I know it’s not for the money.
So… what’s your why?
Part of the privilege of teaching theater on a college level is the constant re-evaluation of the art form as it shape-shifts through human history. For the Greeks it was an integral part of the social experiment to foster loyalty to and identify with the Athenian ethos. Likewise, part of the success of the Elizabethan theater was in response to and encouragement of the burst of patriotic spirit in England following the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Throughout the twentieth century, theater was used to express the larger need for social change, to interpret and reinterpret the human conditions in which they found themselves.
Artists make art in response to the culture that surrounds them – and use it to collectively create the social change they desire.
My students often comment on how even a cursory study of theatre history helps them to understand social movements over different time periods, and what life was like “back then” for “real people.” I explain that is because theatre can be seen as a “mirror” on the human experience from one participant’s perspective of life (the playwright) as he saw it. It gives voice to a period that no longer exists.
What needs to be voiced now, at the beginning of the 21st century? What is your interpretation of the human experience?
What’s the Story Only You Can Write?
We live in some amazing times. Collectively I feel that paradigm shift is occurring in our lifetime.
Do you see it?
- Political division in our country
- A potential global conflict in the making
- Little sense of the collective “we,” a loss of community spirit that unites us
- Economic uncertainty
- Tribal mentalities that are exclusive rather than inclusive
- A loss of trust in our leaders and institutions
- Shifts in attitudes regarding work and labor
- A pervasive sense of grief for what was and is no more
- Plus so many others – fill in your own blanks.
In every area, we are experiencing a tectonic change. A profound shift that is breaking our sense of personal continuity with “the way things are.” Referring to 2019 right now feels like a different time and place.
These feelings, both on the collective and individual level, are the 21st century artists’ canvas.
Artists, especially theatre artists, have always said, “Look at yourself. What do you see? Do you like it? Do you really want it to be this way?”
My dear artist friend – what is your message? How do you see life today?
Artists are cultural changemakers, people who stand up and force us to look at who we are, in hopes of creating change.
- Henrik Ibsen saw the powerlessness of women in their own homes. His play A Doll’s House sparked the women’s movement.
- George Bernard Shaw saw the degradation of poverty and the exploitation of the poor around him and wrote social plays that led to the improvement of social conditions everywhere.
- Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank saw the unjust conviction of prisoners on Death Row and interviewed many who were jailed for crimes they didn’t even commit. Their Off-Broadway play The Exonerated led to the overturning of the death penalty in Illinois in 2003.
There are so many more examples that illustrate that when artists’ voices are heard, social and cultural change begins to happen.
How Are You Contributing to the Cultural Conversation?
What’s the story only YOU can write, based on where you are in the world and what you are feeling right now?
What truths do you hold to be “self-evident?” What is not being said that needs to be understood?
What will future academics teach about YOU?
CreateTheater was formed help you launch the plays that need to be told right now. Create theater that makes a difference. Write the play YOU NEED TO WRITE.
I’m looking for new plays and musicals to develop.
Follow us for more information coming soon.