It's been almost a week since the election results have arrived. The comedy theater community has found it difficult to return to performing -- rightfully so. People have asked "how can I be funny at a time like this?" or "what's the point?" or "who cares?" People are fierce to comment and judge at how other people are taking the news, which creates more conflict.
It feels like a bad bad break-up but the worst part isn't the initial shock, yet rather the long term emotional process of getting over it (in 4 years). Protests have already been a daily event this week alone (not that protesting was never around - this is daily at a more nationally recognizable level).
Now, 5 days after, some are recognizing that #Art is #Activism. We need art more than ever now! This is something I've preached about since I started creating media & performance art. It's interesting that people don't think it's true, but the artist's voice is one of the most powerful weapons we have. There's always been a deeper appreciation of art. And no, this isn't some elitist intellectual point of view on cultural perspective. Art hits all levels - all economics, all cultures, all parts of society. And remember that art comes in different masks, which is why there's the deeper appreciation.
This is an opportunity for theater to speak to where it hurts. Instill metaphoric layers as to not handhold nor spoonfeed the audience, yet to rather have open for interpretation and thought analysis. It's also therapeutic to the performer AND the audience. It is escape at an unknowing effect. We need theater to tell stories of now. To protest in dramatic fashion and rally people to fight. Art has the power to get people motivated and determined.
Personally - from a Director's perspective - it's been difficult. I've had to go into rehearsal spaces and performances to set a tone of comfort. I've had to hold my composure and keep my head-up for the good of the art. But I also wanted to extend my compassion in the way that I knew well. I wanted to be a strong leader and let my casts know that my rehearsal space is a place for them to be safe, succeed, and play with their imagination with no interruption.
My fear is that it will only get harder as time continues. I've had to come home to decompress and find ways to attack a new day. I will not tolerate racism, sexism, and bigotry in all aspects of my lifestyle and if it enters my theater space, I will do even more to fight back. You cannot touch my art!