I am hurting, as I'm sure a lot of you are as well, by the recent tragic death of George Floyd, whose name is added to a growing list of victims of police brutality that include Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other victims.
Let's be clear: this is not new. Violence and mistreatment against black bodies have been happening for centuries. This is not one isolated moment in history. What IS happening is that it is being documented. What IS happening is awareness.
I stand with you.
I commit to listening and holding space.
I commit to using my voice and privilege to stand up for racial equality.
I applaud those who are taking to the streets in protest and making their voices heard. Change begins with action, and because of this, I have compiled some resources and action steps. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Many of you have resources that should be on this list. Please let me know, and I'll gladly add them:
Dominic Taylor, the acting chair at UCLA, sent out a moving email to the theatre faculty. I asked his permission to share it with you all.
As an African American man, he can, obviously, speak to this in a way that I cannot. Also, as a cisgendered, heterosexual white woman, my voice has been heard plenty. Now is a time to listen.
We are at the end of the quarter but at the beginning of a new unknown terrain. The murder of George Floyd has caused the euphemism that we have been using for two months – "Alone- Together" to be placed in sharp relief. For many of us, the realization that together does not mean the same thing for all Americans has been shocking and unsettling. The simple fact that we, as a nation, watched the death of a man, at the hands of a law enforcement authority figure, made us refigure what we knew.
We are theatre practitioners and engagers. I often tell my students that the etymology for theatre is from the Greek Theatron. It means to view or see. (It can also mean viewing place or seeing place.) I also ask them the question early on, do we all see the same thing. If they learn nothing else from me, they know that the answer is no. They also know that what I try to do as a theatre artist is to frame the questions so that we can all examine something through the same prism. We might not see the same thing, but the framed question should be consistent.
The question that we have asked ourselves again is: who/what are we as a country? If we train those to “serve and protect” us that they can destroy a Black body with impunity, who/what are we as a country?
If a white woman in New York City believes that the police force is used as a system for the removal of Black bodies, who/what are we as a country?
If the media never shows us the thousands of peaceful protests that have gone on throughout the country, who/what are we as a country?
If we have people who are justifiably frustrated and determine that the only mechanism to exhibit their collective frustration is to destroy property in their own communities (for the most part), who/what are we as a country?
If people think that robbing a Patagonia is an act of civil disobedience comparable to sitting at a segregated lunch counter in the 1950s, who/what are we as a country?
I could go on, but I wanted to leave you all with my usually obvious points to consider for our final teaching week.
• We (students, faculty and staff) might be dealing with a new series of feelings and emotions as the stressors have added a new element. Be aware of this with grading going forward. Some students might not be able to finish their final project on-time. Make exceptions when you can. These are hyper stressful times.
•The sting of unemployment or under-employment is getting more acute for our families. Our families have had two months now, and things are starting to get tighter. Additionally, there seems to be no clear economic answer on the horizon.
• Take a moment and Draw Yourself. In the New York Times – At Home section in Sunday, there was an exercise to draw a self-portrait. All you needed was a mirror and a pencil. It was really calming for me on Sunday.
I do not want you all to feel at a loss. We are people whose mission is to help people "see." I think we often hold onto bromides and we don't acknowledge that we are doing good work. Nevertheless, it is WORK. President Obama used to quote Dr. King's line "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” This adage gave the impression that the moral universe was a free-standing agent turning without the diligent work of all of us.
King gave us a paraphrase from Theodore Parker, an abolitionist minister who delivered a sermon in 1853. He said:
“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”
I agree with the good minister. I will not let the moral universe operate without my direct and forceful input. Forgive me as I mix my metaphors but, as long as I have breath in my body, I will keep my shoulder to the wheel pushing as hard as I can to move that moral arc towards what is right.
Everyone reading this, I know, is doing in his/her/their way the same diligent work demanding that the moral universe moves in the proper direction. Your work has not been in vain, but we must keep working.
Godspeed to all,
The ACTIVE ACTOR
You are probably wondering this blog is about. Well, it's about anything that everything that I find inspiring, helpful, and curiosity building.
Curiosity is my favorite state of being, and I've become a treasure hunter and a trash hoarder, collecting all sorts of articles, artwork, and accessories that fuel my inspiration and creativity.
This will also be a place for me to document my life as an actor and coach in Los Angeles. If performing is your passion, I hope that this blog becomes a place for you to learn from my mistakes, grow from my accomplishments, laugh at my witless choices, and share in this crazy, unpredictable, beautiful, life in the arts.