Theatre, live performance, whatever it is we do, is like a village square. To extend the metaphor – an open letter is a fortress. It conceptualizes its statement and works to create barriers – or castle walls – to any disagreement. I don’t want to come to your castle to be lectured at – it’s pointy and cold. I’d rather live in the village square. And the reason? Because there, we talk.
I grew up in a theatre that ignores people of colour, people with lived experience of disability and who live with labels or diagnoses. A theatre that minimizes or erases the narratives of people integral to the communities they call home. And then, for me, the hardest part of all: that despite 17 years of New Years resolutions, I still didn’t know how to be ‘good’.
The world has become a funnel. Unless we approach our work and thoughts like the hermetic Unabomber then we will constantly discover how un-special we are... So what is my brilliant friend to do when I know they are brilliant but they discover that they are not brilliant enough to be first?
As Annabel’s inquiry into water transmutes into an exposé of the deadlock we’ve reached between economic growth and environmental stewardship, it becomes clear that representing a range of viewpoints on this subject is going to be difficult, if not impossible. Both Annabel the writer and Annabel the character grapple with the devastating realization that whereas not all that long ago environmentalism was a bipartisan value, it has now become a divisive, even dirty word, in some circles.
This puts me in the awkward position of placing a goal on my artistic practice beyond ‘make good art.’ Awkward because art itself is not advocacy. To me, it becomes some other thing when the message is overt, the intention to persuade. Good art doesn’t tell people how to think or feel. It can invite us to think and feel for ourselves, into the darker corners, and past what we believe is possible. Like death, climate change is one of those big subjects that art can help us make emotional sense of, linking it to our own lives in a meaningful way.
It’s been 2 ½ years since PTC moved into its current site, and created a theatre centre out of an abandoned pork roastery in Vancouver’s Chinatown. We’ve tried to implement green policies through our transition to this space, and in every day operations. We couldn’t afford a lot of high-end eco-products, so we have taken the “reduce and reuse” principles of the three R’s to heart.