“The medium which has the power to do that is the Modern Drama, because it mirrors every phase of life and embraces every strata of society …. It is the dynamite which undermines superstition, shakes the social pillars, and prepares men and women for the reconstruction.”
-Emma Goldman from ‘The Social Significance of the Modern Drama’
A good friend of mine sent me this quote and I’ve been reflecting on it a lot lately. Although Emma Goldman was a famous anarchist of the early 20th century and this quote is referring more to anarchy than theater, it rings true in my theater-loving (well, performing arts-loving) heart. Whether it is a hilarious and touching play, a beautifully orchestrated opera, a cheeky comedian doing standup at the bar, or a humble singer-songwriter playing their heart out, performing for an audience is a courageous and magical thing. Although a fantastic world where people are born green and animals talk is whimsical, the story of friendship and courage is something all people can relate to.
It got me thinking— Why do I like theater? Why do I enjoy performing arts?
As a chronically anxious human, I look to those on the stage with awe and admiration. It is inspiring to see people courageously tossing caution to the wind and just DOING IT. I admire their brave, brave hearts. On that stage, they are truly vulnerable. I’ve talked with both professional, and ‘non’professional performers about anxiety. No matter how much practice and experience you have, there is always a level performance anxiety. Unfortunately, it is a universal concept. Performers act through the anxiety. They sing through it. They dance through it. How? Because it truly makes them happy. The joy it brings to share their passions with others overpowers that little voice in their heads saying “you can’t.” It’s a powerful thing. They are strong. If other people can do it,
maybe I can too.
When I go to the theater, my mind goes to another place. For me, enjoying performing art is like an escape from daily stressors and anxieties. It’s like running (yuck) or yoga (yum). I am transfixed by everything the performers are throwing at me— vulnerability, talent, passion, love, excitement, and joy. For a brief moment in time, I am transported to their world. My reality is put on pause for a sec. I wonder if people do that when I sing? I know the idea of an escape kind of contradicts the first point of this post, but it is an important one make.
I apologize for the stream of consciousness blog. Or maybe, I don’t apologize at all. This is where I am right now. I want to get more into the music and performing arts scene in Portland. I’m off to sign up for a Jazz 101 dance class. NO, I’M NOT TOO AWKWARD AND CLUMSY FOR DANCE; I’M AWESOME.* 💃
See you on the stage?
*fake it till you make it, right?
#nowplaying Everyone Is Gay (except for me) - Bess Rogers