I am proud to be a member of the theatre community. On broadway last night we celebrated not only the work of great artists reaching to the height of their creative capacity but we celebrated the expansion of the capacity of humanity to live and create and explore on this planet in peaceful community, respect and celebration of our immense and beautiful diversity.
It is not ironic but sadly, in the times in which we live, horrifically appropriate that the Tony’s this particular year with the particular productions of the season occurred the very night of the terrorist shooting in Orlando. Because what it does is juxtapose the choice we have to make.
As Frank Langella quoted in his acceptance speech, when things such as this occur it either defines us, defeats us or makes us stronger. However, it is impossible to become stronger if we do not know who we want to be. And the arts allow us to see deeply into that question. To bravely and courageously open doors that in other avenues of life we may not be encouraged to open. And once we step into those rooms we find ourselves facing ‘the other’ armed with the capacity to know that they are us. Because they are human beings with stories to tell, hearts to open, eyes to see and ears to listen. And this is what a life engaged, or touched by the arts gives us. The tools for empathy. The tools for sanity. The tools for peacefully abiding together. The tools for knowing who we want to be.
We must be strong. And we must acknowledge that we are at a crux of human history where we have a choice to make. We now must consciously work to counter all the violence, all the hatred, all the inhumanity, all the cruelty, all the waste that is occurring in this world. That is our job. We have no other.
If you sat still enough – even while watching the screen of the television – to feel the energy, the joy and yes Love present in the Beacon Theatre last night; if you listened to the testimonies given to community, to faith, to acceptance, to respect, to partnership, to collaboration, to individual growth, to compassion, leadership, responsibility — then you would know those are the elements due to all of us. In the Beacon Theatre existed a model for our future. Just as at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando existed another type of model.
The choice is laid out. But the question remains. Who do we want to be? Those who join the community of the Beacon Theatre and expand in numbers so great that no physical space could hold us or those who live in fear as victims and perpetrators in an ongoing cycle of violence and hatred horrifically lived out at the Pulse? In Syria. In Israel. In Somalia. In Libya. In Afghanistan. . .
There will be a call to arms in these days. It has, of course, already begun. I have written before about the bravery required by us in these moments. I believe that the values of theatre assist in confronting the human condition. What I saw tonight on the Tony’s is an army with the true weaponry to save humanity.