Thursday, September 6, 2007
Does what we do matter?
Seems to me we in these latter daze of theater, we often speak disparagingly of our own field. Perhaps "disparaging" is too strong -- let's say we're meekly self-deprecating. "It's not rocket science," someone will say, or "it's only theater," indicating that drama queens should calm the hell down because it's not important. "We're not solving world hunger here," etcetcetc.
But it does matter -- content matters, sure, but so does the act of writing and the fact that we as human beings wish to express ourselves in this way. It doesn't just affect the reader or the audience; it changes us most of all.
Anyhow. Perusing the website of legendary Powell's Bookstore today, I was poring over an essay by David Bornstein in which he writes about writing in just this way. Hired to coach disadvantaged students on how to describe themselves on college application forms, the job gradually morphed from a chore to an epiphany as he witnessed the act of writing reveal the students to themselves.
Actually Mr. B's essay describes the experience as a bellwether for the way we can make a difference in the world, so ultimately it's not "about" writing, but rather about our power to effect change. Nevertheless, it was ratifying for this struggling scribbler.