Laughter, applause and sorrow
Opinion by Larry Murray
Theater people are not perfect, despite the many awards for being the best, but of late the increasing diversity of the industry, from the Berkshires to Broadway, has been steady, and ever more noticeable. On stage as in the lives of theater people, there is an embrace of inclusiveness that is a role model for the rest of America. And if I dare say so, the audiences that go to live theater are less inclined to throw around hateful epithets that lead to sort of deadly hostility that broke out in an Orlando nightclub. And though the LGBT club-goers were primarily Latino and male out to celebrate, make no mistake, it was diverse as well with women, white boys and believers of all faiths among the dead and injured. Assault weapons are, after all, an equal opportunity automatic killing machine.
The theatre community, at every turn, refuses to let hate win. Through the AIDS crisis, through 9/11, through many unthinkable tragedies, the theatre community has said: We will not spread hate. All people are welcome here. When other communities say “your religion makes you a terrorist” or “your sexuality makes you an outsider,” we say: We love you. We want to hear your stories. We want to raise our voices together to affect change. Anyone who has ever actually read a history book knows: this action matters. Hate rhetoric creates more hate. Acceptance creates more acceptance. Despite the action of many citizens, I feel more hopeless all the time that gun control policy will change. But if I do have any hope at all, I have that hope because of the theatre. We are proud, we will not be silenced, we will affect change, we will spread love.” – Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Director of Programming at Feinstein’s 54 Below on Facebook
The tragedy in Orlando was noted last night by the host of the 2016 Tony Awards, James Cordon, but in the great tradition of show business, the show went on; and so, amidst our tears, a round of applause for the winners, please, including Hamilton with 11 Tonys.