Creative Space with Jennifer Logue

Tony Savant On The Journey To Acting and Betting On Yourself

January 14, 2024 Jennifer Logue
Creative Space with Jennifer Logue
Tony Savant On The Journey To Acting and Betting On Yourself
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On today’s episode of Creative Space, we have the pleasure of speaking with Tony Savant, one of the most respected acting teachers in the country and the Director of Playhouse West Philadelphia.

He’s helped train some of the most successful actors working in the industry today, including: Ashley Judd, Scott Caan, Jim Parrack, Jean Elie, Charisma Carpenter and many, many more.

Along with Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum, Tony is one of only a handful of teachers to observe Sandy Meisner teach after his move to Los Angeles. Tony also served as the Artistic Director of the Playhouse West Theater Company in LA for over 20 years.

Tony created, directed, and co-wrote the critically-acclaimed production, “Welcome Home, Soldier,” which ran for 25 years in Los Angeles and for a time, was the longest-running drama in the country.

In August of 2012, Tony moved from Los Angeles and founded the east coast branch of Playhouse West—Playhouse West-Philadelphia, where he now trains a new generation of actors.

We cover so much ground in this episode, including Tony’s journey to becoming an actor and teacher as well as the importance of betting on yourself. Whether you’re an actor or not, the wisdom Tony shares in this episode is valuable no matter what industry you’re in.

I hope the conversation inspires you as much as it inspired me. Enjoy!

For more on Tony Savant and Playhouse West, visit: playhousewest.com/philadelphia.

To sign up for the weekly Creative Space newsletter, visit: eepurl.com/h8SJ9b.

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https://bit.ly/3ECD2Kr.

0:00—Introduction

3:15—On loving life and learning

6:21—Tony’s early life in Pottstown, PA

9:09—Getting his start with acting

10:29—A life-changing flight from Orlando

12:37—Tony’s “moment of madness”

16:33—The steps Tony took to become an actor

19:27—Finding Sanford Meisner and Playhouse West

21:12—”Become the kind of person everyone is dying to work with.”

26:20—Getting his start as an acting teacher

34:40—Tony’s favorite memories from LA

38:00—The story behind “Welcome Home, Soldier”

47:00—Sandy Meisner’s response to the play

48:04—Tony’s definition of creativity

1:05:00—Taking risks and betting on yourself

1:13:00—It takes bravery to be an artist. 

1:18:00—You have to have a higher purpose as a teacher. 

1:23:56—Launching Playhouse West Philadelphia

1:28:32—The greatest challenge 

1:29:59—The greatest reward 

1:31:51—What’s next for Playhouse West?



Jennifer Logue:

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Creative Space, a podcast where we explore, learn and grow in creativity together. I'm your host, jennifer Loge, and today we have the pleasure of chatting with Tony Savant, one of the most respected acting teachers in the country and the director of Playhouse West Philadelphia. He's helped train some of the most successful actors working in the industry today, including Ashley Judd, scott Kahn, jim Parrick, jean-élie Charisma Carpenter and many, many more. Along with Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum, tony is one of only a handful of teachers to observe Sandy Meisner teach. After his move to Los Angeles, tony also served as the artistic director of the Playhouse West Theatre Company in LA for over 20 years. Tony created, directed and co-wrote the critically acclaimed production Welcome Home Soldier, which ran for 25 years in Los Angeles and, for a time, was the longest running drama in the country. In August of 2012, tony moved from Los Angeles and founded the East Coast branch of Playhouse West Playhouse West Philadelphia, where he now trains a new generation of actors. I am beyond honored to have him on the show. Welcome to Creative Space, tony.

Tony Savant:

Thank you. Thank you for having me. I feel privileged to be here.

Jennifer Logue:

Awesome, thank you, I mean we. I started studying with you in 2018 and it was just such a life-changing experience for me as an artist, and so really probably one of the biggest moments for me in my creative journey so far was studying at Playhouse West.

Tony Savant:

Oh, that's nice to hear.

Jennifer Logue:

Total game-changing experience. So anyway, I'm not sure if you got a chance to listen to the podcast, but it's about I listened to a lot of podcasts.

Tony Savant:

Honestly, I've. Unfortunately, I listened to a part of one that you had sent me. I think you sent me a link to one. I listened to that, but I am a huge podcast. I've got this yeah, a bunch of podcasts I listened to on a regular basis. I need to listen to yours more.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, yes, well, yeah, there's so many, but where are you calling from today?

Tony Savant:

I'm at home. I'm home in my office here, my old house, lovely In Pottstown, pennsylvania, yeah.

Jennifer Logue:

Cool, and how was your break?

Tony Savant:

Oh, it's been nice. I mean, I don't get many breaks during the year One little week in the summertime and then this week week and a half I get at Christmas and it's nice, it's nice.

Jennifer Logue:

So, for someone with as busy of a schedule as you have, what do you do to recharge, recharge?

Tony Savant:

Oh, to recharge? I don't know. I've never, to be honest, I've never really been a person who needed to recharge, recharge, like I love life. I am constantly on the go. I like to work, I like to do things. I like to always be doing something. You know, honestly, I look forward to those moments in life where I can be completely bored. I'm never bored. I love it. I'm really really never bored. I can sit out on my porch on a summer afternoon after cutting the grass and working in the yard all day and drink a cup of coffee or iced tea and just look off my front porch in the woods and I'm perfectly happy. But otherwise, I mean, I like to read, I like to write, I like to watch movies, I love listening to podcasts, I love to learn. I'm constantly involved and engaged in learning new things. I think learning new things if you say what recharges me, that's what recharges me Like I love to be inspired by other people creative people, anybody. I love to meet new people and learn new things. You can learn something from everyone you meet. So I love learning about what other people do. Otherwise, yeah, I like to take walks and work out and go play with my grandson. I love to work around my house and work in the yard. I'm crazy, I'm nuts like that. I could spend all day long outside pulling weeds and chopping wood and I absolutely love that stuff A great Miser activity, right yeah, Bring that on stage.

Jennifer Logue:

So they're all active things I feel like from acting. It's made me appreciate moments more in my own life.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, yeah, like quiet time.

Jennifer Logue:

Mm-hmm.

Tony Savant:

Is that what you mean? Or just Even mundane things? Mundane things, I love mundane things. I, as I say, I'm never bored. I never have a moment of boredom. I'm one of those strange people. I can't remember the last time in my whole life I was ever bored, not even as a kid. I don't know.

Jennifer Logue:

That's awesome. I was actually just taking the laundry out earlier today and I was thinking to myself you know, there's only one person in the world who could take laundry out like I do, like in this way, like another character would take it out differently because they're thinking of different things, they're in a different situation, different habits, anyway.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, I got some preparing taxes and doing money stuff or bookie. That is boring to me. I hate that stuff. I'd rather do just about anything in the world or filling out forms. There's probably nothing I hate worse than that, so yeah.

Jennifer Logue:

So active things Totally feel you on that, yes.

Tony Savant:

Active in life I can sit on the couch and watch college football all day and never be bored, yeah.

Jennifer Logue:

Really, I didn't realize you were such a football fan.

Tony Savant:

Oh yeah, huge, huge sports fan. Yeah, huge sports fan.

Jennifer Logue:

Cool, I learned something new already. Look at that. So, on creative space, I'd like to go back to the very beginning of a person's life. What did you grow up and who were your earliest inspirations?

Tony Savant:

Well, I was born in Lebanon, pennsylvania. When I was, I moved around a little bit. Finally, where I mainly is in the Pottstown area, grew up in Glenmore and went to O&J Roberts High School in the Pottstown area, so that's where I grew up mostly. Then, yeah, went to Penn State, went to college there at Penn State and we can go back and talk about that. I don't know if that's what you oh, that's interesting yeah. But I'm a Pennsylvania person, born and bred here in Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Logue:

Do you remember your first creative outlet?

