We enter the holiday season during an unsettled time in our nation’s history. The divisive and hostile rhetoric that characterized the presidential campaign has given way to a presidential transition that suggests there may be no letting up on language and policy that will further fracture the nation, escalate global tensions, and continue to put lives at risk. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported more than 700 acts of hateful harassment since the election, often in the name and in support of the President-elect. While we know this is not new, and that marginalized communities have long faced violence and exclusion, the mainstreaming of hate groups and normalization of hate speech at the highest levels of government feels unprecedented, leaving us profoundly uncertain about what is yet to come.
Still, in the midst of this, we have hope. We have hope because we are a theatre community whose work has the power to humanize difference, transport audiences, and heal communities—all of which will be needed now more than ever. We have hope because our network of theatres, at their best, serve as town halls for rural and urban communities, in red and blue states, welcoming a diverse set of personal and political identities into a shared experience. We have hope remembering the profound resilience of theatres of color and other social justice arts organizations who have been doing this work for generations. We have hope because we’ve seen a growing movement of theatres and practitioners committed to working in solidarity to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion at the personal, organizational, and field-wide levels. We have hope because we know that through our advocacy efforts, we have made friends on both sides of the Congressional aisle. We have hope because the global relationships we have built over time will allow us to stay authentically connected with our colleagues in other countries. They too are part of a theatre nation that transcends geopolitical borders.
We also know that we’ll need to take care. We’ll need to take care to hold each other accountable for staying conscious and conscientious. We’ll need to take care that we don’t inadvertently accept or replicate new systems of injustice. And we’ll need to take care of each other.
As Danai Gurira queried in her powerful remarks at TCG’s gala on Nov. 14, “How will we be remembered as a theatre community?” We have the opportunity and perhaps even the responsibility to ask this question every day.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any ideas you have or support you need. We’re here for you, and as committed as ever to bringing about that better world for theatre, and better world because of theatre.