Go Out On a Limb
I’m never more alive than when I’m learning something new. When I check out a show, I’m looking for more than beauty and skill—I’m looking for something to spark an idea, to topple a few dominoes in my mind, to question what’s possible. The last thing I need is a nice, proficient rendition of an irrelevant old standard, dusted off like an attic tchotchke with no purpose.
So I have great hope and enthusiasm for this season’s slate of arts offerings and events, which overflows with risk and consequence. This is a season of untested premieres, many of them diving headlong into the issues of the day—racism, sexism, you name it. Cheryl West’s new play catches a ride to the heart of civil rights with the Pullman Porter Blues (“Slow Train”). SAM’s Elles exhibition tees up scores of conversations about gender equality (“Elles”). And everyone from Mark Morris to the DJs of Decibel is reaching for the future with new material that’s never been seen or heard before.
We are living in a bizarre world where pop bands can be jailed for speaking their minds and facts are suppressed by torrents of anti-information advertising. And yet, even under these circumstances, artists continue to challenge our culture to improve by confronting us with our own humanity.
Whether or not a play or a dance or a song carries a specific message is not the point. Not every act of art is overtly political. Sometimes the point is the experience itself—the chance to absorb a story or a feeling and connect with a room full of strangers who are doing the same thing. That’s the place where risk becomes reward.
Editor’s Pic Hair and Space Museum perform at a recent release party for Sun Worshipers and HELLAWASTED.