"Everything is hummable. When they say my music is not, they’re really saying it is not reminiscent of something else. Hummable is a meaningless word, and so is melodic. If a tune is heard often enough, it becomes hummable." - Stephen Sondheim
Artmakers and storytellers - write books, draw comics, paint paintings, do stand-up, code video games, make movies, become a YouTube sensation, craft poetry, animate short-films, make documentaries, design fashion, sing original songs, choreograph a number, create theatre!
Make us laugh. Help us grieve, heal, and breathe. Challenge our notions. Engage us in social dialogue. Teach us to be kind and empathetic. Remind us who we are. Show us who we can be.
Let's keep inundating our culture with our varying narratives and perspectives. We're playing a cultural long-game here - centuries in the making. We can be influencing tomorrow's voters in profound ways today. There are short-term horrors to be concerned and grappled with to be sure, but never doubt the power of your craft to shape the country in the long-run.
(Oh, and do drag! Lots and lots of drag!)
I posted this on my Facebook timeline on November 9th, 2016.
I just had the most dramatic dream I've had in a long time:
I was a guest artist at a theatre conference for young actors put on by a group called CTE - Children's Theatrical Entertainment (any resemblance between this dream organization and an existing entity is purely coincidental). We were in a long hall filled with tables of about 6-8 young actors, ranging from ages 10-22. Each guest artist was assigned to a table, and was to facilitate a discussion and answer questions about career paths in theatre.
One kid at my table had done quite well for himself. He shared how excited he was that he was now going on a national tour of a show, after having done the Broadway run. I encouraged him to keep working hard, being disciplined, yada yada yada, the stuff you say to the kids who don't really need much advice. It is interesting to note that this kid was Asian, so there was some pride in seeing that he was doing well for himself.
Then another kid spoke - a scrawny, white, gay dancer-type, who looked very despondent. He asked me "Should I just give up?" He went on to explain that after what felt like years of "putting in the time," things didn't seem to pan out for him beyond community theatre gigs. He said he was in one Broadway show, but afterwards, nothing seemed to work out for him.
I started to give him the typical talk of "sticking with it," and "getting your name out there," but then I thought of something else to tell him. I decided that it would actually apply to the entire hall, so I stood up and addressed everyone.
"I have something to say that I think will apply to everyone here..."
"STOP!" came a yell at a nearby table. It was a scowling man, perhaps only a few years older than me, who was a facilitator as well. "Don't say another word!"
I walked over to the man. "Do you even know what I was going to say?"
"Yes, I can take a guess."
"I think it's something that needs to be said."
"No, you were supposed to focus on your table, not the whole group."
"Are you serious? What is your problem?"
In an odd moment of honesty, the man replied "I'm CTE's bitch," which - because it was a dream - I knew meant that there were some strict organizational rules that this man felt compelled to enforce. The poor guy also looked completely miserable.
My response was straight out of a Hollywood speech: "Instead of just being their bitch, why don't you let them know how miserable you are and that your misery is spreading to all of these young minds who you're actually supposed to be helping?!"
He only scowled back, and then smiled this menacing "You have no idea what you're talking about - just wait a few more years" smile.
I angrily walked back to my table and addressed the scrawny kid again.
"OK, here's something else you need to do..."
The kid had his pen at the ready to write down this paramount piece of advice.
"HAVE FUN," I said.
The kid laughed - his face no longer seriously sullen.
"Have fun! You didn't become a theatre artist to be miserable, right? So don't let anything suck the FUN out of it!"
He wrote down the advice and smiled at me.
Then I woke up.
I posted this on my Facebook timeline on August 23rd, 2016.
"The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity." - Walt Whitman