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Antonia Novello

Former Surgeon General of the United States

I was one of those kids that got lost in the system of health, either because you're poor or either because your parents are not doctors, so you cannot ask the right questions. I was one of those. I was supposed to have surgery when I was eight, and I didn't have surgery until I was 18. So, when you get lost in the track of medicine, then you want to be somebody that will solve the problems for others. And I think that motivation was there all my life, all my life.
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Sir Trevor Nunn

Theatrical Director

Sir Trevor Nunn: I think I was seven-years-old. I was taken to a place called the Ipswich Hippodrome. "Hippodrome" is a word that means a stadium where horses are going to be on view, but lots of vaudeville theaters were called hippodromes. I was very excited that at last I was being taken to a theater. I had no idea what the inside of a theater would look like. Even in this area - it was just a kind of vaudeville house - there was this feeling of red velvet cushions. Probably it wasn't velvet; I don't know what the material was, but some feeling of plushness that I found very exciting. As we sat there, I heard an orchestra tuning up for the first time. I say an orchestra -- it was probably six musicians, eight musicians, I don't know -- but I heard violins -- an E being struck, and a clarinet being played. And then, the overture, and I have never forgotten that completely visceral excitement. That -- butterflies in the stomach and a show is about to begin. I can't remember much else about the show, except that there was a woman in it who had a very shiny black skirt and it was split right up to the waist. That image remains. I would imagine, therefore, that I was being taken to a show that was pretty inappropriate for a seven year-old. Heaven knows what kind of blue jokes were coming down from that stage! But, it was an indelible thrill.
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Sir Trevor Nunn

Theatrical Director

The conditions of theater, particularly of classical theater, should be improved to the point where it's the seat price that can be lowered, where the working conditions are such that the standards are higher, and therefore it lets you down less often. Because when it works, when it really works, then it can change your life for good and all. There are things that can happen to you in a theater, things which can be to do with performance, to do with understanding elements of the human condition, which can be to do with ideas, can be to do with uncomfortable ideas, abrasive ideas, revolutionary ideas. But, there are things that can change you more extremely and stay with you longer because of that live visceral contact. I worry that we are possibly, towards the end of something. Rather than still flourishing right in the middle of something. I sense that we needn't be near the end of something. I sense that there's a wonderful ecological balance to be achieved between live things and mechanical things, between the indelible visceral things and the library of things that you can go back to and check out many times over. There's a balance that will ultimately be the best thing for the species. Just this morning we were cheering to Nobel Prize winning chemists who had warned us all about what we were doing to the environment, what we were doing to the ozone layer. When we get too rarefied with scientific advance, when we rely upon scientific advance that takes us further and further away from our basic human condition and we get it wrong, we have to keep coming back to our basic human condition. The basic condition of the theater actually requires no technology. All it requires is that fire last night and those costumes and the human voice and people gathered together. That's all that's required for something to happen that is life changing. Of course, there are countless sophistications of it. Keeping the two things is what's going to make entertainment, and expression, and communication so much more rich in the next century, in the next millennium.
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Joyce Carol Oates

National Book Award

Joyce Carol Oates: I've always been so interested in personal history. I'm very fascinated by my parents' and my grandparents' generations. I seem to think that they had a resilience and an integrity that may be somewhat deficient in my own generation, and in subsequent generations as well, because America has been rather easy to live in since the Depression. So, I've been so interested in my parents' generation. And probably out of that respect -- a curiosity for what they lived through -- grew my fascination with subject matter.
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Joyce Carol Oates

National Book Award

I'm drawn to writing partly because I'm fascinated by the mimetic process. That is, to describe a scene that moves me emotionally, to render it into language so that it may evoke the same emotion in a reader. I find that I'm in love with the external world, and writing is a way of conveying that.
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Joyce Carol Oates

National Book Award

I came into the classroom, and there were about 40 students. It was a night class. And I had been very excited and really frightened because I had never taught before. And I remember walking in the room, and I came to the podium and I looked out and some of these students were older than I was - I was only about 22. Such a feeling of happiness came over me. I thought, "This is where I belong." Then I started teaching, and I just loved it.
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