhile, but I did know him quite well when I lived in Bethlehem. Just to tease everyone and embarrass Brian, I will leak the following to his readership. My nickname for Brian was Diamond (which he hated), because he has so many facets. Brian is a very generous soul and a real gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor. And he is SUPER, SUPER SMART! He sings opera and Rat-Pack among others and once sung me Drink, Drink, Drink from the Student Prince so beautifully it made me cry. He can hold a conversation at a party for hours and you will positively not get bored! That’s enough for now. Brian just turned scarlet! Enjoy!

    • Sally-R says:

      I probably shouldn’t do this, but I just can’t resist. I started following Brian’s blog early on and I was impressed from the start. Brian was generous enough to correspond with me and gave me great advice and very solid and practical help on my consulting business. He is very well read on all things agile and a brilliantly original agile thinker. He is amazingly modest though. We actually met for a late lunch/early dinner once when I was in his area at a great steakhouse called Shula’s. It was a high-end place with superb food and I intended to treat Brian for all the help he had given me. He very sneakily slipped the waitress his credit card during the meal and when we were done the waitress simply said the bill was all taken care of. Meeting Brian in person exceeded all my expectations. He is a real gentleman and a true charmer. He is so conscientious and considerate to everyone he made me feel very relaxed. By the end of the meal I thought I was talking to a very dear friend I had known for years. Well that’s my Brian story!

      • Tandi says:

        Ooo! I’ve been there and its expensive. Brian sounds totally awesome!

        • Slinky says:

          Hey I know how APT can raise money auction off a date with Josh or Brian or both! I’ve seen Josh and he hot, but Brian sounds sooo interesting and mysterious. I just got to meet him. I never been to Shula’s its too expensive. Dinner there with Brian would ROCK!!!!!

    • MarissaH says:

      We should respect Brian’s privacy. Otherwise he might stop blogging.

    • Scarlett says:

      Brian sounds so dreamy like I have to meet him!!!!!

  22. Caitlin says:

    I understand Brian intentionally did not cover more of Josh’s background. If Josh is willing to share I think it would be interesting to know how long he has been in theater and where he got his training and so on. Is the APT his first effort? He is so articulate that a little back-story would be nice.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Hi Caitlyn. I grew up near San Diego, Ca and started doing commercials when I was young. I studied acting and directing in college, but really learned most of what I know from working with excellent directors and reading everything I could get my hands on. I particularly enjoy Sanford Meisner on Acting.

  23. Ronald says:

    Seriously good article about the importance of theater in a business blog! Go figure?

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Ronald why shouldn’t a business blog deal with any important business? And the theme of interviews with a natural agilist is that agile thinking is actually more natural and rigid planned thinking.

  24. Dale says:

    I saw the Associated Mess and they were great. I already have donated, but I will again.

  25. Gundrum says:

    Not an Allentown native unfortunately otherwise I would donate. We do have a local theater here in Flagstaff that I contribute to in honor of Josh’s passion.

  26. Geri says:

    Darn it! I’m from A’town & I didn’t know these guys existed! Sorry Josh! I have to check you guys out!

  27. S-George says:

    Hi Josh: As an amateur actress, I always thought that if you were a paid actor in equity that you couldn’t do community theater. I asked because Brian said you were in the Pennsylvania Playhouse production of Company and I know they are a community theater. Have they changed things? Just curious. Great interview by the way. :Sandy

  28. Charlene says:

    Hey Josh you should read Brian’s post Employee Suggestions and team up with him to shoot it as a YouTube video that could get you some more exposure! Maybe you could shoot business videos to help fund your theater. Think about it Brian and Josh. We’ve been waiting for a video on this for some time

  29. Martin says:

    I found this from my Facebook page. I’ve been an Allentown resident all my life and a theater goer. I never knew this group existed. I need to see a performance before I am willing to become a member. This was a very good publication I admit and I admire Mr. Neth for it. I want to see for myself before I commit though.

  30. Nathan says:

    This is a very positive interview as all your interviews are. How do you screen prospective subjects? Also I noted that you did not include your usual disclaimer at the end of the interview. Are you affiliated with APT?