Tony Savant:

Was it always theater or God, my first creative outlet, I think, was just playing in my when I was young. You didn't have computers and you didn't have anything fancy, so I think there's something to be said for that. Nowadays, everything is given to you and it's very easy to be creative or play with creative things. I know I'm going to make myself sound like an old fart, but going outside and playing on a dirt mound with little sticks and rocks and that was creativity. Or having to go out in the woods and spend all day long just playing with your brothers, with your friends, making up games and playing games. We did it from morning till night all the time. But we were in school and I wasn't playing sports. We were making up games and playing games. Or you were in your bedroom and playing with toys and playing games and that was the creativity. But you yourself had to be inventive and creative to come up with things to do. When your parents said get outside, well, actually my parents never had to say get outside, because we're always outside. We were always making up games and playing games. That was, I think, the first thing. Then, yeah, I came to theater and acting and that kind of creativity way later in my life. I mean, yeah, it was I think the first creative thing I did. I was in like third grade and I played one of the Beatles. We did to do some kind of musical thing, a talent thing at our school. You just got cast in. I don't remember what the situation was, but I remember singing you know I want to hold your hand and pretending to play a guitar. We were one of the Beatles, four of us were one of the Beatles and that was probably the first creative thing I did. Then I played the Tin Woodsman in the Wizard of Oz when I was in fifth grade. But again, you were just forced to do these things. It wasn't by my choice. It wasn't until I was like a junior in high school that I started actually doing plays, and by choice, and auditioning for things. Even that I was sort of coerced into it. Initially I didn't really want to do it. I had no desire to be an actor until later in my high school maybe early, you know when I was deciding to go to college. Wow. Other than that, I did not think I was going to go into anything artistic or creative. To tell you the truth, Wow, okay.

Jennifer Logue:

So what was that thing that inspired you to pursue acting as a career? Oh, boy.

Tony Savant:

I mean, I'll try to tell it quickly. It was a strange thing because I thought I was going to be a lawyer. Oh, my gosh, I always wanted to be a lawyer. I like to argue and I like to debate, and I've thought you know, but I think honestly, I think it was watching lawyers on TV and movies that made me want to be a lawyer, right? So I was on a plane for the first time in my life. I was flying home from our senior class trip. It was a great senior class trip. Went to Orlando, florida, disneyland for a week and I'm flying home and it was a bummer because I was like the only person in our class that got seated with someone who wasn't in our school. Right, everyone sit with their friends. I had to sit with some old guy, you know, on the way home from Orlando and this guy started talking to me and he's asked me you know why was doing a senior class trip? Oh, so where are you going to college? I'm going to Penn State. What are you going to take? I said I'm going to take criminal justice and pre-law, because I'm going to, I want to be a lawyer. And he said don't do it, kid, don't do it. I'm a lawyer. And he spent the next hour on the plane desperately trying to talk me out of being a lawyer. Wow, well, it's saying it wasn't all what it's cracked up to be. It's boring, most of it's boring. It's not what you see on TV, all these things. And he was a frustrated lawyer. I guess, hey, you're a lawyer and I don't know. It's something sunk in because I went. I was starting summer session even before I graduated from high school going to. Penn State summer session. I'm going to up there and we went to the Shields building and you go in and you meet a guidance counselor and then you choose your classes and for some reason I chose all theater classes, like theater 101 and film study. And I walked out of there and my parents looked at my what I was taking for the summer a couple of things like astronomy 101 or something like that. But I got theater, it's all this theater stuff. And I said I think I just decided to be a theater major. I just sprang it on my parents, it kind of just got sprung on me In there and I was looking at all these courses and the guys telling me all these pre law courses I got to take, and then he started saying electives and he says theater. I said well, let's hold on. What about that theater stuff? And I became a theater major, just like that. It was literally like a split second decision, sitting in a guidance office right before I chose my classes and it wasn't well thought out, it was not practical, it was dumb, it was dumb, it was not, it was just a moment of madness.

Jennifer Logue:

But you follow that intuition, you just followed that.

Tony Savant:

I guess it was. I guess it was. I realized, and I think it was that guy's head in my voice saying don't do it, kid, and part of his thing about arguing not to be a lawyer. I won't like it. He said you got to do something you love. I've spent the last 25 years in my life doing something I hate because if I had to go back and do it again, I'd do something else that I really love. I don't care. I make a lot of money. It's not about money. It goes in the end. You're not going to care, you can't. It goes. I can't even begin to spend all my money or know what to spend it on, but I'm miserable. It's not worth it. And he said do something, you love the rest of your life. I said, whole cliche, do something, you love the rest of your life and you never have to work a day in your life. And I'm like, what, what do I think I just love doing. Well, damn, I love doing plays, I love acting, I love creating. I really just love telling stories. And there's something I always love telling stories Even when I was doing it with little army men on a dirt mound, I was telling stories. Even back then. You're creating stories and you're outside playing in the woods, you're really improvising stories and I didn't realize that's what I really love to do.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, and it is a job. Clearly, you've made a career for yourself, a very amazing career for yourself, doing what you love, and you're an inspiration to so many of us out here, so that's cool. I had no idea I was not expecting that answer.

Tony Savant:

You weren't yeah.

Jennifer Logue:

And a friend of mine, shavanta. He's an actor. He was in law school.

Tony Savant:

Oh, really, and he quit.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, he left law to pursue acting full time. We met in New York a long time ago. We'll chat offline about him.

Tony Savant:

Ironically, over the years I've had so many lawyers come to my classes and say they want to be an actor. They've always wanted to be an actor, but they pursued law and I went oh wow, it's the opposite for me. I'd love to play a lawyer. That would be fun. I've never. No, I got to play a lawyer once in a play called the Baby Dance by Jane Anderson. That's the only lawyer I've ever gotten to play, but otherwise I'd love to play a lawyer.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh my gosh.

Tony Savant:

Yeah.

Jennifer Logue:

Maybe write a new play.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, but I don't want to have to do all their work.

Jennifer Logue:

Play a lawyer, the research and all that stuff, so wow. So, apart from Penn State, what steps did you take to become an actor? You obviously went to school.

Tony Savant:

What steps did I take to become an actor? What steps did I take? Well, again, the first step I took was not a good or practical one. It would not be what I would advise other actors to do. I went to college and knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have gone to college. Or if I went to college and maybe I needed to because I needed to grow up on the tour more I would have chosen a different course of study at college. But that was the first steps I took, but the first really important steps I took. I guess you could say maybe college led me to this, because you go to college. You were theater major, you do all that theater stuff. I always kind of knew I wasn't learning what I wanted to be learning. I don't know why. I had an intuition I was not learning the right stuff. The actors and the things I admired was not in line with my acting teachers at Penn State. They admired other actors I did not like. They liked the old English actors, olivier's and stuff like that. You know I was talented and a real artist, but not. You know, I like the Pacino's and the Brando's and all that stuff. So I did not. That wasn't a good experience for me, so I wouldn't tell people to do that. But while getting, and then I was urged to go get an MFA. That's what you were always told to do after four years of regular college go get your MFA Right. So I did that. I listened to my guidance counselors, I went and did that. So it was doing my MFA, my master's thesis on the group theater that I stumbled upon Sanford Meisner. All the years I had never heard of Sanford Meisner. Not a single teacher at Penn State or at Long Beach State ever mentioned Sanford Meisner's name. Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, hardly ever talked about ever. Even the group theater not that much. But that was a godsend. I stumbled upon this little video, produced, made by Sidney Pollack, american Masters, on the theater's best kept secret, a video that was on PBS on Sanford Meisner. And then it's the minute I saw that it all made sense, like all these years of uncertainty and not really knowing what I'm doing and feeling directionless and not learning anything. And then in like that, I watched this video and saw Sanford Meisner and his approach and went that's it, that's what I'm missing that's it. So would have I found that had I not gone to college? I think I would have, but maybe I would have found it earlier and that would have been nicer. Instead, I found it when I was 24 years old. And then I found Playhouse West, because I couldn't get into Sandy's class. He had just interviewed with people. So the most important step that ever happened to me was finding Sanford Meisner and then Playhouse West and Robert Carnegie. That was the most important turning point in my life. I was 24, yeah.

Jennifer Logue:

What do you think are the greatest lessons you learned from Playhouse West in those early years when you were a student?

