I spent this afternoon participating in a theatre workshop - a glorious few hours barefoot on the grass playing theatre games that will be used in an upcoming student theatre program. The participants were an inspiring collection of women, some theatre students, some involved in the arts, some linked to education, some linked to play. But talking to them afterwards I kept hearing a similar theme: parents who questioned the decision to pursue theatre as a career; of dealing with potential financial backers who shrug disparagingly and say things like - With all the problems in the country why are you wasting time on play? Go put your energies into something useful like malaria.
How can you possibly justify being an artist when there are starving babies in the world?Over the years I have watched many young adults explore the world of theatre. No babies were saved in the making of a single show, but during the course of each production I watched those involved grow in confidence. I watched them discover strengths and skills they never knew existed. They learned team work, how to think on their feet, how to create something out of nothing. They learned that not taking yourself too seriously can be a way to earn someone's respect. That being vulnerable and exposed in front of hundreds of people can leave you feeling invincible. They learned to put themselves in someone else's shoes; to explore what it means to be old or young, a man or a woman, rich or poor.
And most importantly I've watched young people find their voices; discovering the power of their actions and words. And we need those voices, because every society needs story tellers; whether they're actors, painters, photographers, musicians, designers, the list goes on, they all tell a story with their work. Our creativity is a commentary on the way the world is. We hold up a mirror to what goes on around us in order to reveal or inform, shock or inspire, to uplift or question.
So no, this workshop won't feed any babies, or kill any mosquitoes, but that doesn't mean it won't change the world.
photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net