We Are Connected

by Michael S. Eddy

This month it is all about connections. Connections to each other as theater artists, between each other as citizens, between today and history, between ourselves and our experiences. We all are aware that to work well with others in theater, we need to develop and hone our collaboration skills. Freedom to express opinions and critique ideas is essential to that communication; to be able to have conversations openly and without reservations.

Work in theater happens at a rapid pace, we don’t have the time to not get right to the point. There is an exchange of ideas; ‘will this work? If not, then what’s the next step or what’s a better solution to this challenge?’ There can be no fear in expressing yourself; trying to get your ideas across in a clear and precise way, we trust our collaborators, as they do us, to know that disagreement is intended to be constructive, not personal. This is how ideas in theater are honed into creative, innovative production elements. This is how new works are developed, new techniques are refined and how we all grow as artists.

So communication, sharing ideas freely, is a through line in many of this month’s stories. We look at the ways that veterans of the U.S. military are using theater to generously share their experiences with a non-military audience, while also finding ways to understand those experiences themselves. This theatrical connection is also affording us all a deeper understanding of how art can speak to what it means to serve one’s country. How veterans see their role during and after service to reflect on the values we’ve asked them to defend as a nation, and how we back up those values by ensuring that veterans get the support that they need—and deserve—when they come home. (Which is why full support of the N.E.A. and N.E.H. is so important!) Theater is an outlet that some veterans are using to start a dialogue with the wider national community and each other. We are not only grateful for their service but their artistic efforts to share their unique perspectives with us.

With June also comes graduations and, who like vets returning to civilian life, students are looking to move on to the next stage in their lives. This month’s Answer Box offers some sage advice to early career artists on being part of the golden thread that connects us through the sharing of ideas with fellow theater artisans.

We also connect with some theater history, first in a piece on lost theatrical works from WWII (commissioned by the U.S. Army, no less), then we have two historical theaters that are today vibrant performance venues. Even our staging and tools sections are about networking and configurable space solutions. Connections and how we communicate, it is at the heart of the theater artist's world and the the audience. Together we are all participating in the quintessential way that humans have communicated and expressed themselves over the centuries. Through our stories.