AD World: Theater in the Trump Era

Borrowing from the great American Theatre Magazine, Motif reached out to several artistic directors in the area to get their response to the current political climate and how they see that impacting the work they do. Here are their responses.
From Theodore Clement, Artistic Director, Counter Productions Theatre Company
It’s inevitable that the art we create will be directly affected by the current political landscape. We choose material that speaks to us, and the way that we express these choices will always be seen through the lens of the social and political events that are spinning around us. I hope that we, as art makers, will help to serve as a light source in what seems like some pretty dark approaching times.”
From Kira Hawkridge, Artistic Director, Out Loud Theatre
“It is a crucial time for artists. It has become clear to our ensemble that we don’t want to simply be a reflection of the current political climate, but that we want to engage with it, wrestle with it, chew on it, challenge it. We want to explore the world and the people that inhabit it and break down the walls between life and art — the illusion on stage versus reality as we know it. That wall has been fairly thin for OUT LOUD, but now more than ever, we want to crash on through.”
From Tony Estrella, Artistic Director of The GAMM Theatre
Shakespeare as ever, is a place to go for wisdom, dignity and solace. In Hamlet, he famously has the melancholy Prince, with more than a bit of unearned hubris, lecture a group of actors on the nature and purpose of their art. He tells them:
“…o’erstep not the modesty of nature for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”
We are facing many political unknowns. If the post-election climate is any indication, the “very age and body of the time” seems to be shifting dramatically and we may be looking at a socially tumultuous and divisive 2017 and beyond. At The Gamm, we have tried to produce plays that resonate as culturally and politically in the moment as possible. I trust that will continue, though I hope we can do so without overstating the obvious nor patting ourselves too often on the back for being on the right (or left) side of things. We must always beware self-righteousness which is at best ineffective, and at worst boring. As Shakepeare says, “Anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing.”
That said, we must also try to avoid falling victim to a glib, warm and fuzzy, superficial, kumbaya-let’s-all-come-together approach. Sometimes we can’t and shouldn’t all come together. Many ideas and the people who espouse them are distinctly odious and reprehensible. They need not be given any legitimate credence nor respect, but instead must be called out and reckoned with. In other words, artists in all forms must hold them up before the mirror while bearing in mind that warts and all, we are part of that reflected image as well.
I agree with Peter Hall that the theater is one of the last places society can go to hold a “debate with itself.”  So, whatever may lie ahead, I hope we at The Gamm can help keep that debate alive.”

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