Take a Look Around

I'm watching the Democratic Presidential debate on CNN (I'm a total junkie for this stuff) and the electricity in that theatre is amazing. Such passion! Such intensity! I read recently that the turnout for the Democratic primaries has been at least double the size of 2004 and 2000 in every state so far, sometimes even bigger.

As the song says, something's comin', I don't know when, but it's soon...

I think political theatre is always important -- which is why New Line does so much of it, why we're working on Assassins now, and why we're doing Hair in the fall. But if there was ever any doubt, I think it's obvious that, at least in 2008, we are in the center of a nation just itching to talk seriously about the great issues of our times. And if we don't meet that demand, we're idiots.

New Line is organizaing the second St. Louis Political Theatre Festival for this fall, leading up to election day. Our production of Hair will be part of that, closing just a few days before the election. I'm more convinced now than ever that this is a great idea. Americans are engaged like never before, and we owe our audiences good, juicy, intelligent, political theatre.

I reject the notion that people go to the theatre to escape -- I've never believed it and I never will -- and I fully embrace the notion that we are the shamans of our tribe. We are the ones chosen to tell our stories, to document our civilization and our history, to make sense of our world, to start conversations about everything that matters in our lives. Shamans are the intermediaries between the natural world and the spiritual world, and I can't imagine a better definition of a theatre artist.

No one who makes theatre can miss this golden opportunity, when our nation is at a crossroads and we have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a profound, concrete difference. Art matters, and we make art.

That's what I think, anyway.

Long Live the Musical!