Tony Savant:

I mean, first off, just integrity of the work and respect for the work. I mean I always and I was an athlete all my life and you were always taught to respect what you do, respect your work, respect yourself, respect your teammates, respect the greater goal of the team and apply yourself with integrity. I had great teachers early on in that way in high school and coaches. I had great coaches all my life, and my father too, just that way. So yeah, from Bob Carnegie, it was right off the bat. I mean you were taught to respect your craft. You were never gonna show up late, you were never gonna show up unprepared, you were gonna work your you know what off, and just that was the biggest thing. Just it wasn't so much the artistic things that I learned. That was great too, but it was if you're gonna do this, you do this the right way to do it and that's the right way to do it Like you're gonna become the type of person that everyone would be dying to work, and that sort of became my lifelong mantra after that. I mean I think I did sort of coin that phrase myself to become the kind of actor everybody's dying to work with, and that's what I decided I wanted to be early on, like I'm gonna be whatever, whatever I'm gonna do in this business, I'm gonna be the kind of person other people will wanna work with. You know, whether it be an actor, whether it be as a director, whether whatever job I end up doing, or as a teacher, or as a classmate. I wanted to be the best scene partner, the best classmate, like I didn't want anybody ever to be able to say anything other than I'm dying to work with Tony again, like the working with Tony was the best experience. That was it, and I learned that from Playhouse West. I learned that from Robert Carnegie.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, and that's something that I definitely walked away from studying with you for the time that I did like just learning how to be a better team player, learning just how to be a better human, like to be more disciplined with things that I'm involved in, and all of that, and it's like that's Because if you latch onto that philosophy, it then bleeds out into every aspect of your life.

Tony Savant:

You know, I've then since, you know, as I got older and matured, I started realizing well, that applies to being a neighbor or a renter. If I rent a place, if I rent an apartment, I always told the person, the landlord I'm gonna be your best tenant, I'm gonna be the best tenant you've ever had. I'm gonna be the best neighbor. I wanna be the best dad. I wanna be the best father. I mean, of course, you fall short in so many ways, but you're always trying to be the best at whatever you do, the best you can be at what you do, including as a teacher. I don't want anybody to ever say someone's a better teacher than Tony. I know it sounds like Not possible, but I want everybody to go. Wow, yeah, I know not the general people, I'm sure that don't like me or won't complain about their time at Plows West, but my goal was always I wanna be the best I could possibly be at what I do for other people. Like I want other people to go. He's the greatest neighbor, right, I love living across the street from Tony or beside Tony. He's the greatest neighbor.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes.

Tony Savant:

Every time I go out to cut my grass, I want to cut my grass better than the last time I cut my grass.

Jennifer Logue:

Like holding yourself to that higher standard.

Tony Savant:

Yeah and again that's what I got from Plows West. Like, every time you come to class, you're competing with yourself, you're not competing with anybody else. But if I prepare for class today not as well as I prepared for class yesterday, then I'm failing myself. No, I'm gonna always try to do a better preparation, better activity, whatever. And of course, you don't always do it. You fail. You fail a great deal, especially early on. You fail a great deal but not because you didn't try. You put the effort in, you took the time, whatever time it took, and then if you failed, you failed and you learned from it. But you're always trying to do your best and better than you did yesterday. That's what I got my philosophy Every day, you either are getting a little better or a little worse.

Jennifer Logue:

Or a little worse, and totally I'm trying to always get better.

Tony Savant:

If I'm not trying to cut my grass better than I did last week, then what am I doing? Am I getting worse at it?

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, no, I'm gonna be better at it. You wanna be better at it. And I was reminded of that quote of yours today because I didn't do my vocal warm-ups because of my cold. And then I was like, every day you either get a little better or a little worse. And I was like, oh my God, that's me today.

Tony Savant:

Oh, yeah, yeah, we're also human. Yeah, I did not do my vocal warm-up today. I usually do one every day.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, those helped too. And studying voice with you also was a game-changer for me, because I wasn't even saying my name right, I wasn't pronouncing the GUE, oh, loge.

Tony Savant:

I wasn't pronouncing the guh Loge.

Jennifer Logue:

Yep.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, no.

Jennifer Logue:

Amazing.

Tony Savant:

Guh, you want loge Guh. Yeah, now I do Playhouse West.

Jennifer Logue:

Now I can actually say my name. It's a big win. So how did you get your start teaching at Playhouse West? Oh, boy.

Tony Savant:

Well, I was the first person at Robert Carnegie, the first student at Robert Carnegie ever asked to teach me, and this other person, elizabeth Jager Now it's Elizabeth Ryde out, but I just. It began with a rehearsal class. Bob Carnegie started this sort of afternoon rehearsal class after Sandy Meiser moved his classes to another studio up the street. We were just growing so much at Playhouse West and he couldn't accommodate all of Sandy's classes at our studio, so it left Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons from 3.30 to 6.30 kind of free, and Bob said, well, let's use this studio as a place for students to be able to come in and just rehearse the studio and needed a couple of people to run the class. And he just thought I had the right temperament for it, I guess. But then he started sending me students that I don't think he wanted in his classes, but people who really are trying to talk their way into the school during the interviews, right, but he didn't want them in his class. He maybe thought there was something deficient about them or something about them, you know, they had a bad accent or something like that. So he said, hey, you want to start working with some students as a teacher? And I said sure. So some of the people in the class were just there to rehearse. And then you had a couple of students who were there to try to teach from day one, right? And Bob said well, why don't you come sit, start sitting in on my classes so you can learn how to teach people how to teach. So I started yes, every chance I got I went and sat in on one of Bob's classes or Jeff Goldblum's classes and I was trying to learn how to teach, and then I would go into my class and work with these few people. We called them like the sweat hogs, like from Welcome Back Potter, all the people, no one else, you know, the people that couldn't get into the normal classes. And then I guess word got back to Bob that I was doing really well with these students, like they were learning and people were going hey, these people are pretty good in Tony's classes. And then Bob came in one day and he kind of sat on the side and watched me work with some of these people and I think he thought I was doing okay and I also sat in his classes all the time and I'm peppering him with questions all the time and he's relaying everything that Sandy Meisner was telling him and I was just, it was just great, a great moment, you know great time in my life, artistically, creatively, anyway. And then you know, I don't want to name names but at one point Bob called me up at 11 o'clock at night on a Tuesday night and to get a call, and that was before call, waiting. But you know, you answer 11 o'clock at night. I'm going to bed, phone rings it's Bob Carnegie on the line. Holy crap, I thought I did something wrong. I thought he's kicking me out of school. No, bob had just fired an associate teacher at the school and this was like January of 1990 or something like that, and he said I need you to show up tomorrow morning at he goes. Can you show up tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock and teach the intermediate class that I used to do with this other teacher, team teacher? I said, I guess. So I have a temp job. And he said can you get out of it? I said yeah, yeah. So I got out of the temp job and I went to teach and suddenly I'm teaching like two team classes with Bob and then he just kept giving me more and that's how I became a teacher at the school and it was January of 1990. I'd just been at the school a little bit over two years. I never dreamt of being a teacher, never wanted to be a teacher, and the way I looked at it was even at that time I started veering more away from a career and acting more toward. I think I knew I wanted to be a director, knowing that Sidney Pollock had trained with Sandy Meisner and then taught at the neighbor playhouse as an assistant teacher with Sandy Meisner team, taught with Sandy for six years before parlaying that and being a director, I thought in my genius head I'm going to do this a couple of years, I'm going to become a better director and then I'll be done with teaching. The rest of my life I'm going to be a director and that's it. I was not going to do it for more than a couple of years, maybe five. Well, didn't pan out that way. I ended up actually falling in love with it and realizing that I think I had a talent for it that I didn't know I had. I think you're sort of obligated in life to pursue the things that you are talented, or at least people think you're talented at, and see where that takes you. I still didn't think I'd be doing it for 34 years. I still thought I'd just do it for five or six years and then be done with it.

Jennifer Logue:

You would say something in class related to acting, but I took it for life too. Do what you're made to do.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, I kind of think I was made to do this in some ways. Much to my chagrin, at times I thought there were times when I've gone but I could have done this or I could have done that, but I ended up being a teacher. But everything, I think happens for a reason and you end up doing what you're made to do. I think I was made to do this.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, I think we all have that as creatives the path is never like the straightforward and just following intuition, not linear. No, and some people Like a creek, yeah, and going with the flow. I'm trying to be better with going with the flow in my own life too, there were times when I fought it.