    • Brian Lucas says:

      At the time of this interview I was not in any way affiliated with APT. Recently I have been involved in some fund raising activities for the fine people at APT in a minor way. It is a pleasure to know them.

  31. Ralph Hennessy says:

    I am sure Josh is a gifted performer and sounds very articulate, but Brian you are an extremely gifted writer capable of bringing out the best in the people you interview. Don’t underestimate your abilities, you should be writing full time!!

  32. Crystal says:

    I learned much about the theater I did not know from this interview. I am from Tennessee so I guess I won’t ever see Josh act or hear him lecture, unless he does a YouTube video. I think a podcast of this interview is a good idea. I feel I have to weigh in on the strong reader interest in Brian’s personal life. We all search for someone we can look up to. Call it hero worship – whatever. You have to face it Brian. You have entered the public eye with your blog. Your writing is compelling. You seem to treat people and all forms of life as if they are all rare and precious. You think of others before you think of yourself. It is fascinating to see how fondly some of your old friends feel about you. You really seem to make a vivid impression on the new friends and readers you have made since you started your blog. I can understand your desire for privacy. I can even admire the fact that you seem to be without hubris. But face the fact that if you weren’t interesting we wouldn’t be interested. I have met some very smart people in my life. And while we have not met, I can say without doubt you are one of the smartest persons I know of. You seem so down to Earth though it makes me feel as if you could have a cup of coffee with anyone and they would enjoy the conversation. Your capacity for caring makes me admire you the most. Based on your friends comments, it seems I am not the only one who thinks this about you. I really hope that you continue to share more about yourself with your readers. You are a wonderful inspiration.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Crystal I have made a number of good friends since I started this blog most of whom I will never meet and some of whom we only exchange thoughts via comments and replies. That does not make the friendship less dear to me. I would never consider myself to be a hero. I do care about people and all good creatures and the world in which we live. I don’t have to feign interest in people, nor compassion. My mother was a very compassionate and empathetic person, almost psychic. So I grew up with a very positive influence. I have met and been inspired by many wonderful people in my life from uncles to teachers to business people to scientists to artists in all mediums to a myriad of wonderfully important people who sweep floors, serve drinks in bars or food in restaurants and do all the little things often thanklessly that keep the world going. The most important influences on me are books and nature. I am drawn to classic literature and try to read a book a day. When ever I get the chance to be free I will spend it in the mountains, or the dessert or the sea alone. It is difficult for me to view myself as intelligent because there is so much that I realize that I do not know. Each day I try to chip away at my ignorance, but the true acquisition of knowledge only leads to more questions. Learning is important and part of my life’s blood, but learning without doing is tragic. So I encourage everyone to try to accomplish something whether it is getting a degree or discovering the joys of sailing or horseback riding or volunteering for community service or simply planting a tree. Go out and do it!

  33. David Rosenberry says:

    I can’t believe I found this on a business blog. Kudos to Brian for posting it. But man, Josh this is flat out the FINEST interview on the theater I have ever read. You are a brilliant conversationalist. You have to put this on YouTube! You should reach more people with your message.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you for your kind words David. I think everyone is definitely on to something with the youtube idea. I would love for more people to understand the impact that theatre has had on their lives.

  34. Bobbie Boscia says:

    Wonderful interview Brian! They are all good, but I think this one was the best yet. It gives us all encouragement to see people from many walks of life following their dreams and being successful. I know that you are interviewing good candidates, but you are the common denominator that is bringing the best out of all of them. With them all coming from such diverse backgrounds, it amazing you find a common ground for communicating with them all.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Bobbie – I have so much fun doing this, I wish I had more time to do more. Sitting down and talking with people who think and are actually doing something they believe in and are capable of intelligent expression and an exchange of ideas is pure joy. – Brian

  35. Clifton Stoves says:

    I am a strictly amateur actor in community theater, but I am completely blown away by this interview. It is an unbelievably powerful endorsement of the Theater and Josh’s skills as a communicator. What wonderful publicity this is not only for the Allentown Public Theater, but theater everywhere. I wish our local community theater in Iowa could get this kind of media exposure.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      I’m thrilled to share the boards with people like you Clifton. I don’t know a single professional actor who wasnt brought up and nurtured by a community of “amateurs”

  36. SaucyLady says:

    Brian how much would you charge to do an interview? You’re better than the cover of The Rolling S_ _ _ _!!!

