It is hard today to sing the praises of theater when, not only is Broadway dark, so are almost all the theaters in the world. It just so happens they are dark at a time when they are most needed.
Theater changed my life. It enabled me to find purpose and to be a prophet to the world for the message that every human being must face their mortality and that of those they love. In happens not on our count or timeline. Rather on one we do not control. One can believe it to be divine or perhaps natural or random or inevitable. In all cases, though, we as human beings need to find the courage and strength for the journey. Either our own death or that of someone we love.
My insight discovered through theater and performance is that of the LovePartner – the person who holds in my arms the one I love most in the world as she would take her last breath. I understand it as 'The Actual Dance’ – a ritual that occurs in different time and different dimensions of reality. The ultimate act of love and dignity.
It started with improvise theater. Being trained in the discovery of story in the here and now for the stage. It ended with the writing of the story of my life based on those principles and discoveries they enable. It became the one-man, two-musician theatre piece: “The Actual Dance”.
I want to take a moment especially to honor the world of Solo Theater – One-person shows. It is a community in which I now find myself and which is hit particularly hard by these dark, virus days. Solo artists are people who have a story to tell, or a style of being that makes people laugh or ways to tell the stories of the great known and unknowns of history in dramatic fashion.
Solo theater is typically different form other forms of theatrical art. We don’t require large casts, massive sets, full orchestras. Sometimes it is just us on stage. Standing and being ourselves, a character – or even being a dozen characters. Some can sing, some sing and some dance.
All are brave and powerful and offer transformative experiences for both themselves and the audience. It is an incredibly interactive art --- by that I mean their heart and the heart of the audience art touched. Each help the other internalize the meaning of the words differently every time it is seen.
I’m lucky. I’ve got groupies. People who have seen The Actual Dance maybe a dozen times. Each time, they tell me it has a different meaning. It is one of ways they work on healing a deep wound. Or, finding new meaning in life: It is a bright sunny Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis. I am standing on a street corner during the Indianapolis fringe festival. A couple walks up to me, cautiously it seems. The husband says:
“Excuse me sir, I just wanted to thank you. We saw your show Thursday night and it has changed how I will relate to my wife forever. Thank you.”
Theater can do that. And that changed me. That let me understand the message of the performance differently. No one had ever said that to me and yet it is an obvious reaction or response.
I hope during these most difficult of times that we appreciate the critical importance theater in the world. All of theater and all of those in theater. The playwrights, actors, theater owners, bookers, musicians, lighting and sound designers, and stagehands. Thank you.
Now today there is something you can do! These are dark – literally every theater is dark – dark days for theater. Help as you can. You are probably getting request from many, many sources. I hope you can help not such the theater itself, but the actors and others involved in theater
The Actual Dance can be supported through a tax-deductible gift through Fractured Atlas, our fiscal sponsor.