I was thinking about the fire under my ass.
It's been there for as long as I can remember. Well, which is to say from about 12 years old on. My memory is sketchy before that. But I mean this fire in my gut I've had forever beyond that. Be it used for good or, *cough,* bad.
I've always had this itch. It's really what drew me to the theatre in the first place. It began as a need for validation. There is something about parental abandonment that eats at your soul and for many of us, it manifests in a need for validation, wherever we can find it. I found theatre filled some of that emptiness. The camaraderie of other Artists. The applause from the audience.
But when the applause fades, what then?
I mean, really, you can't just have an audience following you around applauding your every move. Or maybe you can. Kardashians. Social Media. Ugh, that's a totally different post. And it boils down to basically I don't have that kind of money.
I was thinking about it though, the "me" and the "we." When exactly did I stop thinking about theatre in terms of the "me" and more in the terms the "we"? Because to be an Arts Advocate, you have to be thinking more in terms of the unit rather than a single actor. The Arts really depend on those who value art itself beyond whatever personal satisfaction one gets out of it. You have to think of the fulfillment of others beyond yourself. The good of society on the whole.
And that's where it clicked for me. My need to be an Arts Advocate exists because of the empathy I have as a person. I know what The Arts can give on a personal level, and I would hope for all humans to be able to experience that. Distinguished Readers, the great Stella Adler:
This is where The Arts are needed. Life is hard. I know it, you know. So many people know it. But The Arts exist partly because it fills the emptiness with a sense of purpose. And that's needed now more than ever as we become isolated with the blessing and curse that is modern technology. I mean, thank you for reading this on the internets, but I'd like to also tell you all this to your face.
But beyond what theatre fills in my soul personally, I also want it to fill a piece of your soul. You, and that guy behind you, and that other human over that way across from you. If you're reading this alone, I'm speaking of all the people you can't see around you. Scared? (don't worry about it. really. Also, don't look behind you. DON'T!)
And Art needs to be accessible. And I mean this with not only how much it costs to go see art, but also to the kind of Art that's out there. I know I'm not saying something that hasn't already said here, I'm just putting it out there as a count-me-in sort of thing. Think about the cost of the theatre ticket.
What does it cost you to see a show? $40? $60? How about a Broadway Tour? $120? Per seat?
There is some rethought and relief in the works in an attempt to make theatre more accessible through pay-what-you-can and free theatre movements. But even free theatre isn't totally free. There are bills to pay, no matter what. Space rental, etc. Even in the case of donated space, someone is covering the cost of that donation. And I, for one, would like to see to it that Artists are paid a living wage. Even Non-Equity Artists. Someday. I want to help be a small part of the solution.
But someone has to open their mouths about these things. And I've got a big mouth.
Gets me in trouble sometimes, as I've said. That big, reckless, no-nonsense mouth. But to be an Arts Advocate, we have to start asking these big questions louder. What DOES our society value? As opioid and alcohol addiction skyrocket, teen suicides are on the rise, middle-aged white people suicide skyrockets, what does our society value?
I don't think The Arts hold the solution. I think The Arts hold part of the solution.
I'm here to say, to Advocate, The Arts hold a place for people looking to fill some of the emptiness.