  37. Trent Moyer says:

    I read this 3 times it was so good! I don’t know who really deserves the credit for this Josh or Brian, it doesn’t matter a darn though since this post rocks!

  38. James Mayo says:

    If this interview doesn’t get the people in the community that Josh’s troupe acts in going and supporting the APT’s efforts, there is something wrong with them!!!

  39. Mullins says:

    Cool interview thanks Brian!

  40. George E. Fury says:

    This is the most impressive interview I have EVER read on the theater and it comes from a director of a small theater group and the writer of a business blog! How is this possible? I have no idea what “AGILE” is in the business sense and I guess in fairness to the blog’s author I should read more of his posts. I found this looking through searches for “theater” and “downtown revitalization” because we are looking to fund some community theater efforts in our downtown district. Much didn’t apply then I came on this GEM! Neth spells it ALL out in a nutshell with beautiful eloquence! The case he makes for the importance of theater is so direct and well stated that it is hard to deny. Lucas doesn’t say much in the interview which is surprising to me. Interviewers always seem so eager to me to show how smart they are they never know when to shut up. This interview is so well organized and flows so smoothly that I guess it is because Lucas is a master at this and not out to prove anything. Speaking of proof, this is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. So thanks a bunch guys! My hat is off to you both!!! I hope things work out for the APT. If something like this doesn’t get the local government’s attention you ought to vote them out of office! After all it is election time!!!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      Thank you George. I hope this interview inspires your community to get behind local theatre efforts. I can tell you that Brian’s craft and talent are very present in this interview. He is also a man of action. Not only has he helped bring attention to APT through his blog, but he has personally organized several fundraising efforts for our company since our first meeting.

  41. Jerry says:

    Brian I am sorry I haven’t commented on this before. You have posted yet another fantastic interview in the interviews with a natural agilist series. I don’t know how you are able to find the right people and make these interviews as golden as they are. It is pure poetry. If anyone doubts that you are the genius behind these interviews they need to read them all and then look at your bio. Wow if I was have as smart as you I would be a professor. lol Keep writing I noticed you aren’t replying to comments as much as you used to and I miss that. Anyone in the Lehigh Valley area who reads this and still doesn’t support the APT is just plain close minded!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thanks Jerry finding the right people to interview is all about finding real people and not carefully crafted facades. I do this by networking and reading and listening. I am almost instantly drawn to these kind of people and repelled by phonies. The pure poetry just comes naturally from discussing something important that I believe in with intelligent people. I have been very busy as of late but I will try to comment and post more. -Brian

  42. Lewis Bruno says:

    It is almost difficult to believe that this interview wasn’t somewhat sculpted like well written dialog for a play. It’s just too perfect. And do you know what? That doesn’t matter one bit! This is so wonderfully expressive and informative, I have to bow to Josh and Brian. Even if they sat down to write this as you would a speech, it is so fundamentally strong and makes so much sense that it would have been almost foolish to do otherwise. I would like to hear from Mr. Lucas how he conducted this interview if he is willing to share his expertise.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Lewis – I always tape my interviews, sometimes over a meal, since it helps the subject relax. I try to prepare for the interview with research and allow the person I am interviewing the freedom to express themselves and their thoughts fully. I only interject for emphasis or clarity or if there is a tangent that needs to be connected. I never sit down with an interview subject ahead of time to plan the path of the interview or go over what I expect them to say. I will have a pre-interview with someone who is a bit nervous to simply explain the process. I think the biggest secrets to interviewing are to put the other person at ease and then be generally interested in them and what they are saying. Proper preparation is important so that you don’t waste their time. It is interesting, but in all the people I have interviewed none of them tried to end the interview. This is despite the fact that they are all very busy people. They were having a good time sharing their thoughts, knowing that they were helping other people and were reluctant to have it end. -Brian

  43. Rose McKinnon says:

    This is what happens when you bring two smart people together – PURE MAGIC! The theater is often the step child of the arts community and Josh with Brian’s help has made a monumental case for the importance of theater. This interview should be posted in every theater, every theater column and sent by all theater groups to all their friends. I am going to!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you Rose it is people like you that comment and pass the word on that make blogging possible for me and rewarding. When I receive a comment like yours I feel a great sense of renewal and energy. Thanks for being a reader.

