Social Justice Activists Are Dismantling Theater: I Watched From the Inside
Theaters are bleeding attendance after overdosing on ideology, and they’re trying to exile heretics like me.
Prologue: Navigating Cultural Revolution
I’m days away from starting rehearsals for my third literary adaptation as a theater director; my heart is pounding with excitement and fear. There’s nothing more thrilling than the electricity of a vibrant rehearsal room full of talented, generous, creative actors and designers, collaborating with me to adapt literature into a play, but it’s also anxiety-producing because there are a million creative decisions to make. Nonetheless, the theater is booked and the curtain will rise in October 2024; the only thing to do is persist in the pursuit of making great theater.
The inspiration for this production—an adaptation of a 1924 dystopian novel by Russian heretic Yevgeny Zamyatin—arose from my experience, not in creative persistence, but persisting in the face of an ideology that endeavors to bar heretics like me from the arts.
A culture of the arts without heretics isn’t a healthy culture—it's a boring culture. Regrettably, a small but very loud group of activists in the theater have sidelined heretics by demanding artists conform to an identity-grievance fueled monoculture.
Fortunately, I found a way to make theater. I feared I’d be forced out of the field altogether. I lost work for refusing to promote concepts such as “White Supremacy Culture” and “Decolonization,” I infuriated some by refusing to adopt “gender-neutral pronouns,” and I faced disdain for being white, male, and even for identifying as gay and not “queer.”
Unfortunately, I was prepared to deal with identity-based discrimination—I’ve faced prejudice since the beginning of my career.
Act I: The Wrath of Westboro
I was drawn to theater from a young age, partly because theater groups were welcoming to oddballs, weirdos and outcasts who didn’t fit in elsewhere. Even before it was clear to me, my classmates knew I was gay, and I silently endured daily bullying. Theater was an oasis where I could get away from demeaning comments and fit in with other kids. I relished using my imagination to stand in the shoes of a character who was not me; facing obstacles in a different time and place.
By the late 1990’s I was acting, singing and dancing in a professional production of a musical that toured small and mid-sized cities across the United States. Getting paid to tour in that musical was the epitome of a “dream come true.”
I was lucky to be in that show for various reasons. First, the production held auditions in New York, a city overflowing with talented performers. Being cast in that show was, as they say, “a lucky break.” But this was not the first break I had had in my life.
When I was eight years old, I had a break of a different kind: I broke my neck. The two vertebrae just below my skull were fractured. A neurosurgeon told my mother and me it was rare to see someone with this injury still alive, most people died instantly; the few who lived were permanently paralyzed. After the neurosurgeon explained the procedure he would perform, he looked directly into my eyes and said, “If there is anything you want to do in your life, you should do it before this surgery.” I said I wanted to have another birthday.
I survived; and at twenty-six, I was dancing across stages around the country. More than lucky, that was miraculous.
The last bit of luck I had was the date of my birth. If I had been born a few years earlier, I may not have lived to see my twenty-sixth year. The generation of gay men who came just before me were ravaged by HIV/AIDS. As reported, “by 1995 one American gay man in nine was diagnosed with AIDS.” The epidemic also spawned an anti-gay activist movement.
Enter stage left: the Westboro Baptist Church. Founded by Fred Phelps in 1955, the church gained notoriety in the early 90’s for picketing a park frequented by gay men. As reported, they also “picketed at American soldiers’ funerals, thanking God for killing those who’d fought for a country that ‘institutionalized sin.’ They prayed God would kill Westboro’s enemies.” The musical I was in prominently featured gay male characters, making it a prime target for Westboro’s bigoted activism.
As our tour bus pulled into the parking lot of a Kansas theater, church members stood outside holding signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “Two Gay Rights: AIDS and Hell.” Many in the cast were gay, but to the Westboro protestors we were not three-dimensional human beings with the capacity to love, dream and hate, just like them. They didn’t care about the commitment we had to our craft, the challenges everyone overcame to be cast in the show, and that, at the end of the day, we were all performing in the musical because of our love for theater. The point of identity-grievance activism is to ignore our common humanity and weaponize identity.
The protesters were within their legal right to peacefully hold signs with heinous language. Considering the musical highlighted how difficult the lives of gay men can be because of the discrimination they face, I wonder if Westboro’s activism only deepened the meaning of our show: as they walked past the signs, that audience experienced, first-hand, the ignorant vitriol many gay men encounter.
I was afraid that night, but I did what I had to do: I went on with the show; Westboro didn’t stop me from living my dream.
Despite fringe groups like Westboro, the late 1990’s was a time of great advances for gay men. As the country headed toward a new century, society was becoming more welcoming to a wide variety of minority populations. How could any of us have predicted the identity-grievance nightmare that was to come, and the impact it would have on the theater?
Act II: A New Dream
When actors aren’t working in a show, they survive by holding down a “day job.” Around 2002, I stumbled into a day job as a Teaching Artist. Teaching Artists visit schools on behalf of cultural institutions (theaters, dance companies, orchestras etc.) delivering arts programming, often in under-funded districts that don’t have budgets to hire full-time arts teachers.
I didn’t think I would like teaching, but within a few months I was hooked. The students loved the opportunity to get out of their seats and participate in theater activities, and I was fascinated by the challenge of writing a lesson plan; it was like a magical chemistry experiment: two parts explaining directions, twenty parts playing games, one part classroom management. And it was a kind of performing, the curtain went up every time I entered a classroom.
