Today Ghostlight Chicago celebrates 100 postings. Once again we turn our focus on the necessity of theatre; a question that we've explored through the last six months. It's a question that bears further exploration through the upcoming weeks, months, and years.
It's always a question that sits heavily in my mind as I work my day job - office manager in the development office of a children's hospital. It is sometimes hard to prioritize my personal time spent in the theatre or my advocacy for arts funding when I am faced with the reality that there are hundreds of sick kids across the street from my office. Why should money, time, and effort be diverted away from trying to save them?
Because it is important. There are many types of healing and nurturing that need to take place over the course of a lifetime. Many of us will not face the illnesses that these children face. That is not to say that we shouldn't make every attempt to save them, but we also have to take in to account the reality that many of us won't even think about them in the course of our every day lives. We will think about our jobs, our rent or mortgage payment, our families, and the things that intertwine in our lives. And within this cross hundreds of other things that may or may not directly relate to us, but things we do become aware of because of the media outlets and news sources that inundate our lives. There is a level of stress that we all share on similar things. Stress that can go away or become harmful. Theatre allows us to come together as a community to share in a release of the stresses.
Theatre is like a public group therapy where we can discuss our concerns, fears, and emotions. We work through what is troubling us a people and a society. The performance allows us the permission to laugh, cry, and respond to feelings or ideas that may get buried. Although it may not have the same impact a political protest does to inspire change, a good play will make people think. Unlike a movie, there is an interaction between the performers and the audience. Unlike a music performance, there is story and an exchange of ideas.
We do not operate in a void. Theatre is only one part of the patch-work that completes us as a people. Politics, music, visual arts, journalism, health care, and hundreds of other noble pursuits must go into building a complete society. But theatre is an essential pillar that helps hold us up.