  44. Jamie Cambel says:

    When is the YouTube version of this going to come out! This is bonnie fine press for the Allentown Public Theatre. Here in Scotland we take theater very seriously as you could well imagine. I am sorry to see that my American brethren are struggling for support. Gie to it laddies!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      I only wish we had the same sense of national pride in our theatre. Unfortunately our pop culture has moved away from honest communion in the arts. In a time when it is becoming easier and easier to detach, when there are more and more devices to act as buffers to true connection, theatre is even more vital.

  45. Alison Sinclair says:

    Lord! Finally someone who gets it! How you ever got a business blog to interview you Josh you have to tell me. I have been trying to get more businesses to support our productions because we need a new theater. We have a loyal audience, but we are in a poor community so money is tight. If I could get an interview like you did in a business blog I believe it would help. So tell me how did you get Brian to interview you? Most interviewers seem to want a big name business person to drive traffic to their blog.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      I got lucky. Brian noticed what we were doing, what we were trying to do, and wanted to help. I think the first step is to do theatre that makes people talk. Then when people do notice, you aren’t searching for something to say.

  46. Meghan Gilly says:

    I read the other interviews before commenting here. I think Brian is the most brilliant interviewer I have ever read! He brings out the best in whomever he interviews. Josh you are a very well spoken advocate of the theater and I am sure you have been interviewed before although I could find only snippets in a Google search. How would you compare this interview with others you have done? And I would love to know as others have said how you got Brian to interview you in the first place. Are you and Brian going to do anything else? I think it would be great if you and Brian wrote something on the history of theater and you performed it for a YouTube video. I read his posts on Employee Suggestions where he wrote dialog and about his time traveling and they were gripping.

    • Joshua Neth says:

      It is very easy to be interviewed by Brian. Unlike most interviews, Brian doesn’t come at you with a series of questions, pen in hand. We instead had a lively discussion over lunch where I was allowed jump from tangent to tangent. It is Brian’s skill as a writer that gives the interview it’s form.

  47. PepperSpiceGirl says:

    I wish my blog got as many comments as yours! I wish I was as smart as you are! I wish I was as good a writer as you are. I wish you would carry a link to my blog. [deleted by administrator] I wish I knew cool guys like you and Josh!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Dear PSG – I appreciate the compliments, but I like t see the comments focus on technical aspects of the post. Josh is certainly an interesting person to talk to and if you are ever in the area check out one of his performances. I know that at times he and other members of the crew will go out afterwards for drinks with members of the audience. -Brian

  48. Gaffer says:

    Yeowee Josh this was one powerhouse interview! Question: what is your opinion we’er a small playhouse and we don’t have a technical director. We just all pitch in an build and maintain what we need. We put all our emphasis on acting not setting. We are trying to grow now and we have a choice between getting a bigger place or a technical director. Which in your opinion is more important?

    • Joshua Neth says:

      It all depends on how you “sell” your company. APT hangs it’s hat on the talent of the acting company. We do minimal tech. A tech director is worth their weight in gold, but you cant really build an audience without space.

      My advice would be, consider if you can really afford the overhead of a building. You can usually find TDs and designers who will work on a short term contract. A building however is usually a commitment of years, not months.

  49. MIchaelV says:

    Is good to see passion in Josh theater… you believe and it will happen.

  50. Roland says:

    As an amateur performer with thoughts of directing I wonder if Josh could share more about his background in becoming an actor and an artistic director. I like to know what he felt were mistakes and things he did right and any advice he has to offer. Thanks!

    • Joshua Neth says:

      I think the easiest mistake to make is over thinking! Acting is doing. If you can get your actors to put their focus outside of themselves, you’re ahead of the game. When you direct, remember what you needed when you were an actor.

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