When the whole world seems nuts–when every morning we wake to some bit of news that causes us to shake our heads and mutter “What the f**k are they thinking??”–the arts become even more essential than they are in more normal times.
(And they’re pretty darn essential in normal times. Assuming there really are normal times, rather than times that are simply a bit less harrowing than others.)
I share this bit of non-wisdom as an introduction to a new theater venture in Indianapolis, where I live.
Indianapolis is already home to a thriving arts community, including performing arts; this new theater company (full disclosure: I have joined its Board of Directors) will add a distinctive perspective–a feminist point of view.
Summit Performance Indianapolis was established by two supremely talented young women who are determined to produce top quality theatre exploring the lives and experiences of women.
Summit’s focus is threefold: to employ women of diverse backgrounds as playwrights, theatrical designers, artisans, actors, and staff; to create high quality theatre productions centered on social issues of the moment; and to use these productions as springboards to inspire an ongoing dialogue about those issues in the Indianapolis community through performance talk-backs, guest speakers, and town hall discussions.
The company will be housed in the Phoenix Theatre’s brand new, state-of-the-art facility on the Glick Peace Walk (a key stretch of the city’s widely-lauded Cultural Trail). Its two founders are among central Indiana’s most experienced theatre artists: Georgeanna Smith Wade and Lauren Briggeman. Its goals are lofty: Summit Performance Indianapolis not only aspires to be a pillar of quality entertainment and a cultural hub, but also, in the wake of #metoo and #timesup, to serve as a necessary forum for women’s voices.
If you are curious, you can find more information on the theater’s Facebook Page.
Tumultuous times tend to produce new, exploratory arts outlets. Whether that art is visual, musical or theatrical, it satisfies a very human need to engage with the social changes we are experiencing, and to understand the disruption that comes with the uprooting of the tried and true. The arts are a way we come to terms with the ever-changing world we inhabit; they help us recognize the truths and passions of others–and perhaps more importantly, of ourselves.
At some point–assuming our insane “Commander in Chief” doesn’t start a nuclear war–Americans will become more comfortable with the reality that women and men are just human beings with different plumbing, who should be seen as the individuals we are. Women’s voices, after all, are human voices, some pathetic, some strong, some profound, some wise, some not.
Until very recently, social structures have ensured that females of the species would have very different life experiences than their male peers. Theater is an ideal place to explore those differences and remind us all that–in the wider scheme of things–they were imposed upon humans whose actual differences are pretty superficial. Theater is a place to listen to, and learn from each other–and to internalize those messages.
It will be fascinating to see how Summit Performance develops. To those of you in Central Indiana, I say–stay tuned!