If you want to make a human being a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. Growing up, I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me?’ That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me was this deep desire, that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. So that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”
– Junot Diaz
The video continues on to show a young man’s reflection of seeing the production of The Flick put on by Company One. Though I have yet to go and see the show, I still completely understood the young man’s reaction. He was stating how he saw himself in the character in the play. He could relate to that character… and that made him want to write a play. This is the second play he’s ever seen and being able to relate to the character… having the show be a mirror held up to him… made him want to go and write a play.
So I ask, why isn’t every play like this? Why don’t people step out of every show they see wanting to write a play, feeling like they related to the characters they saw. And even if they don’t want to go write a play, they should still leave with the same passion. The play should mean something. It should be relevant. It should be done for a reason.
Often I sit at design and productions meetings and the first question that usually comes up is, why should we do this play? What makes this play relevant today? Sometimes, to be honest, I’m not sure. But, if more people see plays that are relevant, that move them, then they’ll search for more plays that do the same exact thing. In response to that, demand for these relevant plays will increase and more playwrights will find themselves digging deeper and exploring further. ALSO, those playwrights who have been digging deeper and exploring further in the recent past will finally be brought to light through their work.
My hope is that more of these amazing plays will be shown to young artists… because they’re out there. You just have to search. Also, my hope is that teachers of theatre will begin bringing these plays to students. It’s so easy to repeat a play every single year, but is that play still relevant? Does is speak to your students? So, students… I challenge you to go searching for materials that speak to you. Go find your reflection in a play that increases your passion for theatre and art. And teachers, I challenge you to survey your students… go find work that reflects them, that will move them, that will drive them to work harder and dig deeper. Because that’s what we all need, we all need to be moved by theatre… because if we aren’t, then what’s the point of everything we do?