I believe that everything begins inside of us. A beginning of a theatre company is a soft whisper in the back of the heart saying “Why not?” The whisper turns to a roar eventually until the first gathering of the first reading of the first play and then changes to a whisper of “Yes, this.”
The whisper in my heart right now is saying “Peace.” Just that. Peace for my soul’s ease, for the world, for every pissed off driver, every terrorist, every single person, every thought we can squeeze through the pain of it all.
Does art make a difference? Can a theatre company do that? Some would say that we should know by how many folks show up for our plays. Maybe. But maybe you want to come but can’t. Life is hard, there are no babysitters, you don’t have the heart for it, it’s cold out there and you’d rather sit by the fire, it’s cheaper to go to a movie, you feel your money is better spent on causes that help people in a direct visceral way – hell, I don’t know.
Mother Road has had a few rough years, though I’m not sure it was obvious to all. No home, audience trying to find us, us trying to find money, people leaving, actors unhappy, me unhappy, the board struggling. This past year the whisper in my heart has been “How? How much longer? Can I keep doing this? Should I?” Sometimes I feel that as a theatre company we wave our hands in the air and say “Pick me, pick me!” and then cross our fingers that you do, until eventually that is our focus, and not the work. If we do that we lose our voice, or else our voice becomes small and weak, not vibrant with joy, with passion and with truth.
Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting all this but if I’m not willing to put it all out there with honesty, how can I ask any actor that steps on our stage to do the same? How can we as a company ask you to listen to us, listen to our voice, if we aren’t speaking truthfully?
As an artist - and it took me a long time to call myself that - I feel, as other artists do, the unique position we are in. We can’t solve the world’s problems through our art; we have a hard enough time surviving. We can though, if we try really, really hard through our work, send a whisper to someone’s heart that they may or may not hear, or that may turn into a roar until they change their thought, which may lead them to action, which may give them ease as their heart whispers “Yes, this.”
I’m feeling grateful and thankful this holiday because I realized: I chose this. I choose it every day and will continue to do so despite the hard times, the doubtful times. I’ve been going to rehearsals this past month and listening to the words of men who chose peace in the middle of a hellish war. I chose the stories Mother Road is telling this year because I truly believe that Love Wins, it always will, and that is a very good story to tell.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I am blessed to be an artistic director of a theatre in its 8th season. I am blessed to be surrounded by the folks that keep Mother Road alive. We have rebooted the company, and poured life, love and a huge dose of passion and integrity into our storytelling. Look for a new mission statement in the near future.
I am proud to list the names of the newly minted “Ever Luvin’ Muthas:”
Pip Lustgarten, Amy Bourque, Mark Frederick, Christopher Hall, Jen Stephenson, JB Tuttle, Kelly O’Keefe, Kesley Ann O’Keefe, Chris Gonzales, Cyn Cisneros, William R. Stafford and founders Kristín Hansen and Vic Browder.
I am also very proud of our small but mighty board: George Richmond, Elyse Eckart, Randy Lunsford, Debbie Harms and William R. Stafford.
Thank you, to all of you who take the time to reach out to Mother Road or me with words of encouragement. It means everything during the doubtful times…
All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 opens next week. It is our co-production with the Vortex, and directed by Yours Truly. This is the kind of storytelling I love doing. Voices raised in song - so beautiful it just may pierce your heart - just a little, maybe just enough…
On the road again, Indeed.
Mother Road Theatre Company
Join us for our “Love Wins” Season.