Making theater encourages us to become our best selves

BRATTLEBORO — Theater can save the world.

Perhaps that strikes you as silly or irrational or wishful thinking. Or just plain wrong in the face of pandemic.

Certainly, in these times when the need to save lives is so vividly real and mostly in the hands of our health-care-providing neighbors, this seems like a wild assertion.

As we pass the fourth week of our distancing from one another, we mark that unreal moment when we put 20 continuous years of making theater together on pause to commit to keeping us all safe.

It would be easy to feel ineffectual in the face of such need. But being separated has deepened my understanding of just how lucky we are in the mission we serve.

Because New England Youth Theatre is a place where young people are the center of our community, we see evidence of theater's sustaining possibility every day. We witness its power to impact the world.

Here, young people have a place to explore ways of being themselves and with one another - and the means and mentorship to chase their creative curiosity.

You witness the transformation that occurs as a child experiences their impact and value for themselves. You see them flourish. You see them trust themselves and find their voice. And they carry that with them wherever they go.

We create the world we want to live in through our practice of working together. It is a constant collaboration where everyone's input is essential to the success of the whole.

Theater is a perfect sandbox for discovery. Whether embodying a character different from ourselves, or creating something through light, sound, object, or color that expresses the human condition, or sharing a story that makes us laugh at ourselves or question the unknown or our assumptions, the act of making theater encourages us to become our best selves.

And isn't that what we all need - to come together, to become together.

So, we at NEYT, we are here. We are digging in. We shall remember who we are and why we are here and hold that space for our young people to come together - whether that is in person in our well-loved theater or through interactive physically distanced innovation. We will find a way to support and empower our young people and in turn, our families and our community.

Maybe theater cannot save our bodies, but maybe it can save our hearts. And maybe it can remind us how we are all interconnected - we are one people who need one another.

Here is to seeing you soon.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates