MY JOURNEY FROM ECONOMIST TO PLAYWRIGHT
By Anthony E. Gallo
Often I am asked. Whydid you become a playwright?
Most people have never known economist who at the height of his career abandoned it, and become a playwright? And a religious (Judeo-Christian) playwright at that. Well that is my story. Started at age 58, mind you
Therefore, for my own assessment and to answer that question so often posed to me I have decided to collect my thoughts on that journey, how it came about, and where I am today.
What lead to the Decision?
Fifteen years, I realized that I had been an economist for nearly forty years as I approached my sixtieth birthday. The career had been rewarding. But it was time for a career change. My younger boss’ decision to become a farmer and fisherman, after forty years as an economist also influenced me. As he so aptly said “You spend your first thirty years acquiring and education and staring your career, then thirty years in your career, and the last thirty years doing something totally different.
Then my good friend Herbert Stein, chair of our Book Discussion Group at the Cosmos Club, repeated what he had so often said: Economics is a path and an end all. Philosophy is the next step. I admired Dr. Stein tremendously. He really set the wheels in motion.
As a Federal Economist I had published nearly 240 articles in the field of Food Marketing and had been economics editor of the Food Marketing Review, following my stint as a college economics professor and banker. Forty years was too long a time to be in one profession. Yes I would become an annuitant but retirement for this Alpha type male was not an option.. Consulting as a career would be more of the same. And I had been a businessman, being a early pioneer in renovating historic homes in what became the Capitol Hill Historic, and did not want more of the same again.
The decision was made: My economist days would be over. But what next. I then gave myself several parameters. The new career had to be public service oriented. It had to serve the public good. There would be no monetary considerations. Through investment and frugality and a pension, my income would be sufficient. My new endeavor would be a career and not a hobby. I have plenty of hobbies---ballroom dancing, bridge, extensive travel, historic preservation, antiques, history, music, swimming, bicycling and ands o on. I wanted a career which required a real level of output. Wanted the new career to make use of my interest in history, philosophy, religion, biblical studies, theatre, music.
Zippo1 After several weeks of reflection, my decision was made. I would go into religion. Yes religion. And it had all started 17 years earlier when I took a purely secular trip to Israel in 1980 . The trip to Israel became my redemption. Why? We go back 18 years. I was a complete agnostic’ I too a purely secular trip and had a religious s experience. What. Yes’ you heard me. I was raised a Roman Catholic. . All of a sudden a greater power came over me . I was under the power of a greater power. God came into my life. I began ferociously reading the Bible. . I Turned to God. Then I read the Bible every day and visited all the churches I became a Christian. I visited many churches, but then want back to the church of my childhood. From that day on, I communicated with God every single day. Life began to change
Now that that decision was made how should I proceed?
I considered several avenues
Study theology. This was not what I really wanted to d. . I had already spent too many years in study o my PhD in economics. Go into the clergy? That simply would not work
Become a deacon? Absolutely not. Become a missionary? Not in my blood.
Finally,after three months at least, I decided to become a playwright. Why. The theatre would be my pulpit. Did I have any theater experience? Well back in the late 1960s, I was a part time professional actor which started off a a hobby in the id sixties, and then became professional. I became an economist by day---banker first and then college professor. Eventually I became a part time professional actor and a member of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild. Also was working on a PhD in economics following. I did many roles but decided that in 1970 I would become either a professional economist or a professional actor. I wisely chose the economist route. Thank God. My last role was as the Paul the lawyer in born yesterday. And I remember my last speech to the cast and crew in 1969 which ending by my saying I will never act again.
More importantly than this experiences that drama would incorporate my knowledge of history religion philosophy and allow me to transpose these to the performing arts.
More importantly, my life from early childhood was on of conflict. And tat would be incorporated in my playwriting. And now I would be writing for the stage and screen.
My new parameters kicked in. Then I began writing plays. I had three caveats. First, all success would be measured by spiritual growth. I have been able to uphold that. Second would be Judeo- Christian playwright. Third all works would be written for general audience. I would not be a Sunday school playwright. Fourth, what my father taught me fifty years before. That there are a million roads to God, and I hope I am on one of them.
Learning a new profession?
I would have to start from scratch and learn the new art of drama, but more importantly the craft of writing drama. I began reading immediately. Then I took course at the writers center, online, and at the Dramatist Forum. The playwrights collaborative and many other which taught me the sill of the profession. Above all I would writer and write. And wrote a lot of junk. I also read a lot of plays and a lot of theatre. I began writing. I did not know what to write, but then came up with an idea. I started writing screenplays. Well they stunk.
Then one day we had an assignment to writer about a situation that was highly unlikely but could possibly happen. I wrote a scene about a pope who decided it was all nonsense and converted to Judaism. Then someone pointed out about the Chief Rabbi of Rome during the holocaust in Italy. I took an avid interest in the subject and within a year I wrote my first holocaust play, Eugenio. One of the characters in the play was thrown out, and I gave her her own play. Margherita, the story of Benito Mussolini and his Jewish Margherita Sarfatti, is my moist successful work.
