by third planet living
First, before anything else, I’d like to tip my forty to the memory of Estelle Getty, who passed on last Tuesday, July 22. This woman has made me belly laugh for years and years, and was a powerful member of the theatre community; a true champion of the underdog. Estelle… thanks for the good times. You will live on in my heart…. and in my collection of Golden Girls DVD’s.
Now onto the matter at hand.
What is a community?
In ecology it is defined as a group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other.
Sounds like theatre to me.
In theatre, we are all interdependent organisms… a playwright needs a theatre needs designers need producers need directors need a playwright needs an audience needs a theatre and so on. Interdependent. One cannot exist without the other. When even one element is missing or weakened, the imbalance undermines the integrity of the entire community.
To me, that means it’s our job to look after one another, applying the wisdom that the health of one of us is the health of us all. This includes standing up for injustice and helping each other maintain the highest level of integrity, so that we might keep working together, supporting each other, and growing as a community.
It’s here where it gets tricky, because we have to agree upon where we’re growing. Which involves addressing function.
Like any organism, I think our main function is to simply… stay alive. Our sunlight food and water is cold hard cash. Money to pay artists, rent playing space, find our audience, etc. But since we’re human beings, our needs extend WAY beyond these basics.
Our deeper function might be to develop artists, to be a meeting place for the larger community, to educate, enlighten and entertain. All of these elements are significant, and each theatre assigns them a different order of importance. But again, looking more deeply, people are the root of all of these functions. And people need support. We need the feeling of community, not simply the structure itself. We need folks to have our backs and guide us, to get us pumped and excited about our work; so we can go on to do the necessary but sometimes not-so-fun work of running a successful business.
In short, we need our peeps. And if one of our peeps is at odds with another, we need to determine our priorities and act in a way that supports our ideals.
I’m grateful to be around a group of badasses who do this and do it well.
“No matter how you seem to fatten on a crime, there can never be good for the bee which is bad for the hive.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson