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Stephen Sondheim

Award-winning Composer and Lyricist

Among the shows that passed the desk, I looked at one and the title page said Assassins -- I just immediately thought, "That's a musical," without knowing anything about it -- by a man named Charles Gilbert. And I opened it up and it was essentially a tale of a soldier who comes back from Vietnam and he's politicized and becomes an assassin and he tries to assassinate I'm not sure if it was the president. I think it was. At any rate, along with this story, which is really one of paranoia, there was a sort of Sidney Greenstreet figure who would appear as sort of the spirit of evil, who would appear sporadically and read quotations from various politicians' letters. I don't think they were all presidents, but anyway. So it was interspersed with history, and it wasn't for us. We decided not to do it. But many years later I was talking to John Weidman. We had written together, and we wanted to write something else together, and I mentioned this to him, and his eyes lit up and he got it right away, the way I did, and he said, "I don't know what it is, but that's a great idea." I said, "Let me see if I can track down Charles Gilbert," and I did, and I wrote him a letter, and I said, "Could we use your idea? We won't use your show, just the idea of Assassins." And to my delighted surprise, he said "Absolutely, providing that it doesn't ever prevent me from putting my show on, if I can find a way to put it on." I said absolutely not.
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Wole Soyinka

Nobel Prize for Literature

Wole Soyinka: It was very simple. I belong to the West, the Yorùbá part of the federation. And in a war, when a war is being fought, it is being fought on behalf of people. And this war committed me, as a Nigerian, it committed me, and I felt that war was wrong and I refused to accept that, to be committed in that way. The Biafrans had been violated. They had been massacred. It was more than one massacre, it was like a wave of massacres. And they were being hunted everywhere. In other words, the conduct of the Federal side, at least that portion to which I belong, indicated -- said, in plain language, even though it was not articulated as such, "You, the Igbo, are no longer part of the federation." There was no way, nothing was done to make them feel secure, at least not enough was done to make them feel secure in the rest of the nation. And then, after they had seceded, which I considered, by the way, a tactical mistake -- not a political crime, not a moral crime, no, no, no, no, no. It was a tactical error. But then, to go after them, to declare war against them on this banal basis of unity above anything else! Unity of what? I mean, who committed the act of disuniting the nation in the first place? Those who made the Igbo feel they were not part of the full entity. So for me it was an unjust war of which I could not be a part. And if I'd not gone to the East, I would have gone into exile, because I would refuse to be part of that entity which waged war against a people who had been so dehumanized. So in effect, it was for my own peace of mind, to try and do everything possible to make sure the war did not take place.
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Thomas Starzl

Father of Modern Transplantation

Thomas Starzl: Our kidney results were our battering ram. No doubt, no doubt about it. Just doing those livers, if that were an isolated effort it would have been professionally ruinous. And it actually was, going beyond the kidney was not exactly the route to professional success. People were trying to recruit me to go elsewhere and take chairs and so forth. But they always -- or almost always -- said, 'We want you to come here and do kidneys, but you've got to promise that you won't do livers." So any time somebody said that, the game was over as far as considering a job.
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