Well then I knew I had to writer plays about my favorite monarchs, King David and King Solomon, and this began my first two biblical plays, And I would on the spur of the moment make a decision to write on a certain subject and proceed. Thus began my Americana plays. Lincoln and God, Vandergrift My home town), Charleston Resifted(about life), The Botticelli cruise( about identity) and then came back to the Bible. Who was the most influential theologian of all time?, I tookook on the impossible task of writing a play about St. Paul.
Decision To Self Produce Plays, Books, and Motion Pictures
Every playwright goes through the dread of submitting plays. I have hundreds of them. I certainly did send plays out beginning in 2002. After years of rejection I did what the Dramatists Guild of America strongly suggested., self production . It wasn’t easy. Between 2002 and 2006 I had had no production, but many readings of plays
Readings however were produced by forums, even though under the banner of the Seventh Street Playhouse
Beginning 2007 I hired several outside directors to produce my plays. Hence I was self-producing. I then began my own company which produced all of my plays I have now had a total of 111 stagings.
I now have three companies. In addition to the Seventh Street Playhouse, Browns Court Publishing Company publishes all of my plays which are now available from Amazon. The Eastern Market Studios is my motion picture company. We have competed one motion picture, Charleston Revisited based on my stage play.
What Is Happening Now. The Twenty Four Day
How much do I like my newest career? Well as an economist I worked an average of eight hours a day. t When I became a businessman in 1973 that changed to sixteen hours a day. As a playwright, I work twenty four hours a day. Only a small portion of that is spent at the computer. The rest is observing all around me , including what I hear people say all around me, what I read, what I see and situations I find myself in.
I am grateful to all my supports. Many have been with me throughout my fifteen year journey. And In 2007 a new woman came into my life. Susan. She is my strongest supporter, and has been an invaluable assist. Thanks Susan
I have read the Bible every day of my life since 1980, which also serves as an inspiration. I also make sure that each day I spend any number of hours at my favorite hobbies: bridge, ballroom dancing, bicycling, swimming, historic preservation, reading, gardening, and extensive travel, both domestic and abroad with Susan.
I am also a very active member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Often go to New York City. And I had never even though of a Broadway production . Well it happened. Broadway at Last. I signed a contract with the Nederlander family in New York . Margherita (premiered at the Cosmos Club in 2002) is under contract to Browne-Nederlander Productions in New York City.
I am now celebrating my fifteenth year as a playwright; I like to call myself a playwright-economist, which brings on guffaws I have a total body of about 80 works, ranging from screenplays to dramas to librettos to essays. However only a small portion of them will eer see the light of day. As of now I have 16 copyrighted plays which have been performed 112 times, including eleven productions. And we have had a large number of paid productions.
My plays include whose fourteen copyrighted, published, and produced dramas include – in addition to the above trilogy – Margherita, Eugenio, Better than the Best, Vandergrift!, Lincoln and God, Charleston Revisited, The Botticelli Cruise, Paul, The Springfield Boys, motion picture Charleston Revisited, and folk operas Lincoln and God and David. works. My plays have been staged 110 times in thirty venues in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. I’m alsoalso artistic director of the Seventh Street Playhouse and Eastern Market Studios. Margherita (premiered at the Cosmos Club in 2002) is under contract to Browne-Nederlander Productions in New York City.
What commonality do I see. as the great commonality between playwriting and economics. What happens when the equilibrium situation is disturbed?
I will die a playwright. . Will I go back to being an economist? No I don’t think so even though once an economist always an economist. The same does not apply to playwrights. I wonder why. I think I shall continue writing plays until my last droop of breath fails me. And of course I say this knowing the first commandment that every actor playwright and director producer knows. The theater is an evil mother. It is even more so for a Judeo-Christian playwright. .
ANTHONY E. GALLO 202 544 6973 email@example.com
Religion play an an extremely important role in Mr Gallo's life. He is a self -proclaimed Judeo-Christian playwright which is at the basis of al his plays. His story on this score goes back to 1980 when he was in his early forties.
At that time he was a respectable quasi atheist who attended church with some regularity. He took a purely secular trip to Israel and had a religious experience.
The rest is all history.
Mr. Gallo, an economist at that time, plunged wholeheartedly into his new discovery with the help of the Bible, Malcom Muggegridge, and C.S. Lewis. Since that month in March 1980, Mr. Gallo has been involved in Biblical reading, reflection on a daily basis, and attends regular weekly church services.
As the then Economist approached the forty-second anniversary of his career as a Federal economist, he made a major carer decision, He would go into a profession as far removed from eConomist as possible. After much retrospection he chose religion as his next career. He would go into religion, and the stage would be his pulpit.
Please read his essay below which describes his journey.