The Fairy Princess is still trying to make sense of this most recent of National Elections, so she has been sitting at home in a pantsuit eating leftover Halloween candy – obviously very productive.
She does not want to accept the bigotry and racism and sexism that caused people to vote against their own interests (Unless you happen to be the 1%), the environment, education and basically, people of minority status.
She has already had two friends, in Coast cities, confronted by supporters of the Great Hate Pumpkin, and that is two friends too many for her to stomach.
She could go on and on, but she is going to do something else here – she is going to reach out to a bunch of kids that wish to do a play in their home community of Blue Hill.
In Nebraska. Blue Hill, Nebraska – population 986.
You see, the kids of Blue Hill’s High School have been working on The Laramie Project, which is set to be performed this coming weekend – and well…as a result of the election, and because the Great Hate Pumpkin has not asked his supporters to tone down acts of violence and confrontation – these kids are being ‘asked‘ (and one assumes not politely) by some, to cancel their show that is based on the murder of Matthew Shepard by two disenfranchised white young men in Laramie, Wyoming.
Matthew was killed because he was Gay. He was beaten, robbed, and then driven to a deserted area, strung up on a fence and left to die.
His story has a resounding message for today.
TFP, as many know – does not back down from a fight. She does not. It makes her many things, a nasty woman?
This is what she wants to say to the people of Blue Hill and to the kids in the show.
(TFP hates ‘open letters’, so we shall forgo the “Dear Blah Blah Blah’. Open letters are as much a pox on our houses as anything else. TFP thinks – just write what you mean, so that is what she is going to do.)
Art can do many things in the world that acts of violence and rhetoric can not.
Art can lift people up. It can help them have empathy for those around them – whether those around them who need compassion are dealing with issues stemming from age, or unemployment, or lack of opportunity, or racism, or sexism, or disability, or LGBTQ discrimination, or either physical or sexual abuse – ART can help.
It can show people in the audience – whether in an art gallery, a museum, a symphony space – what it feels like to have another point of view – even if just for a moment. Art leaves people with emotions they did not know they had
In fact it is good to remember here that when civilizations have passed, what we the inheritors of the earth learn and identify those civilizations by, in fact – is the Art.
Great writers tell us stories of history and legend, and we are the better for it.
Great Painters and Sculptors ‘show us’ the world of their time, and we revel in the view of this looking glass through time.
Great Composers leave us their works for hundreds of years, so that we may viscerally feel what they felt and heard. Folk Artists pass along themes meant for simpler moments, quiet moments some of which have simply traveled through individuals over the course of eons.
Great Artisans show us through their crafts, as clearly as a photograph sometimes, how people lived and what they relied upon to make their lives bearable.
Art is what makes life bearable.
You cannot control what other people think, or how they vote, or what is in their heart – but when you share Art that comes from your soul – in this case, a play that you have all worked on diligently – you can show them what is in YOUR heart.
You can show them the purity of the message of The Laramie Project – that turning your head away from bearing witness to evil is the wrong thing to do. That ordinary people can make extraordinary choices to pull us all together when hatred tries to rip us all apart.
You can show them that no one should be scared to be who they are or fear getting killed for it.
You can show them that tolerance, one of the most basic tenants of any religion, is the way forward to healing any divide.
Now, one should know that TFP has a personal connection to this piece, of sorts – other than having seen it and being a part of the Broadway community etc, etc, etc.
TFP worked with The Matthew Shepard Foundation for several years, helping them obtain ‘fancy’ items for their annual fundraiser. She has met Mrs. Shepard and talked with her, she helped get TMS foundation to endorse a film she was an Associate Producer on – The Sensei.
Not only is she more than familiar with this theater piece, this theater piece inspired her to help. Much as Matthew’s story inspired The Sensei‘s Writer/Director, D. Lee Inosanto to create the film.
That is what theater does. That is what Art does. It gives inspiration.
The kids of Blue Hill have TFP‘s complete support and admiration for tackling a show of this nature in High School – that they want to do this show, want to explore these themes means that the Parents and Teachers of Blue Hill are raising extraordinary people.
Why let a few disgruntled people ruin the creation put together by these very compassionate and thinking leaders of tomorrow?
Artists – they put themselves ‘out there’ with their work, and push back happens – so even as these High School Students experience the joy of performing, they enter the pantheon of those attacked for free thought, and they should take comfort in knowing that they are not the first to have been berated, nor will they be the last.
TFP trusts that the good people of Blue Hill will stand behind their students, their very extraordinary students at this time. She knows that all Parents, all Educators only want what is best for ‘their’ kids – and what is best is that they grow, not only in height, but in dignity, in compassion, and artistry.
Break A Leg, oh Students of Blue Hill – the Broadway Community supports you and your choices – and we cannot wait to meet the people you are on your way to becoming in the future.
Students of Blue Hill – Places, please.