To those who are losing a lot of their will to create in the wake of President Tyrant:
Don’t let him and his orcs win. People NEED your books, stories, poems, paintings, jewelry, dolls, knitting, tapestries, vases, weaving, dishes, every creation that comes from your hands. Every creation is a punch back at the haters and the heartless. Every word puts hope or thought or dreams or solace or fire into those who read it.
You become a different voice from the bullyraggers and the foolish; your ideals, wishes and convictions reach your audience, whether they are reading Dr. Seuss or James Joyce. You convey food for hope and imagination whether you realize it or not, and the most innocuous-seeming work gives those who partake of it something to go on with.
Keep soldiering on. Comedian or philosopher, baker or glassblower, writer of tomes or fan fiction, you’re needed now more than ever.
Something strange is going on with the way we talk about feelings. Emotional responses are mocked in some but honored in others. The same people deride millennials and their “safe spaces” where feelings are never hurt, and then fall back on the refrain that “I just feel more secure when I have a gun.” Feelings, it seems, are either a laughable distraction or a crucial decision-making element, depending on who’s having them.
The need to feel safe, in particular, is often treated as childish and absurd—but only when coming from people who have actual reason to feel vulnerable. Asking to be recognized as your true gender? It’s all in your head. Asking for accommodations for illness and disability? You’re too sensitive. Recounting experiences of dehumanization because of your race or gender? What an overreaction. But those who want to make the country “safer” by securing the borders against people they perceive as outsiders are never painted as whiners or cowards. The police officers killing unarmed folks in a moment of panic are not mocked for failing to keep their feelings in check. When someone wants a deadly weapon, their desire to feel safe becomes a rugged and real and sexy conviction.
The thing about theatre is that it’s a ghost. It’s over even as you experience it, and even if the show you’re watching is filmed for later broadcast somewhere, the experience of watching a stage show on television or a movie screen just isn’t the same. That monologue or joke or musical number you really loved disappears even as you’re watching it, a mirage that evaporates with every word spoken. When I was a college theatre student, one of my favorite directors, a middle-aged woman who had the kind of world-weary voice you want in all middle-aged female professors, would give this sly grin in our Intro to Theatre classes and say that the thing that set theatre apart was that it was ephemeral. Other art endures; performances—in the theatre, in concerts, in other fine arts—have to die in the instant by their very natures. This professor would offer a rueful chuckle when she said that word, ephemeral, and she always sounded a little sad about the whole thing. And after another decade of life, I think I get it: To be involved in the theatre is to be constantly haunted.