Magazine article Liberal Education

Creativity & Crossing Boundaries

Magazine article Liberal Education

Creativity & Crossing Boundaries

Article excerpt

FROM THE MOMENT WE ARE BORN, there are boundaries between the world and us. The rest of our lives are spent negotiating, bridging, bumping against, and discovering these boundaries. Whether the boundaries are other human beings, countries, or economic status, they can be roadblocks. Sometimes the boundaries are visible, sometimes not.

Artists are constantly pushing and evaluating these boundaries with their creative work. The artist is about pushing the envelope, going where no one has gone before. Like the scientist, there is a drive to invent. As Agnes de Mille said, "Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what comes next, or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap into the dark."

In the United States of America, arguably the most culturally and racially diverse country in the world, we have, as Mark Twain put it, a "loud, raucous, cacophony of voices." This means that the theater we're interested in has the audiences arguing in the lobby, questioning their friends on the way home, dreaming about what they've seen on stage.

I believe the best plays are like the mountains in Alaska-huge, and dangerous, and full of God. I believe audiences love to laugh, are desperate to feel, need to get angry, are driven to think, and that through these American voices which are brave, ugly, sweet, bitchy, sensual, and hot-blooded, we bring the world into human scale so we can all recognize our own fragility as human beings.

How do we break down boundaries in the theater? Theater is, in many ways, the most present of the art forms because it is grounded in the reality of language, it exists only in the instant it is being played out on stage, and it is about the flesh. Real breathing people on stage in front of us acting out the passions of a particular character in a story which has resonance for my life. I believe this "bumping up against real human beings" is what separates theater from film-and that is the gift of theater. What better way to generate heat than through the theater? Theater is about human interactions, theater is about passion, and theater is about community. …

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