a modern poetics
theatre has the power to bring a community together, and to inspire dialogue. theatre has the power to provoke an audience toward action or reflection, & to provide solace and humor in familiarity. theatre has the power to break down the barriers of race and class and accessibility & that theatre is, inherently, for everyone. it is not created in a void; it demands an audience. it demands reaction. it demands response. theatre does not allow us to sit passively and let the world pass us by. theatre, by its very nature, forces us to change.
theatre is also a powerful source of personal & communal recognition, understanding, and unity. there is something inherently gratifying about sharing a live experience with others. this is the power and potential that american theatre holds. every time we bring 25, 50, or 100 people together in a room to share an experience, we change a bit of the environment in which we live.
we live in a country that both celebrates –and is plagued by- its racial history. by telling common, human stories, theatre enables its audience members a collective experience, a chance to promote dialogue, an opportunity to bridge an “us” vs. “them” gap that has dominated us for decades. sunday mornings may still be as segregated in the cities where our theaters live as anywhere else in the country, but on friday and saturday nights, our theaters have the potential to provide some of the most diverse communal experiences in regard to race and gender and age and class and sexual orientation & identity. theatres provide an outlet for all of their community’s members, from all walks of life, to celebrate that which brings them together: the live arts experience.
we need to take swift but careful steps toward ensuring our theatres' success. we need to stand proud, knowing that each of us is part of something much larger than ourselves, and much more powerful than we each could individually hope to be.
on the surface, it may seem that our theatres simply produce plays and musicals. i hope you will all agree with me that as organizations at the heart of our communities, our theaters are much, much more; they hold the power to continue changing the world in which they exist.