Why (Making) Theatre is Important

One topic that I have neglected in my posts has been Theatre. I don’t know if I even mentioned it, I’m not going back to check, but I feel like I’ve left you all in the dark about that aspect of my life.

For a long time Theatre has been my life-blood. My mother got me involved in Theatre when I was 11, and since then I’ve been consistently active in making Theatre. When I started my undergraduate career at Butler University one of the classes we had to take as Theatre Majors was The Idea of Theatre, where we would look at some of the more influential people in Theatre history, their contributions, and different reasons people had for doing Theatre. Our final assignment included writing a short Manifesto that explained why we wanted to make Theatre. That was three years ago now and I don’t quite remember what I wrote other than that I desired to make Theatre that would bring meaning to people’s lives, cause them to think, and help make the world a better place.

In the intervening time my idea of what would make a better world has dramatically expanded, and I think my desire to use Theatre as the advance guard for Social Change has grown proportionately. For me Theatre has always been a way to speak to the silences in people’s lives, to start the conversation or change the narrative, and to provide meaning. Many of the most meaningful and spiritual experiences I’ve had in my life have been in the context of creating Theatre.

Theatre shows us who we are, it acts as a reflection of our brightest and grimiest selves. It also shapes us, molds us, and inspires us. Theatre has been used by anti-war activists, by those fighting for greater inclusion of the marginalized,  by those seeking to bring joy, and because it is beautiful.

Theatre is a form of Creation, it is Art! For myself, my Betrothed, and many of my friends, it is life. Through theatre we can shape our own narrative. Maybe we aren’t included or loved by family or friends? Theatre provides us with a family and a way to tell stories of love and encouragement beyond all forms of exclusion, hate, and bigotry.  In that way Theatre acts as an antidote to all the sickness and evil in the world, a place to both escape and explore, to revel and regret, to laugh and cry, to forget and to forgive.

Without Theatre I know I would not find life to be worth anything. Theatre is where I envision and live out my Utopia.

Where I Create instead of Killing.

NOLA

The weekend of Nov 21-23 I was in New Orleans! This was my first visit, and the first time I’d been down south since my family moved from Texas. I went as part of a “Volunteer Study Tour” put together by Butler University’s Diversity Center. The goal of the trip was to educate us on New Orleans culture and history and to get us engaged in helping the community.

The trip was split over three days, with the first two days being taken up with tours of the city’s museums, streets, historic districts and the like. We took a boat tour of a swamp(it was really cold, I had dressed for a warmer NOLA, and I was let down) where we saw wild boar and learned about how Katrina affected the area.

The most important tour that we went on was probably of the Whitney plantation, which is home to the only slavery museum in Louisiana. We were walked through memorials to all the children born into slavery in Louisiana, all those enslaved on the plantation, and all those enslaved in Louisiana. There were thousands of names, accompanied by quotes by survivors about their treatment and their life. Parts of it were quite harrowing. It was the first time I had been on a plantation tour that didn’t revolve around the White owning class, but instead looked through the eyes of those who lived every day in such an atrocious system.

The other part of the trip that had a real impact on me was the Volunteer Day. We spent the day with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans working construction on houses that were either devastated by Katrina or were being built from scratch. We were split into groups and assigned different tasks. My group roofed a house. Which was a very fun and rewarding experience. (pics to come)

In all, I would say that the trip was everything I expected it to be.