Tony Savant:

There were a couple of years where I really fought against it and tried to convince myself. I didn't want to do it. I tried to find a way out. My wife could tell you there were times I was very disenchanted with it and really, really tried to get out of it, but then something would happen. I would go, yeah, but I got to go teach and then after a while you stopped fighting it and you just go, yeah, I think this is what I'm meant to do, and so, and then I was still. The great thing about being a teacher at Playhouse West was I could always continue to pursue all the other creative things I wanted to do. I directed 70-some over 75 plays over the years at Playhouse West between LA and Philadelphia. I was still able to make some movies whenever I want to make movies. So it's not like I and I still write. I still do all the things I want to do. I still act whenever I want to act. So you know, I guess it turns out okay.

Jennifer Logue:

You're fulfilled at all points of your journey. So many creatives may have a job that they're not super passionate about to pay the bills, to be able to do the things they want to do but you're able to do it. It's all in your universe.

Tony Savant:

I'm very lucky. I'm very lucky that I actually do get to pay my bills and do something I really, really love, and if I was a billionaire or something like that, I wouldn't even pay my bills for that. I just still do it. You still do it.

Jennifer Logue:

That's when you know you love it. That's so cool. Do you have a favorite memory from LA during your time as a teacher?

Tony Savant:

Favorite memory from LA. My God, it's almost too many. It's almost too many Favorite memory of LA. I wanted to distill it down to one, but I mean, I guess, the things that I remember most from LA. Here's what I remember most. First off, it's crazy to think of all the talented people I was in in class with over the years. Right, I feel so blessed and so privileged to have gotten to work with, not just as a teacher but or a director but as an actor, so many great, great, great actors over the years. I mean class was first off. I mean I never wanted to miss class anyway and I never missed class much, but I never missed class. But you didn't want to miss class Not because of your work. You never wanted, I never wanted to miss class and I think the other people in our class felt the same way, because you couldn't wait to see what your classmates were going to do that night. And you went to class not just to work for yourself. You went to class to watch your classmates work and be inspired by them, because there were so many good, good people. And then, all the time I spent on stage, there was a 10 year span where I was on stage in any number of plays running in Repertory. For 10 years straight I was on stage probably 40 to 45 weeks out of the year, some years maybe 50 weeks. I mean I was on stage that much, running sometimes four and five plays at a time in Repertory. Some of those plays I ran for years and, like you can't, that's priceless, you cannot underestimate the value of that. Like I look back at that time and go that was the best time of my life, creatively, artistically, and never be surpassed. And then all the great people I got to work with the Mark Pellegrinos and the Christine Kavanaugh's and all the so many great people I got to work with in those plays Hands down, though, I've got to say the most important thing personally other than getting married and having children, but artistically, the most important thing I ever did in my life and the greatest achievement in my life is welcome home, soldier. Hands down, I mean that play changed lives, that play saved lives. I'll never, ever, in my lifetime, ever do anything more important than that. I can say that with great, I think, certainty. You didn't know it when you first started doing it, but it ended up. It took up 25 years of my life. That was the most meaningful thing that ever happened to me, artistically.

Jennifer Logue:

When did you first get that nugget of an idea to write welcome home soldier?

Tony Savant:

Bob Carnegie. Bob Carnegie, we were about ready to go on our Christmas break and it looked like it was the first golf war was heating up. We weren't in the war yet but we were sending all kinds of troops over to. It was when Iraq invaded wait right. And all signs were pointing toward this that we're gonna be an invasion of Kuwait and we're gonna go to war. And you know Hollywood, especially Hollywood actors very impressionable they're all a lot of the Hollywood actors were going out on the protest lines and stuff like that. They were gonna start protesting this upcoming war. And Bob Carnegie, who had didn't serve in Vietnam but was a Vietnam era age, he remembers the people in his hometown of Virginia coming home and he remembered the way they were treated. He also remembered the effects that the protesters had on the soldiers themselves, who had no choice, where they were sent and what war they fought in. So he gave me this little book called called Homecoming, by Bob Green and he said the way we do these little improvisations toward with Spoon Rivers, with cops and nom and stuff like that. He said maybe you can do something, maybe you can do something with these stories in this book and we'll do a night at the school We'll put on a little night where you guys do some speeches from this book talking about the effects that the protesters had on the soldiers when they were coming home from Vietnam. And maybe it'll affect one of our students and they'll decide not to go out and protest these soldiers when they come home or God forbid, spit on them or something like that. I read this book and it opened up my mind and it made me start to do research and with another guy named Michael Pettigrove and Derek Rydell first, I said we're doing more than just a couple of speeches. We're not just doing what we do. We're not. no, no, I see a play and I pitched them up, this play, and I saw the way we could take these stories and put them in a bigger circumstance. And then we started doing research and going to vet centers and doing things and I got other stories and we put together this play Welcome Home, soldier that I directed and cast and we started working on it over. I think we had sort of an outline of it by January of 1991. Then we started rehearsing it and the Gulf War came and lasted about 72 hours and ruined our play in terms of it came and went so fast, we won so quickly. We never got a chance to put on our play yet and we were just about ready to put it on. I told Bob Carnegie man, we worked on this thing so hard. He knew we were working on it, working on it. I said, well, can we just put it on for the school, the students of the school, one night, just let us do our little play. And he said, sure, let's do it. We were gonna do it like on a Saturday night or afternoon or I think the first time we did it actually was just a Wednesday night. We took our class we had class on Wednesday nights and he just said Lillian, we'll do it on a Wednesday night. So instead of class that night, we did it. And there was one veteran there, one of the students at the school that were in. The students of the school were invited to come and her husband was a Vietnam veteran. She was an older student and her husband was a Vietnam veteran. He was the only veteran in the audience and it shook him to the core. He watched it and he went up to Robert Carnegie afterward and said you can only do this once. He said everybody who served in Vietnam needs to see this play. He goes. It made me feel things I didn't wanna feel, but it also made me feel things I never thought I could ever feel again. And he said you have to do this and let other veterans see it. And then Bob, he then worked with me and we, bob and I re-wrote the play not significantly, but Bob made major contributions to it and that's why he is a co-author with me and we refashioned it and then opened it in June of that year, re-opened it in June and on that night there was one veteran in the audience, a guy named RC Cook, and he sat in the front row and he was emotional beyond belief and blown away and afterwards couldn't stop talking to us, could not stop talking to us, did not wanna go home, did not wanna leave. He was actually a person at the VA at the moment. He was brought because he was in AA with one of the actors. At our school One of the students went to AA with this guy, told him about the play he comes to play. He had to be practically dragged there. He didn't wanna see it. He, everything that ever depicted Vietnam veterans, always depicted them in such a negative way. He didn't wanna come. And then he left with an arm, a stack of about 200 flyers that night. That was his arm and he was determined to get not just veterans but everybody in the world to come and see this play. And he became like our one man advertising campaign and he went out and, before you know, we did it every week, every single Saturday night. We did it for the first year or so. It took the first couple of years and veterans one day started coming and spreading the word flocking it's you know. Within a couple of months the whole audience was filled with veterans. Every single time we did the play and guys were coming back over and over and over seeing it dozens of times. They're seeing it. Some guys came and saw it for years. Some guys saw over a hundred performances. Wow, over the years and death. Anyway, I just I could talk about that play for a week and do a whole podcast.

Jennifer Logue:

We. It's so powerful, Like at all the stories I could tell about that why it's the most important thing.

Tony Savant:

I mean, I know that it literally, literally saved many lives and just changed a lot of lives. And when a piece of art can do that, because all artists deep in your heart want to produce at least one thing of lasting value and importance, and you're lucky if you get to. Most artists don't get to. I'm so blessed. Welcome home soldier came into my life. If I never do another important thing in my life, it doesn't matter, cause that was really important.

Jennifer Logue:

Do you think you'll put it on again in Philadelphia? I know we did it in 2019.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, I've done three productions in the Philly area. You know, every time I finish it I say I'm never going to do it again, because I won't ever do it again, unless I think I can do it better than the last time I did. I, it would kill me to put it on and it would not surpass the last one. I do think the one in 2019 is the best version of the play was ever done.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, oh, that's beautiful.

Tony Savant:

We ran it for a full month. I feel lucky to have seen it and if I felt like I had the cast that could do it better then I would, then I would consider doing it Because it is, you know, it has taken up, you know, a lot of years of my life 25 plus years now. I started in 1991.

Jennifer Logue:

Wow.

Tony Savant:

And 2019, you know, that's 28 years of my life, really Wow. I was involved with it, but for the first 23 years straight you know that's incredible the longest running drama I too, Herb. Well, for the last 15 years. At one point it became the longest running consecutive drama in the country and had that distinction for about 15 plus years.

