What's Going To Happen?
I was recently at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, an annual festival of new plays in its 41st year. Taylor Mac, actor, playwright, performance artist, director, producer, and singer-songwriter, led a talk in which he asked the audience to say aloud, “What’s going to happen?”, making us collectively articulate our deep uncertainty about the future. This uncertainty is a theme that playwright and actress Lisa Kron recently touched on in one of our recent Rattlestick salon parties. She indicated that what made Anne Frank’s story so moving was that she was living in that attic with a deep sense of not knowing what was going to happen next, if and what type of future she would have.
Lisa also spoke about the role of Rattlestick in the theater ecology: how there needs to be a place and space in the theatrical landscape like Rattlestick that supports those artists creating work on the edge, where they can express themselves in ways that might normally not be acceptable in bigger or more commercial venues. Taylor challenged the audience to consider why smaller venues are essential for minority voices to express themselves.
Last Saturday, we hosted an annual event called Theater Jam. This year’s convocation consisted of 25 playwrights and over 75 actors and directors sharing 10-15 minute excerpts of work over seven hours. There were so many things that moved me about these hours together. We had 23-year old writers in our Apprentice Company working alongside our veteran alumni writers, we had artists of all ethnicities and identities mashed up with one another, courageous writers sharing work in which the words were barely dry on the page. Amidst all this artistic activity, you could hear the whisper: What's Going to Happen?
The only way to face the future is to move towards each other. As E.M. Forster said, "Only Connect! ... Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted." How? Take chances. Communicate with someone different from you every chance you get. Create or support someone who is creating something new out of your fears and expectations about the future.
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