A Personal Note from the Producing Artistic Director
We are living in an extraordinary time.
The pandemic of 2020 demanded that we experience something dramatic and tragic together. Then we all faced the after-effects: social uncertainty, the Black Lives Matter movement, ensuing inflation, and upheaval by the Supreme Court, quickly followed by two ground wars that will forever change the geopolitical landscape.
And we have experienced it as a community and as a nation. Indeed, everyone on the planet is experiencing a common massive change.
And during all of this, theatre and art survive. People have poured into our theatre. Last year, we produced 21 productions and played to an attendance of over 225,000.
And we have done this together.
And I ask myself, "Why?"
In this world of pain, fear, and suffering, Why is art important at all?
WHY IS ART IMPORTANT AT ALL
And my answer is simple: we need art to feed our souls.
People need art. Not because they want art the way a child wants candy, but because they need art. The way a person needs food for the body, a person also needs food for the soul.
Art is the essence of life.
Art is the thing that’s left behind when all the politicians and generals have died.
Art becomes the “how to” book for the next generation on living a better life.
Art is not the icing on the cake.
Art is the essence of the cake.
Art is the essence of life.
It teaches us what it means to be alive.
It is no accident that 10,000 years ago when people were living in caves, after they filled their bellies and warmed their bodies, they set about painting art on the walls of their caves.
They were painting the essence of their lives on the walls of their homes. They were seeking to understand why they were alive.
In the words of William Shakespeare:
“The man that hath no music in himself,
nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils…
let no such man be trusted.”
Unfortunately, in these past months far too many men and women from left and right have raised their voices, neighing and bellowing loud, to create a climate of conflict, distrust, and paralysis.
ART CAN HELP US HEAL
Art feeds the human spirit, it feeds the mind, and it deals with big ideas in a safe environment.
Theatre deals with major conflict and no one gets hurt. Theatre is the great lab for human experiment.
It reminds us to be kind.
It reminds us that there is cruelty.
That there is heartbreak.
And when our turn comes to suffer, we have the skills to cope because we practiced those skills in the theatre.
We know that art makes our community a good place to raise children.
Because we know that art makes our community an even better place to raise adults. We know the value of art. And we know that creating art requires courage.
ART IS DANGEROUS
It’s a place where we experiment with thought, test new ideas, and explore a better life.
The ancient Greeks gave their winning playwrights the same medal of honor that they bestowed upon their great warrior generals. Because the great warrior poets of Greece knew that the courage to create required the same valor as the courage to fight on the battlefield.
My father was a warrior— Career Military. He spent his professional life coping with the battlefields of Europe, Korea, and Vietnam. He taught me that courage was not the absence of fear, but was the willingness to act in the face of fear.
As an artist, I know fear. I know it every day. Because art is dangerous. I know that it takes courage to create.
I know that it takes courage...To think what no one has thought,
To say what no one has said,
To paint what no one has seen,
To sing what no one has sung,
To express what no one has expressed,
To risk the rejection of the herd,
And to create the uncreated conscience of the race.
At every 8 o’clock show, we gather in the darkness of the theatre to explore together. To breathe together.
To understand what it means to be alive.
At FST we are creating an extraordinary "artistic home" for artists to work and create for decades to come.
With the help of an extraordinary community, we are creating an artistic home for all people—regardless of age, race, ethnicity, education, or socioeconomic status.
A theatre for the people.
A public theatre.
A theatre that, like a library, is filled with plays of diversity of thought and diversity of people and is open to all.
A theatre that embraces the thoughts of many and serves not just the few.
A theatre that makes theatre accessible and affordable to the many.
A theatre that serves the best in us all, and that serves all of us.
With your help, FST is creating an artistic home that will continue to produce all that is good and true and honest in the American Theatre today.
And together, in this artistic home we will explore what it means to be alive. And we do it with a little help from our FRIENDS.
Thank you for your support.
- Richard Hopkins
Pictured: Rachel Moulton & Alexander Stuart in "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Photo by Matthew Holler.