Jennifer Logue:

Wow.

Tony Savant:

The articles written about it from all over the country, all over the world. People came and saw it. From all over the country. People would fly all over the country to see it. We've had a lot of very, very special people come and see. It Also got the most important endorsement of my life when Sandy Meiser came to sell it twice and Sandy was really old and was tough for him to sit through a play and a two and a half hour play, you know and Sandy, after seeing it, said not since Waiting for Lefty has he seen theater with that kind of emotional kick to it. And that's a big compliment coming from Sandy, who directed Waiting for Lefty and that was the signature play of the group theater. So that you know what else can I do. I don't need anything else. I don't need anything else.

Jennifer Logue:

No, that's it. Wow, that is so cool. Oh my gosh.

Tony Savant:

And that was the first time you saw it and he actually came back and saw it again. I'm like it's crazy, I saw it a second time, oh my gosh.

Jennifer Logue:

So this is creative space and I love asking this question of everyone, because everyone has a different perspective on it. But, tony, what is your definition of creativity?

Tony Savant:

Creativity. Well, I think there's two kinds of creativity. There's really two kinds of creativity. The first kind of creativity is that kind of creativity that you, where you use your you know your mind and your imagination, your inventiveness, your, your, your ingenuity to think up and Envision something that previously did not exist. Right, it's something original that is then Materialized in some form, right, like a form of art. Right, that's all that note that you wrote. You know, you know our artists of all kinds. This, this is what Creativity is for most artists and many people. Actually, not just works of art, I think you know. Obviously, plays and music, things like that are obvious works of art and that were thing. But look what if? What about inventors? Oh, for sure inventors who have to envision or see something that never existed before and imagine it happening, and then I'm gonna do it. Or even a even a business person who has a business model for something that has never been done before, and and they make it happen. Right, that's. But first you have to think it up, you have to envision it. So it's not just creative people, I think. I think this kind of creativity is common among everybody. The difference is it's like what's not common is when the new creation is, is special in some kind of way, like it takes root in the hearts and minds of people, and that's, you know, a film or a play, or a work of art or a piece of music, or even a business model. You know Apple.

Jennifer Logue:

Right.

Tony Savant:

I mean when it, when it, when it becomes important to people, then then then that kind of creativity is special. And then there's a second kind of creativity, and this kind of creativity is it's really the ability to use your imagination and intuition, inventiveness, to make use of something that already exists, what actually exists in a moment, you know, in a unique and unconventional and creative and imaginative way. In other words, is what we do as actors? Right, but we're acting and we're able to improvise off of a moment, make use of what exists in that moment and you know what your partners do, or what your partners give you, or how you're feeling on that, that one take or that one night in the theater or in class, and you're able to make use of a moment that exists in an imaginative or inventive, creative, intuitive way. And I think the best actors are the ones that you know, the ones that are exceptionally talented, are the ones that are smart and intuitive and they're able to make use of what exists in a moment, always within the parameters of the given circumstances, in a way that helps to move the story forward, helps to reveal their character, helps to, you know, is thematically cohesive, in other words, it doesn't violate any of the tenants of the, of the greater story that's being told and that creativity On a, you know, on a high level, is more rare than the first kind of creativity and is and is invaluable. They're both invaluable, oh yeah. But you know you need. You need Tennessee Williams to invent, you know, street car name desire. But then you need a Brando to take street car name desire and Elevate it, because he's such an intuitive, inventive creator, greatly makes creative use of of a moment in time that that moment that'll never exist, ever before or ever again, and having a wholly original, take on it and feeling about it and Say something with it. And I think teaching and directing is creative in that second way and it's one of the ways it sort of fuels me, you know, because you can't work with this. You know we're teaching a certain approach and we've got steps that were taken actors through, but every actor is different and you have to find creative and inventive and unique ways to teach every actor To do the same thing. Right, we all want to get them the same place, but Every actor is different. You can't get them at the same place the same way every actor. So teaching is creative that way. Directing is creative that way how to use a moment and in a way that is inventive and intuitive for that actor at that moment to help them Get somewhere you need them to get to, and so that's so teaching and it's creative in that way. But those are the two kinds that's creativity to me.

Jennifer Logue:

I never thought about that second kind of creativity, no one's ever talked about it. But now that you say it I'm like, wow, that is so true and it's, it's so hard.

Tony Savant:

It's the most it's so hard, most difficult, unique, kind, and it really is, you know it's. It's the kind that the most skilled and talented people do the do do best, you know, hmm, it's. I Think a lot of people can be creative in the first way, always in a special way, that's true, but fewer people are creative in a special way. The second kind of creativity, and that's what you know, the most talented people Are.

Jennifer Logue:

That, you know they're able to be so present.

Tony Savant:

Yes.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, that presence.

Tony Savant:

And that's that's work, that's that's talent. You know and you can. You can teach fundamentals and Certainly, being great at fundamentals and knowing your job and being so well-practiced at it and confident in it Certainly helps that second type of creativity. But some of it is stuff that can never be taught. It's, it's intuition, it's talent, and so it's an intangible thing. Certainly, more you know, the more educated you are, the more you practice, the more Think, the more the say experience you become, you get better at it. You certainly get better at it. And it's what we're trying to teach people at the school. You know.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, yes, repetition is a mother of skill even in a repetition exercise.

Tony Savant:

You're trying to be creative. I mean intuitively creative. How, how? How I can make use of what you give me in that moment, not just my ability to listen and respond, but can I respond in a unique and inventive, creative, personal way that expresses me in A way that no one else could express. That's creativity and Happens so fast the way I do at this moment. It's me, it's unique to me, it's original to me. That's creativity.

Jennifer Logue:

So, so interesting. Oh my gosh. That's why I have a podcast about this. It's. It fascinates me and no one's ever said that before. No, not this kind. No, not the second type of creativity. Nope, it's more of the, you know, more imagination, like solving problems, problem solving there's an interesting definition.

Tony Savant:

Yes, you know we have to. How do we get to the moon?

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, and you know that's creativity, yeah.

Tony Savant:

That's, that's creativity, that's imagination and creativity that is beyond my comprehension, you know.

Jennifer Logue:

This one, engineers said creativity is Input, inspiration, output Art or output project.

Tony Savant:

I like that little Equation, he came up with to be able to be materialized in some form. You can think up all kinds of things. I mean, I have a million ideas, but they don't always end up in something Right that's actually another question I have a little later on, but I'm gonna ask it now.

Jennifer Logue:

Okay, how do you decide on an idea when you have a lot of ideas?

Tony Savant:

Like how do you know an idea person?

Jennifer Logue:

So how do you?

Tony Savant:

I, I'm not quick Like I'm a patient person when it comes to. It's why I don't make a lot of films. You know I'll sit on ideas for years. I will sit on ideas for a long time. Sometimes I get spurred on idea and comes out, but I I kind of have to sit on things and wait until it chooses me, like it. Just it nags and nags and nags and won't let you go. And Then it then it becomes for me, that's just for me. Other people, like you know, when I listened to, was listening to this podcast with Bernie toppen who wrote, was Elton John's partner all these years and he would come up with these basically lyrics that are basically poems, right, mm-hmm? And when you could give them to Elton John and Elton John would put him on the piano and there'd be no music behind it, it was just a bunch of words and Elton John would start playing a song and Singing the song and it next thing, you know, you have your song or you have crocodile rock. Now how do you, how do you take the lyrics of crocodile rock? You sit down at a piano and go, I mean, and then it next thing you know, five minutes later, it's a song, a song that becomes a number one hit. I can't, I'm not like that. That's. That's a special kind of genius and that's not me. Me, it has to. It has to, I Think, kind of simmer for a long time until Until, at some point, it just nags you so much and then you can't let it go, and then that becomes the one that rises to the top, because I have loads of ideas. I'm constantly writing down ideas. I have papers on my desk everywhere Ideas, ideas, ideas, ideas. And I'll pick one up. I haven't read. I read that four months ago and go is there something there? I don't know, I don't know yet. Put it back down. Mm-hmm, one of them eventually just won't leave you. That's in. That's my way of doing it. I don't know. If that's how it is, how is it for you? What? How does it happen for you?

