We saw two plays this week. One was the tippity-top of Broadway shows, complete with a stellar cast and top notch production values in a 2200-seat theater with state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and set design. The other was a local production with local actors of a classic comedy in a 90-seat theater without state-of-the-art anything.
One is the culmination of the best work that hundreds of people can bring to a blockbuster theater project. The other is an underfunded labor of love. I value both equally.
As a writer, experiencing topnotch storytelling by other people is part of the gig. Movies, art, books. It’s inspiring, and informative. Especially when it’s so good that I can be a member of the audience and only later get out my toolbox and start picking away at how it did what it did.
But I’m just as happy that I saw our town’s summer season theater production too. It was full of energy. They chose a great, well-known comedy: Born Yesterday. The performances were competent, and often quite a bit more than that.
A seat in the fourth (and back) row meant that a mere twenty feet away from me were a half-dozen people arting their hearts out. Sharing their passion and joy in their work. For the love of it.
I’m not saying that everyone responsible for Hamilton every day doesn’t love what they’re doing. It’s that fame and success are a kind of filter, for me, and that filter changes the energy and expectations – ultimately, it’s a different experience.
Real people, in the place where I live, doing something for the love of it.
Seeing love in action is definitely a balance for these times we’re living through. And a cure for the isolation and energy drain that a solitary writing career creates.
Look around, look around. People all around you are arting their hearts out, showing just how much they love something.
Go out, take joy in it.
Then go back to arting your own heart out onto the page.