I am aware that most of my blogs about the industry have been weighted towards the negative. It’s been very therapeutic finally getting to spill the bile, that otherwise, would stay locked inside. And I do feel that my work on that front is not done. There is more to say.
However, this time round, I’d like to examine the positives. So come sit with me a while on the riverbank of dreams and let’s watch the dragonflies skip across the water. Let’s hear that brook bubble. Let’s get our hot and tired feet wet in the cooling water. And let’s think of the good. In fact let us think bigger. What is the purpose of art?
I know, through my lived experience, that everyone engages with art. Art cuts through swathes of labels that we use to define the world: educated/uneducated; sick/healthy; powerful/powerless; rich/poor. I was a kid who grew up feeling very much alone – in many aspects of life. When my real interest in theatre was born, it was at a time of personal upheaval and confusion and silence. There was so much I couldn’t say. I had to be the polite, Catholic boy, well-mannered and respectful at all times when I wanted to bellow my indignities, when I wanted my true feelings known. I couldn’t. I was gagged.
Theatre, being on stage, ah now there, there I could speak. Not my words, but close to my words; I could hide behind the makeup and in plain sight of everyone I could say my piece and be safe. Then you find a community of like-minded people and suddenly you know that you are not alone.
Art, working on a play, writing, they are all a kind of reaching out to others, taking their hand, creating a glue that bonds and says: I am human too; I have lived; I see you. So I can stand in front of a Seurat painting and be connected with him, long since dead, and feel and see his view of the world. I watch a Shakespeare play and some voice speaks from 400 years ago and it means something to me today. Shakespeare reaches forward and speaks to me now and I reach back and think of his time, his life. It an open ended dialogue across the centuries. There is something powerful in that. His art says, I lived once, this is how I saw the world. All I have to do in 2021 is listen and learn about humanity. What was true then is true now.
I think that is the power in this art form. It keeps the conversation flowing and we live and we learn some more and we put it into our art and speak of all the things that it means to be alive. All the possible reasons and meanings of this little moment in time we call; MY LIFE knowing that those who were brave enough to create art say back to us: THIS WAS MY LIFE.
I always wanted to be part of that conversation. To speak my truth and see what it would lead to. I think any artist is trying to do that. To find meaning and communicate what they found and see if it resonates in the heart of humanity. This never goes away for me. And I see now that is why I am so angry at times with this industry – because for the most superficial reasons a whole series of gatekeepers choose randomly the peoples whose voices will be heard. And deny others theirs.
But this is a good post, a happy post. I feel lucky sometimes to be a part of the conversation and I am learning day by day that I have to be much braver to say my truth. No matter what people think. I am getting there. These little chapter blogs I write are so meaningless but they are also part of my communication with you, dear reader. What I have said you can say back. What I say you can all fundamentally disagree with but at least this magical form of conversation is happening. We aren’t standing dumb in our lives. We are not voiceless.
The moment I love the most in a show? You’ve been called to stage. You’re standing in the dark in the wings. There is that nervous flutter in your chest. Your palms may be sweating. There is a flurry of activity from crew. And the audience is chatting away and you can hear the buzz like a million bees. Then the lights begin to dim and the audience hushes themselves slowly, and backstage every conversation stops. Heads and hearts turn towards the stage. Then there is a moment of silence. And darkness. In the air expectation, anxiety, focus. The ride is about to begin. The cue light turns green. And you take one step towards the stage…..