Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WILL YOU STAND UP?...Words from the Director

Jason Economus is the director for ETD's upcoming production of WILL YOU STAND UP?, which explores the connection between violence and mental health. In the following blog post, Jason shares some thoughts about the importance of this piece of theatre for the times in which we are living today.


I have witnessed violence done to those I know and love as well as to complete strangers that I’ve glimpsed for only a few seconds.

I have ignored violence done to those I know and love as well as to complete strangers that I’ve glimpsed for only a few seconds.

I have been violent to those I know and love as well as to complete strangers that I’ve glimpsed for only a few seconds.

I have received violence from those I know and love as well as from complete strangers that I’ve glimpsed for only a few seconds.

The world is hostile.

Violence and the threat of it consume and pervade our media, our politics, our communities, our families…and sometimes even deep within ourselves.

“We Must Love One Another (and ourselves) Or Die.” (W.H. Auden)

But we do die anyway.
So what’s it worth?

What is it worth to love your way through the day-in-day-out to the inevitable end instead of fighting that end like a battle where violence and combat come in a million tiny and giant forms only to hurt, to wound, to limit, to oppress, to exploit, to dominate—or to diminish another person, a certain group of people, or our own inner and best selves.

Violence. In a very complicated, increasingly “connected” and yet suspicious world, violence is one path that makes some sense to people. Because pain and fear and damage are realities with which we must contend. All of us. So it makes some sense that we begin to view our differences as threats and perceive those “Other” from us as enemies rather than allies—or, at the very least, just neutral human beings just trying to live their lives. And in the most complicated and darkest corners where violence thrives, it makes some sense that we often inflict damage on those we love the most, including ourselves. The struggle of life rages in each of us, continually. There are no days off, and the struggle becomes so ingrained that eventually the fight is all we know, all we feel, all we see.

But I do believe there is another way. It is a path many have known and expounded upon for centuries…far more eloquently than I ever could. This other way stands both as a beacon to light our way and a distant shore we struggle to reach. It is our aim as well as the very means that traverses our way forward.

This other way is Peace. And each step is a step of Peace. Or at least can be.

I am not naïve.

Peaceful words don’t get us out of Afghanistan.

Peaceful words don’t get the father to embrace rather than scold or mock his child.

Peaceful words don’t get the gangs to stop shooting or the teen to stop cutting.

Peaceful words don’t stop the slap, the punch, the bullet.

Peaceful words don’t stop the slur, the assault, the stigma.

Peaceful words don’t stop the rage, the ignorance, the shame, the fear, the hate.

But I will say that—quite beyond my comprehension—there are moments here and there, now and then, when we disarm.

We drop our spears. We gather around the fire. We tell stories. We laugh. We cry.

We wonder aloud, we ache publicly, we expose our wounds in the light of others…and by doing so, we find the harm has just a little less power than it did before.

We slowly realize we are not alone, we are not weak, we are not victims, and we are not monsters. We are people…imperfect… afraid….alive…always. And so it goes.

Coming to see WILL YOU STAND UP? is not just a culturally important or hip thing to do. You’re not serving some kind of vague social “good” by attending this show. My hope is that bearing witness to this performance is a necessary and essential act that we all participate in to help create a more empathetic, understanding and respectful society.

We confront. We share. We heal.

Our actions really do matter. There is much on the line. Every day. And none of us is alone in the struggle.

So please come gather with us, and ask of yourselves and your community, simply and boldly—

Will you, will I, will WE stop merely watching from the sidelines?

Will we DO something?

Will We Stand Up?

Jason Economus is an actor, writer, teacher, director, stand-up comic, and an ETD Artistic Associate. Click here to check out Jason's other posts.

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