Jennifer Logue:

I'm actually the nagging person to. Podcast it's. It's so funny you say that um the podcast that I've been thinking about doing this podcast since 2020 and I didn't start until 2022.

Tony Savant:

Are you inspired by other podcasts or you just do what did it for?

Jennifer Logue:

you. Well, I had a web I, I had my own publication for a few years called rock on Philly, and when I was doing that people would say, oh, jen, and we had a little Short-lived cable television show and a lot of people were like, oh, you should have a podcast, and podcasts weren't really big back then. But you know, the nugget was in my mind you have a great voice, you know It'll be interesting to see this in podcast form. I never went through with it. I didn't want to add on to the pile of everything. And and then, when the pandemic hit, I had the idea for the podcast too and I wanted to be about creativity because rock on Philly had since, you know I don't, that chapter ends it in my life. But then I hesitated again because I was like, oh, but you know I'm, I'm an artist, like I. I need to focus on making art. Like a podcast it's too journalismy, like I don't want to. So I kept, you know, putting it off, putting it off. Then I got the house and I was trying to figure out okay, I need my creative project now and the pot, this idea for the podcast. It wouldn't leave me alone and I finally said you know what? I'm just gonna do it Like once I have a system, for it won't be too crazy and it's ended up Helping me be a better artist, tony.

Tony Savant:

I bet. I bet because you're a constant state of creativity, right and and and, absorbing other people's creativity. So it's it's constantly feeds you, feeds your artistic soul.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, and it made me aware of like just you know ways I need to level up as an artist. Like Insecurities that we all have, I'm getting stuck as a songwriter, not writing for a long time. Because a podcast is so personal, you inevitably bring some of yourself into it, unlike being a journalist, like I was. I'd interview someone on the phone and I wasn't in it. I wasn't in the story, I was just. You know, it was their story and I, but with this I reveal myself too bad.

Tony Savant:

Journalism is when you make it about you. Yeah, yeah, but, but uh, yeah. Podcasts I love. I'm obsessed with podcasts. I up until two years ago I never listened to one in my entire life and now I'm obsessed with them. I have I just I listen to them constantly, driving favorite hour drive to work hour back, and that's. I'm on podcasts all the time.

Jennifer Logue:

A lot of. Do you have some favorites?

Tony Savant:

Yeah, I like, I like smart lists. Uh, I like Rob Lowe's. Literally with Rob Lowe, um, there's one that Dana Carvey, david Spade, that's funny as heck. Uh, I mean, there's a whole bunch of them. There's writers that do them Um, there's some directors that do them. Yeah, yeah, different, different ones that I once in a while listen to. Conan O'Brien's kind of makes it about him too much. Um but I like. I like the podcast where they let Like Rob. I love Rob Lowe, so do you ever listen to him?

Jennifer Logue:

I'm gonna check out literally.

Tony Savant:

He's a really good interviewer and he really that's. I mean, he does make it about him too at times, but it's Rob Lowe. We want to know about Rob, I want to know so, so it's really interesting, um, but I really like that one, um, um. Smart lists is just funny. It's just so funny, but they have great, great, great guests on listen to smart lists.

Jennifer Logue:

I haven't listened to smart lists either.

Tony Savant:

I listen to John Hayes, will, will Arnett and uh, um, geez, the guy from. Uh, oh, my god, can't believe I forgot his name. Um, I'm in a total, total brain spasm here. Um, look, look at it.

Jennifer Logue:

I turned off my phone, Otherwise I would look it up. Fantastic.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, and if, and if he was here and I forgot his name, uh, he would, he would kill me. It's all good, I'll it'll come to me the minute we're done.

Jennifer Logue:

Of course, the way it always does. Yeah, um, cool. So I've seen more podcasts to listen to. They're so great, I mean, um, I listen to, like. I've been listening to Jay Shetty. I like him a lot. I'm really into the mindfulness meditation, um, personal growth podcasts, uh. And then I like listening to gary vayner chuck too. He's like more business, like social media.

Tony Savant:

Uh, really, probably should, because I know nothing about that.

Jennifer Logue:

I'd probably learn a lot yeah you learn a lot from gary vayner chuck. He's very intense. He makes me feel like I'm not doing enough, but he always has great ideas and he tells it like it is. And self-made guy Um, really cool.

Tony Savant:

I don't understand much when it comes to social media. I'm I'm a complete ignorant when it comes to most of it.

Jennifer Logue:

It's okay. It changes so much that, like I haven't got on board the tiktok train and I know I should, but it's just too much, it's too quick for me, I don't know it's too.

Tony Savant:

It's too large, yeah, it just it feels too too like, too much To do. No, it's a lot. It's a lot of work. I'm sure it's a ton of work.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, I feel like a lot of people have teams, you know, to do the social stuff. I'm trying to limit mine to like what is the most necessary and with the podcasting, with the time now I just I'm like the most important thing is doing the podcast.

Tony Savant:

And, and people have told me I should do a podcast, people should. What is it a Blog? I've been told for god for years and years and years. Do a blog, do a blog. I look, I barely, I can. I do my movies of the week and I do my my posts of the week to actors, which typically isn't every week, but, uh, because it's hard to even just come up with them and keep up with them.

Jennifer Logue:

You had a great post today About taking risks and betting on yourself. Yes, I really love that. Do you want to talk about that a little bit, or uh sure?

Tony Savant:

Why not? What do you want? What do you want to talk about?

Jennifer Logue:

I think it's hard sometimes for artists and I I don't mean to bring myself into this, but, like you know, you have a safe you might have like a day job that like keeps you safe. You always have one foot in, one foot out. Yes, and I've met other artists in my life who are Doing the same thing and deep down I know. But if you don't take that leap, if you don't ever bet on yourself fully it's, you're always going to be in the state of limbo you have to.

Tony Savant:

It's the I think it's. The greatest challenge that any actor has to overcome is, first, it's it's self-doubt, right, self doubt, the lure of Of something more practical and stable, something conventional, something convenient. All the inner voices telling you go do something else. This is not gonna happen for you, you're not good enough, you're not gonna make it, you're gonna waste all of these years of your life. Go, just go do something conventional and practical and make money and get to take your two week vacation and get your 401K and you know. And then you've got. So those are all the inner voices that bring all the self doubt. And then there's the outer voices, too, that are just as bad, if not worse. They're the friends and the family with all the great advice here's how to do it even though they never did it. Or the ones that all they can think of is when are you gonna be on TV? Or what did you do? Why are you still in class? Why are you still in class? What? No, why aren't you on TV? Or they're telling you isn't it time to go do something else now? Or what's your plan B? There's all those voices, the inner voices and the outer voices. They're the most destructive things to anything that is extraordinary. Right Like you can't. There's not a single extraordinary accomplishment in the history of the world that did not come with great risk. Somebody took a chance on themselves and took a risk and were able to quiet the inner voice, quiet the outer voice, and said the hell with it, I'm gonna do it anyway. I know it's not practical, I know it's stupid, it's foolish, I probably shouldn't do it, but I'm gonna do it anyway. Everybody who's an actor did it anyway.

Jennifer Logue:

Did it anyway.

Tony Savant:

That's the thing. That's the other thing you asked about LA earlier. One of the great, great privileges of my life is all those years in LA and through my associations at Plouce West was I came in contact with the best people in this industry at every level agents, managers, casting directors, but also just so many legendary actors not just the fact that I've been friends with Jeff Goldblum for 33, 34 years or my good buddy Mark Pellegrino, people like that but I got to privilege and meet so many great people. I worked with Eli Wallach, for God's sakes, for a whole week and Martin Landau and Gene Smart and Danny IA Lo, and I got to get to know people like Sidney Pollack over many years, talk to him off and on over many years, interview the people like Mel Gibson and Gary Marshall and James Kahn and John Landon I mean, I'm dropping names here and sound like-.

Jennifer Logue:

No, it's wonderful, no.

Tony Savant:

Jerky name droppers no.

Jennifer Logue:

And then he took.

