The college freshman in me would slap me in the face for writing this.
The college freshman in me also didn’t know she would graduate under a Donald Trump presitocracy.
But I understand the need for escapist theatre, with the caveat that the term “escapist” is contingent upon the times.
During The Great Depression, audiences gloried in spectacular fantasies of high society and easy living that they would never know. I think my style of escapist entertainment is altered when the man soon to be running our country was bred for wealth and high society. His high society is not my fantasy.
Rather, my ideal “escapism” in the theatre nowadays is a play that could remain preserved throughout Trump’s reign. The recent production of Mala by Melinda Lopez at ArtsEmerson accomplished just that. The play centers around the daily tasks and struggles involved in taking care of aging parents. With two sets of aging grandparents, and a mother with moderate to severe arthritis, I found I was able to escape in the pain, yes, but the familiar and familial pain, something that will outlast a Trump presidency. Lopez’s work chronicled her time caring for her mother in relation to other family members as well, creating an array of outlets for an audience member to enter the play in.
We are entering an era in which the Baby Boomer generation is rapidly requiring more care. Just ask my father who works in drug development and my mother who is watching her father fight Parkinson’s. Although this could be viewed as a shared struggle, it is an artist’s job to find the shared humor and everyday complexities that lie within these generational responsibilities.
“One perfect clementine…” Lopez repeats throughout the piece.
Even clementines will outlast a Trump presidency.
Right now, I’m not interested or quite honesty ready to handle plays that directly address our political climate. I’m craving plays that allow me to escape into the everyday drama that all audience members can relate to, which opens up possibilities for dynamic talkbacks and conversations amongst audience members. I want to write plays that my father can go to and forget for a time whether or not he’ll have healthcare when he retires. I want to write plays that allows my friends to forget for a time about whether or not they’ll have access to birth control. I want to write plays that show a diverse array of modern romances so my friends can laugh and complain about love. In a country where our vice-president believes electric shock can cure homosexuality, artists need to keep creating stories that reinforce love is a right, not a privilege.
Escapism is not cheap art. Escapism is a survival tactic.
I’m craving one perfect clementine, however rare that might be.