What If?

What If?
What If?- our Musical Concert series at La MaMa E.T.C. - www.BriannaLaRoccoPhotography.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why I Do What I Do

Why I Do What I Do by Ariana Paganetti, Projects Manager, Mind The Art Entertainment, Oct 11th, 2011

I am reminded everyday why I do what I do. I have to tell you. I would be alright with a little less reminders. Today I read an article about a young man who took his own life due to cyber bullying. This bullying was in relation to his sexual orientation. In the past two weeks he is the fifth human being between the ages of 13 and 18 who has decided to take his own life due to homosexual related bullying in the United States alone. I am heartbroken for these young men and those that loved them. I am even more heartbroken for our society. These five deaths are tragic, but every day another five children think they are all alone in this world and have no other option. Every day someone hears a word that defines who they are attached with a negative connotation. It doesn't matter what you believe, or whose side of the debate you are on, no one should feel like their existence isn't valid.

There are times when I struggle with my decisions in life. I chose a life in the arts, more often in social theatre, and sometimes that makes life a little more unconventional and difficult. I began my day this morning feeling financially and creatively dejected, and then I read this article. I was inflamed with active anger, and passion and a need to stand up. I believe that theatre can elicit change. If not change in action, at least a change in thought. If not a change in thought, at least a change in perspective. If not in a change of perspective at least it provides that opportunity.

When our modern society began, theatre was a venue for community forum. It was where the ancient Greeks discussed politics, community leaders, fiscal and industrialized change and the effects of various human emotions on the basic fabric of society. We haven't strayed to far from that original goal, but the message has changed. We now live in a world where entertainment and information is instantaneously available. Our entertainment is universally open for everyone and anyone to create and distribute. This is a wonderful thing, it can help in sparking the necessary conversations, but at the risk of sounding cliche a brilliant man once wrote that "with great power comes great responsibility." We have given our children, ourselves this amazing power but we haven't taught the lessons.

We have forgotten that there are people involved in these conversations. We look at our little silver boxes,our hand held communication meccas and feel detached. Anything we do on this technology is null and void of consequences. We have taken the humanity out of art. We have replaced humanity with a scary sense of invincibility. The result of which is bullying that can reach the world in the beat of a heart. Instead of using this technology to make art more readily available, we have made hate more readily available.

I am aware that there are artists out there trying to change this. I am not saying that technology is bad for art, in fact I think multi-media is one of the most exciting aspects to modern theatre. My friends at Better Left Unsaid are wonderful examples of using life stream media effectively in theatre. I see them using technology to engage an audience in a conversation. We need to teach our children this. We need to talk to them. They have forgotten to talk to each other.

Proposition 8 is shaping my generation. It is our call to arms. It is one of the final unprotected human rights. I feel that gay marriage should be legal, but that isn't the point here. Healthy debate is what charges this country. Needing to fight and struggle for something is what gives us as human beings the drive to change something. It is our medicine for apathy. I do not tolerate hate though. I have heard people tell me that homosexuality is socially acceptable now, yet I hear tales about teens being disowned, beaten and mocked. Not every homosexual male likes to dress like a woman. Not every heterosexual male doesn't. There is no excuse for making someone feel like their right to a lifestyle or privacy is null. This is why I will continue to hold a mirror up to ourselves. This is why we need a catalyst that can compete with YouTube and MTV to spark conversation. We need to get our youth talking to each other.

Our society is quickly blurring the line between reality and virtual reality. The ability to determine consequences and actual human emotional responses is quickly fading in our youth. For anyone who thinks the issues of coming out and sexual orientation is a thing of the past needs to be informed. As more people live on their own, and the concept of "community" dwindles before our eyes, we as artists need to continue our work creating opportunities for a forum.

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