I’ve been thinking a lot lately about community (mostly in the theatrical sense, since that’s where my primary community lives) and what it means to inhabit a shared world of common ideals/pastimes/passions/etc., because community, after all, is comprised of a group of people tied together by something.
And no matter the “binding”, complex, all-too-human factors inevitably take a front seat to the issues that brought everyone together in the first place; Leaders will rise to positions of leadership, while most just shuffle along – sheeple unaware of (or uninterested in) their untapped collective power. Some members will come on strong, and others with unwavering passivity… Intentions will be drafted, re-configured, and taken up in arms -for always there will be moments of contradiction amongst a community’s flock.
Always, there will be moments of momentum and drag, pulling at those who stand together… Always there will be chatter about what isn’t getting done, who isn’t making good choices… Always there will be change and opportunity to refocus.
And a good leader (of any community) will be able to tend to those moments of strife and (sometimes) furor… they will listen, they will lead, they will stay cool. A good community will listen when the leader speaks reason, and challenge the leader to find reason when she/he has none.
Which is why what comes of community can be amazingly powerful – a group of people working towards a common goal… it’s part of what we bought into with “The American Dream” – that united we stand.
And so we stand.
But community can also fracture and split into useless 2-man bands intent on sounding the drums amidst a cacophony of dissent if it’s not careful.
It can yield revolutions, change… it can evolve – if it’s focused.
There are a lot of theatrical evolutions happening right now (amidst all the other daily, more obvious upheaval) and it’s an opportunity for us as theatre practitioners to listen to one another, apply our knowledge, and create real change… to lay the groundwork for sustainable practice, thought, and longevity.
So I don’t cringe (too much) when I listen to conversations about where theatre is “going” – I listen, I pay attention, and I look for windows. I try to find others who are also invigorated by the transformations happening around us, and I lay plans for action.
I’m getting ready to announce the From the Mouths of Babes line up – I’m excited by the women playwrights writing for the fest, the directors helming their work, and the countless other actors and audience members who will enjoy, bear witness to, and sustain the fest.
So, I know it’s just one step – one little festival (going up in three cities) but you see – the thing about community is that if you haven’t yet found one, you can get busy creating it.
Stay tuned for the From the Mouths of Babes play announcement!