Tony Savant:

Like Jeff Goldblum, I got to meet and know Laura Durham, gina Davis, bruno Kirby, and when you hang around I say this because when you hang around great, very accomplished people you realize none of them all, by the way, none of them chose the practical path and when you hear their story, none of them so many of them almost didn't do it. I mean, I got to know Ernest Borgnein really really well because his son, chris, was in my class for five years and I got to know Ernest really well, like he should not have been an actor. Look at Ernest Borgnein what about Ernest Borgnein? And said I should be an actor. He just he did it because he couldn't see himself doing anything else. He tried other things, very menial things, but he thought I just this looks like fun. He took a chance on himself against everybody's best advice, and look at how it turned out. Everybody I've ever met in this business, they took a chance on themselves. They took a risk against all odds. All these extraordinary lives, these people we look up to, these people who create these wonderful movies, these wonderful plays, is all these things that we admire, all the things that everyday ordinary people look up to and admire, yet all of those people would have told these people don't do it, exactly, don't do it. Somebody had to do it right and that's the difference between the people who really, I think, make it in this business and the people who don't is the people who make in this business just they're able to I don't know overcome those voices, because they have them. They have them in their lives. They have the naysayers, they have their own self-doubts, but they did it anyway. There's a certain kind of bravery and courage it takes to be an artist.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes.

Tony Savant:

It is an incredibly courageous thing to say. I'm gonna be a writer, an actor, a songwriter, a musician, a painter, and I have to take a chance on myself and do this totally stupid and practical thing because I love it so much. I can't see myself doing anything else and being happy, and I'd rather be happy and broke and doing something I love than have money and be miserable and doing something I don't choose to do the rest of my life right.

Jennifer Logue:

I know someone needed to hear that listening to this, and I definitely need to hear that tonight.

Tony Savant:

Because you're gonna end up with two things. You're either gonna end up with the pain of disappointment right, or the pain of all the things it takes to be an actor.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah.

Tony Savant:

So what pains do you choose? Well, the one pains a lot more fun. Yes yep, and you could end up. The alternative is you do something that you desperately don't, that you didn't choose for yourself. Wouldn't you rather do the thing that you choose for yourself, rather than the thing that you have to do that someone else chooses for you? Mm so powerful. Also, people end up doing something they don't choose for themselves. Someone else chooses it for them. It's what gets offered to them to make a living right, and don't knock it. We need the people too. Not everyone is meant to be an artist.

Jennifer Logue:

Very true.

Tony Savant:

There's no shame. I always tell people this too when they come into my classes. If my class, if my school can teach you you're not meant for this, you're meant for something else, then I've served a great purpose in your life. Because if you can, if you can't get through our program at our school, you can't. You realize, man, I don't love this enough to be dedicated or make the sacrifices. I don't love it enough, Like I need something practical, I need something more stable. If you learn that, then it's great. It's great. Then go do that other thing. That's what you're then meant to do, right, you're meant to be in business. You're meant to be a mom. You're meant to be a math teacher. You're meant to do something else, and that's fine.

Jennifer Logue:

We have to love the process of what we do. It's not just the results. The results have nothing to do with it. Actually, it's the process.

Tony Savant:

All the people I know, they love the process, yes, in fact, the result. They're not always all that much of a fan yeah, it doesn't matter. I know people who've never seen their movies, never Like their favorite thing was making the movie, but it was such a fun experience, it was such a great experience for them. They don't wanna see the end result because they might not like that and it sours it for them. I know actors who are like that, like they will not see their movies. They don't have to put no problem doing it, but it's the process. They love the process. They love it. They love showing up on a set being part of a team or showing up at the theater and being part of that experience, and they wouldn't trade that for anything in the world and they'd be doing it even if they had to wait tables and do it for free.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes.

Tony Savant:

That's the dirty little secret that every I think 90% of the movie stars maybe not all, but 90% of the movie stars would tell you they'd be doing it even if no one paid them a penny.

Jennifer Logue:

They'd be doing it anyway.

Tony Savant:

They'd find a way to be doing it, some community theater or something They'd be doing it.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, because in them, and it's the process, it's and that's something important that I learned in your class too Like if you don't love the process, then it's something's not for you.

Tony Savant:

I loved the process of solving doors and activities. Yeah, that to me was I could spend hours doing it and it wasn't a drag. And the people who find it a drag, I always think, man, maybe you're not meant for this. We really aren't meant for this. I found it a thrilling puzzle to solve that you fail at most of the time when you first start at it, right, which is why you have to do it a lot, because first start out, you're gonna fail nine or eight or nine times out of 10, right. So you have to do it a lot, you know, and even in the end, you're never gonna bat 1,000. It's not, ever gonna happen, not for anybody. You're still gonna find failure, but the fact that you're always striving to not fail is the prize that's the prize, that's the prize.

Jennifer Logue:

It's the reward in itself.

Tony Savant:

Yeah, it's making the perfect movie. It's writing the perfect song. It can't happen. It won't ever happen, but that's why you sit down to write a song Like this is gonna be meaningful, right.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, and singing Like I do my. I started shooting with a vocal coach again this year and she calls vocal warmups your daily devotional. Yeah, and I seriously like when I wake up. It's the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and it's like it just it's. There's nothing else I wanna be doing.

Tony Savant:

Not a sacrifice, it's a gift. It's a gift. Yeah, I was like that. You know, go into class, I know for some people it seems like a great sacrifice. Go into rehearsal it seems like a sacrifice. It's not a sacrifice, it's so fun. It's a gift you're giving to yourself. Like how do you not wanna rehearse every day? I wanted to rehearse every day, all day. If I could just rehearse all day or read plays or watch movies or you know, think of activity, I could have just done it all day. It was every time you did. It was a blessing, was a gift. It was a gift I gave to myself.

Jennifer Logue:

So it gets in the community to a playhouse. West is incredible, just the friend you know, I Think. So it's nice to have that community, that artistic community, to grow with. So how does one balance being a teacher and an artist? That's a question that I had for you. I.

Tony Savant:

Don't know how to separate them. I think being a teacher is being an artist. That's true If you're, if you're trying to do it in a certain way. Not all teachers are artists. I don't think all actors are artists either. Ah I don't think all Musicians are artists. I don't, because I think you have to have a greater. I think you have to have what? Well, I think, first off, art. I think artists have to have something to say. You have nothing to say, are you really an artist or are you just producing something artistic? Right? Not, and not all, not all artistic creations have to be a work of art, in my opinion. Right, some are just for pure entertainment or aesthetically pleasing and you can enjoy it. You know, it doesn't have to be a work of art, but a work of art Comes from someone who has something that they have to say. They have something they have to express and it matters to them, it's personal to them. So, to me, teaching there's a mission is a bigger mission. I haven't lot to be it when I'm teaching, right, I'm trying to sincerely have some kind of impact on these people's lives. I know, here's the thing about being a teacher and it's a sad thing and I learned this from Sandy Meisner is we are total failures. We think about it. You know, nine out of every ten people who come into our classes are probably not going to Make a living being an actor maybe maybe 49 out of every 50. I don't know, you know. So, man, that's a pretty damn bad batting average, which means we're we're failing 90% of the time. So you, you better have a higher purpose. Right like I'm trying to help, I always tell people my job is to try to help you become the kind of actor that Everybody's dying to work with. And I tell people and if you're gonna be an actor, that better be your mission in life. But it is my mission to try to help you be the best version of yourself. So if you don't end up being an actor, but you end up being a writer, a producer, a casting director, a Husband, a wife, a mom, a dad, you go work in some other capacity. I hope I've had some kind of impact on you where, whatever you do, you're trying to be the best of that that you can be, and then I will have served a purpose in your life and my mission can be somewhat fulfilled, because not everybody is going to become the kind of actor Everybody's dying to work with, but you can become the kind of something else Everybody's dying to work. So that way, to me there is something artful and what that I? What I do, is also create. Like I said, creativity Teaching is to me an incredibly creative art when you're trying to do it at a high level. You can't teach paint by numbers. That's bad teaching. It's the teaching that I first started off with in college. You know, we're teaching out of a book, we're doing these things. There was nothing artful about any of those teachers. They were just bad teachers. Even I knew it then, in my complete state of Ignorance as to what acting was or what it was about. I had no, no clue. But I knew what I was being taught was not it and my, our teachers had no, there was no creativity in what they did. There was no artfulness in what they did. They were just teaching a Paint by numbers thing. Right, you did this a number of weeks. You did this number weeks, you did this and you did a scene. You know and taught you anything. You just, you just, and you got a grade. So I think teaching is very, very artistic. I feel like you're an artist when I am teaching. If I'm teaching well, if I'm not teaching well, I don't feel very artful. I'm human. I'm not always great.

