The following is a guest post from Natasha Williams of Balagula Theatre and Natasha’s Bistro.
I looked at the pages of freshly printed Chevy Chaser’s Arts Fall preview and thought of all the petitions I have signed in the last few months urging Congress not to cut Arts Funding. I imagine what we would stand to lose if it did.
No, the paper would not have come out with blank pages, but like “Earth without art is just ‘eh’ ” (a popular post among artsy folks on FB), Lexington without art would be…. well, not the place I would want to spend any time in.
Of course, art IS what I do. As an artistic co-director of one of Lexington’s most exciting theatres, I take pride in how our city is diversifying and refining its artistic palate. Just in the drama theatre category there are forty seven productions ranging from Children’s Theatre (one of the best in the nation) and college productions to the touring professional companies and professional quality local shows. Theatre arts are becoming an integral part of Lexington’s communal life.
Most of Lexington theatres, including the Balagula Theatre where I work, are non-profits. This status neither adds nor subtracts anything from the quality of our art. It only means that we are funded mostly by public money and corporate sponsorships. As such we are accountable not only to Thalia and Melpomene but to our community and its wishes and needs.
On September 9th the Balagula Theatre opens its Season 2012-13 with the production of “BUG” by Tracy Letts. Written in 1996 on the coattails of the Oklahoma bombing and clearly inspired by it, “Bug” remains amazingly relevant today as an unprecedented theatrical insight into the psychological nature of conspiracy theories and their effect on ordinary people The play touches on many themes from love, motherhood, loneliness and grief, to concerns of unlimited power over an individual that can be exercised by a corrupt government equipped with modern technological capabilities. It raises a question of the nature of society we live in, the society that provided the facts that become building blocks of the characters’ delusions.
As I marvel at the cleverly constructed set and watch breathtakingly involved drama as it unravels on stage in the last dress rehearsals before we open, I think of what are we bringing to our fellow Lexingtonians and why. How is it relevant to this complex colorful community of ours? What questions and what answers will our audiences carry home? Will they recognize in themselves the signs of collective delusional paranoia that comes over us in waves of the election seasons? Will they shake their heads at our distrust of technology and dangers of building all- explanatory theories out of bricks of random facts glued together with sketchy logic? Will they, moved by compassion towards the two lonely people who find their demise in their isolation, leave the theatre inspired to reach out into the community we live in? And most importantly, will they be moved by witnessing the lives of their fellow human beings and become kinder and more forgiving towards each other?
Photos of BUG in production: http://www.flickr.com/photos/