I can’t say I really totally dig writing program notes. I suppose I don’t mind the generic ones, welcoming people to the season or asking folks to join our annual campaign or become season ticket holders blah blah. I don’t even really mind the ones that end up as reflective pieces on the process where I say nice things about the actors and the script.
What I usually dislike is when I have to write one for a show like our next one. Maybe I’m just a little intimidated. One, I practically a fanboy for Dario Fo. What he’s done in his career and life are really inspiring to me. Two, to be blunt the play deals with a lot of real sh*t. Stuff I feel pretty strongly about. Stuff that I have to be careful of how I relay to the public.
I have to mete out all that stuff with what people are going to respond to or more accurately what won’t turn them off. Technically as a not for profit we’re not supposed to be campaigning for or against specific parties or individuals which is largely ok – it’s not like I even belong to a political party or often take up a particular person’s campaign. I also know for the most part that I probably don’t have a lot of hardline GOP wingnuts buying tickets to my shows. Even if I do know a few pretty conservative local pols who come out from time to time.
My trying to find that balance doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of opinions, and it doesn’t mean that my ass isn’t chapped a lot most of the time. But, vinegar and honey and all that – right? So I have a challenge – have my opinion in as general a way as possible without turning too many off from the get-go and hope that the work speaks for itself. I’d rather the work itself work subversively as folks watch a show and after they leave and have time to think than coming after folks in a note they’ll read before the show starts and have them shut down on me. The play speaks for itself, right, there’s not a huge need for me to embellish it with some manifesto. Those who really wanna sit around and rail against the man can join me off the clock at The Hub or New World.
I dillied and dallied a lot on this one, and I won’t say I’m crazy about it but the publications person was practically over my shoulder waiting for it since I was already past deadline. Here goes:
I don’t know what it’s like to be truly starving, or to be concerned about where my next meal is coming from or how I’ll pay for it. Even as a ‘poor’ college student there was always a way to find free food or mooch a meal. I do know well though what it’s like to be hungry, and not just for sustenance. For respect, for dignity, for progress. I also know what it’s like to feel shackled by taxes, inflation, diminishing employee benefits and working for substandard wages.
Gas is $3 a gallon. It could hit $5 by summer. If you really want to get angry, look up what oil companies take from that $3 and how much of that is tax. Our President has a 32% approval, 46 million Americans are without any form of health care, people are losing benefits quicker than you can say “golden parachute” and I could be paying into a Social Security system that may not be there when I retire. In 2005, the average worker’s raise didn’t even cover the rate of inflation, while CEO pay rose 27% nationwide. In Hillsborough County it was reported that our poorest residents are spending the majority of their income just on housing. I guess I’m not surprised when I hear “affordable housing” with a $175k price tag on it. Everywhere I look it appears the middle class is getting squeezed out, and the line between the haves and have-nots gets thicker and thicker.
Never let it be said that I don’t love this country. I’m grateful for the freedoms I have and the opportunities that have been afforded to me. That doesn’t mean the system’s perfect. If we can, as a society, give real issues as much time and energy as we do the garbage gossip of the day, maybe we’d see some progress. People have a limit, and I wonder every day how much more it’ll take before we wake up.
We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! is a rather loony illustration of what happens when people hit their limit. Despite all my socially-responsible mumbo-jumbo, I really just want is for you all to enjoy yourselves and laugh tonight. As Chaplin said, ”Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” – David Jenkins