Jennifer Logue:

So it's like being able to get through to a student. There's an art in that, because you can't paint by numbers to like really get a message home to each individual human.

Tony Savant:

And I hate failing students. I hate failing the student. I don't ever want to give up on a student. Right, I try never to give up on a student. Sometimes they give up on themselves or they give up on me, but I try never to give up on a student, so you've done so much in your career, tony, and we barely scratched the surface in the intro.

Jennifer Logue:

I had to condense it quite a bit, um, but what made you decide to move to the east coast with Playhouse West?

Tony Savant:

Oh boy, I'm gonna try to give you the short answer to that the quick, non boring. Make it as less boring as possible. I Always tell people like this if you had asked me in February of 2012, was I ever leaving LA, was I ever gonna Stop teaching at Playhouse West LA, I would have said no, you're crazy. Why would ever do that? I make a great living. I live in a fantastic house. I Get to work with the most talented people in the world. I'm exactly where I want to be for the rest of my life. But by the end of March, we were deciding to move. It happened that fast and it just really simply came down to. My wife was ill and she was in a state where she was not getting better or improving and at one point, a doctor said to us, took me aside and said um, your wife's not gonna make it, she probably won't last the year. When you're told something like that, you have to go Into a different mode, and the mode is what can we do to change course? What can we do? And he said His advice you need. You need to make a drastic change in your life. I said, like what he said you got to get into a place where there's less stress on your wife. So I asked my wife what would be less stressful to you, and her answer was I want to get out of LA. Whoa Didn't expect that.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah.

Tony Savant:

Whoa, where do you want to go? She says I want to move to Pennsylvania, where your family is from, where there's a better support system, and just get out of the hustle and bustle of LA. And she wanted to make a drastic change like that and so Did it. Just said, okay, I guess we're gonna do it. And at the time I had no plan, literally had no plan. I didn't even think I would be teaching. I thought I was gonna come back here and and be a Car salesman or something like that. I really didn't. The first person I called was mark Pellegrino. The second person I called was Jeff Goldblum. Jeff was the one who sort of Encouraged me to find a way to teach somewhere, um, and said, offered to help in any way he possibly could. It was in bob Carnegie who, when I finally told him it was very difficult, emotional day he said no, I know what you're gonna do. You're gonna start the first branch of plows west, outside of LA. You're gonna start plows west Philadelphia. I said, well, I I honestly, up into that moment, never even thought of it. Talk, talk about lack of creativity. Right, there was the opposite of creativity. I didn't even imagine it first off, I didn't think I I wouldn't have asked, I wouldn't have, I wouldn't have Imposed in that way. I just couldn't see myself doing that. So that changed everything then. Then. Then then my mind said was okay, I'm gonna be determined, I want to recreate as best as I can what I've built in in LA. I want to, but even better if I can. Right, because I don't ever do anything the same. I want to do it better. So I was determined I'm gonna. I'm gonna Make the best playhouse west I can and in Philadelphia. And then it worked out great. My wife is doing great. She, her health is fantastic. And it was hard. It was very, very hard and difficult the first couple of years, but uh, now she's in a great place.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, Wonderful and Philly is so lucky to have playhouse west.

Tony Savant:

Well, I'm lucky, I feel blessed being where I'm at I really do and all the students, all the students, yeah, I always wondered, like I'm like man. Tony could have chosen to have this in new york, but we got it in Philadelphia, like well, asked about that too, and it's just my wife said she wants to move near where my family is. Yeah, had no choice. Philadelphia is still an hour away from where I live, but uh, at a plows west glenmore didn't sound so hot, the house west pottstown did not sound like a play, something terrible.

Jennifer Logue:

Um, what has been the greatest challenge in your career so far?

Tony Savant:

the greatest challenge In my I guess a teacher or someone running an acting school or the first thing that comes to mind could be actor teacher. I mean, the greatest challenge early on as an actor was bad teachers Uh, we talked about that earlier Self doubt and all that kind of stuff. Those, those were the greatest challenges. Overcoming, you know, overcoming people that don't know what you're trying to do or don't have an affinity for it, giving you bad at giving you advice. The biggest challenge is just is just saying I'm gonna do it and then do it. That's the biggest challenge, you know. You know how many people say they're gonna do it and then they don't do it. It's like it's like it's like all the people who say they're gonna make a movie or write a script. You know nine, 99.99999%, who have an idea to make a movie. The movie never gets made right. So if you say you're gonna Be an actor or a director or writer or an acting teacher or anything, the hardest thing is just Is just then taking the next, putting the next foot forward and and toward doing it Right. That's, that's always the greatest challenge on the flip side.

Jennifer Logue:

What has been the greatest reward?

Tony Savant:

come into philly.

Jennifer Logue:

In your career in general as an acting teacher award for me is Watching somebody's dream comes true.

Tony Savant:

That's the greatest reward. That's that's my, that's what my life's mission is right helping people Do what they want to do. Right. When I get to see one of my students doing what they want to do, even and I'm not talking about all the movie stars that I've taught, I'm talking about anybody when I I sit around with my wife and we change channels and we're watching, trying to find something, and I and I sit around going, oh there's so-and-so, oh there's so-and-so on that commercial, oh there's so-and-so. I'm so happy to see them in an episodic. They're still doing this after all these years. They're still working. They're still doing acting and not just fills me with so much joy. Like they're not a movie star, nobody knows their name, but they're still working. You know I, they were in my class 20 years ago and they're still working as an actor. That's the greatest. Like I can't turn on the tv and not see one of my students somewhere and something on any given hour of the day, and that's the greatest reward.

Jennifer Logue:

You really change so many lives like in so many ways. You know, as a teacher, teaching us how to act, but also teaching us how to Act in life, like to be.

Tony Savant:

Well, that's a greater people like when I get emails from students who say I didn't end up an actor. I ended up doing this, but everything that I learned in your class has helped me become successful at this. Other things. Sometimes it's in the industry, sometimes it's not even in the industry, but that look, that's a reward too. That's a great.

Jennifer Logue:

That's what teachers live for what's next for playhouse west philadelphia?

Tony Savant:

I mean, what's next is? Um, I don't ever like to rest on my laurels. I'm always trying to improve as a teacher, I'm trying to improve the school, I'm trying to teach it better, get the students better, um, but you know, there's the little milestones that we have along the way every year. You know, there's our film festivals, our film projects. I would love to see more plays. We just did an emotional play called savannah, written by a A, a woman who's a retired educator in her 60s, and she wrote a play that came out of our advanced character development work and she threw a bunch of improvisations and writing. She wrote, put on a play. I would just love to see more original plays. There's what's next for for us. I would love to see more original plays being done. I have been a part of so many of my life and I know how, how instructive they are and they're priceless when you work on them.

Jennifer Logue:

Well, for anyone listening who wants to Train to be an actor, you know where to go, I mean playhouse west.

Tony Savant:

you got two options only if you're willing to Work harder than you've ever worked in your entire life. If you're not willing to do that, then please go somewhere else.

Jennifer Logue:

That's so true, toadie. It's so true it's a full-time job, it is a commitment. It is, you know, is, a full-time job.

Tony Savant:

But you can't achieve Big dreams by putting in the minimum. You can't. You can't achieve a million-dollar dream on a minimum wage, work ethic you have to yeah. You have to be all in all in no plan B it's, you're all in.

Jennifer Logue:

You're all in tony, thank you so much for your time. This was an awesome interview. I'm so grateful to have had you on the show. We'll have to have you on again, I'd love to, and thank you so much for tuning in and growing in creativity with us. I'd love to know what you thought of today's episode, what you found most interesting, what you found most helpful. You can reach out to me on social media, at jenniferlog, or leave or be for creative space on apple podcasts so more people can discover it. I appreciate you so much for being here. My name is Jennifer loge and thanks for listening to this episode of creative space. Until next time you.

Tony Savant's Creative Journey
Choosing Passion Over Practicality
Discovering Sanford Meisner and Playhouse West
Being the Best in Everything
Becoming a Teacher and Finding Fulfillment
The Impact of "Welcome Home, Soldier"
Understanding and Exploring Creativity
Teaching, Directing, and Creativity
Creativity, Podcasts, and Taking Risks
Overcoming Self-Doubt and Pursuing Artistry
Artistic Expression in Teaching and Acting
Finding Rewards in Pursuing Creative Career