Something I never lose hope in is my passion for theatre, live performance, and/or the arts to change the world. I believe in it. No matter how much you talk about funding or investment, statistics or politics, I will believe in the stage and its power. Acting school has exposed me to it everyday. People’s individual DAILY lives are changed by their interaction with the theatre. Seeing other flawed gorgeous humans up on stage baring souls and breaking hearts changed how we interact with our routine and our commitments. It gives us a big deep breath of humanity. I believe that if everyone watched (or did) some good theatre every morning instead of checking their facebook or checking their bank account, a lot more productive things would happen.
So, it’s no surprise that I was gleeful while reading an article about how Theaters Contribute to Social Justice and Meaningful Change in Communities. This Huffington Post article discusses many instances of community theatre invigorating groups of people to enact social change. Some of the stories are old and folky but some of them are real and current. What I can agree with whole-heartedly is that the experience of seeing live performance shifts a person. It’s addicting, this feeling, and its important. I’m devoted to this phenomenon and have been seeing happen a lot lately, in my regular ol’ acting school life.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting some incredible friends while at Boston University. Friends who are fluent in the language of vulnerability and compassion. I’ve met these people inside and outside of the College of Fine Arts and have had such meaningful conversation with them. Recently, a few of my friends not studying theatre (officially) have been attending the Senior Acting Major Thesis projects at BU (30-40 minute “one-man shows” that strive to tell the subjects’ story as generously as possible). These performances can be quite personal and its often a very emotional experience for the close-knit community of students, teachers, and family members. Its not often that a stranger just looking for a night of entertainment wanders into these performances. Thankfully, that’s been happening. I bring this all up because the responses I’ve seen from these people that have little to no “official” connection to these performers are being significantly MOVED. Tears are streaming down their faces, belly laughs are uncontrollable. Multiple friends have reported to me that they are committed to seeing all of the projects, regardless of whether or not they know the performer. It’s exhilarating, it’s challenging, it’s real life. THIS is the kind of stuff that propels people into change. Live performance reflecting their experience so they know they aren’t quite so alone.
So, sure, we shouldn’t take away any money from hospitals curing disease and saving millions of lives but we sure can give some money to organizations attempting to ENRICH people’s lives everyday. If education had a little, no, A LOT, more arts required, we’d have a lot more kids wanting to go to school. It’s as simple as that. Arts are contagious. Arts are human. Theater does really, really change lives.