I remember the exact moment I decided to stop pursuing acting. When I arrived at an elementary school in Far Rockaway, Queens for my third or fourth visit, I opened the door to the classroom, and the students exclaimed, “HE’S HERE!” At that moment I thought, “Nobody is excited when you walk into an audition room, but these kids, their teacher, and you are excited to be together in this classroom – go where it’s warm.”
I worked hard to improve my skills. I read books about teaching, went to conferences, and studied pedagogical theories. But the best way to learn how to teach, is to teach. So I took as many jobs as I could get, working with every age group from pre-K to high school, with students diagnosed with “special needs”, students who predominantly spoke Spanish and Polish, jobs in low-income neighborhoods and jobs at high-profile theaters offering programming for youth from wealthy families. I worked in schools, summer camps, and church basements. I loved theater, and I now loved teaching, which led me to a new dream: to become a theater professor.
In 2008, I enrolled in a graduate program without understanding all master’s degrees are not considered “terminal.” When I completed the program, I was devastated to discover my degree had no value in the academic job market. I sank into a deep clinical depression and spent the next year and a half digging myself out with the help of a skilled therapist. But in 2016, I had another lucky break: I was chosen for a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theater Directing. I earned my “terminal degree” in 2018. I was on my way to a successful career in academia, but a new kind of activism attempted to kill that dream.
Act III: Something Wicked This Way Comes
In the summer of 2018, I attended a national conference for theater professionals in higher education. A panelist with experience on hiring committees explained, “To teach theater and direct productions at a college or university, you have to have an MFA and you have to show the committee you can get yourself directing work at regional theaters.”
I left the panel deflated. During my final stretch of graduate school, we practiced “elevator pitches” for potential interviews with artistic directors. Although the professor said my pitch was excellent, I wondered, “Who would I pitch to? My chances of meeting with an artistic director are less than my chances of a sit down with the Pope!”
I knew this because an activist movement sometimes referred to as Critical Social Justice (CSJ) was deeply entrenched in the theater industry. In the same way Westboro Baptist Church demonized me based on an identity trait I could not change, CSJ activists in the theater were deciding who was a so-called “oppressor” based on identity. I was nearly everything they deemed “oppressive”: white, male, middle-aged and, probably worst of all, I identified as gay, not queer. For readers unfamiliar with the distinction, gay simply connotes same-sex sexual orientation while queer conjoins sexual orientation with a laundry list of radical leftist politics. Although many claim the word queer is “inclusive” of the variety of identities encapsulated in the ever-growing LGBTQIA+ acronym, as Andrew Sullivan explains, “queer” is “designed to trigger gay men, especially gay men who aren’t politically of the far left … to make us feel we aren’t part of the world or of the community.” Rather than function as a term of inclusivity, “queer” has been weaponized to identify and exclude traitors.
When I asked an aspiring playwright what she thought my chances were, she said white men had been directors “for so long” and it was time that they step aside. I didn’t think a person’s race or sex determined whether or not that person had the skills, talent or commitment to be a theater director.
Theater artists were the last people I suspected would attempt to bar anyone from participating in the arts based on identity. We were the oddballs, outcasts, and weirdos who accepted each other because our differences excluded us from mainstream culture. Now, my colleagues in the theater no longer saw me as a three-dimensional person with thoughts, feelings, and dreams untethered to my identity. Instead, I was nothing but an embodiment of identity characteristics they wanted to amputate.
I ran into a professor from my first stint in graduate school at a reception for theater directors in higher ed. Mid-conversation he said, “Look around this room! I’m the only person of color in here. I’m not feeling supported! Come with me.” Without telling me his intentions, he led me over to the event’s planner and told her the organization needed to do a better job getting “directors of color” into the room. I stood frozen, a dumbstruck pawn furthering someone else’s activist agenda.
I was used as a pawn again when I attended the second night of a festival of theater directors’ projects in development. The first two works came and went from the stage, but the third piece started on an odd note. A bald, middle-aged man stood center stage and a young female director sat far away from him on the stage’s edge. At first, I thought this was a curious experiment in hyper-realism, but I soon realized it was not a performance. The director apologized to the audience for the work presented the night before because, she said, she’d received several emails saying the piece “offended” and “harmed” some audience members. The man center stage chimed in, but was quickly cut off by the director who asserted, “I’m speaking now.” It was revealed the man was a former NYPD officer who asked the director to help adapt his experiences on the police force into a play. Suddenly, audience members who had been at the previous evening’s performance were standing and shouting at the retired officer. Each time he tried to defend himself, the director cut him off saying it was not his “time to speak.” The man’s wife stood up and pleaded, “My husband is a good man! He protected this city on 9/11!” But the ravenous audience continued to shred the retiree over the “offensive” and “harmful" words presented the night before, words we were now not allowed to hear. I never learned what the police officer said that caused this reaction. But from the way he was treated, it seemed his mere existence as a police officer was contrived as somehow “harmful" to these people—who wouldn’t even let him talk. After the “show” I approached the theater’s artistic director and said, “I didn't know I was going to be a participant in a public shaming before I bought a ticket to this event.” She said, “There were some things he needed to hear.”
On a cold January weekend in 2019, I was alone in my Brooklyn apartment desperately trying to hatch a plan to change my prospects in an ecosystem increasingly intolerant of people and views that did not conform to CSJ. To get a college teaching job, I needed to direct something. I decided I could either whine and cry that the activists were preventing me from realizing my dream, or I could create my own opportunity. If I couldn't direct a play at an established non-profit theater, maybe I could independently direct and produce it myself.
ACT IV: Burning Down the House
As part of my Teaching Artist work, I had experience “devising” original plays with youth. Devising is a theater-making technique that means collaboratively creating a play originating from an idea rather than a playwright’s pen. “Devisors” start with source material such as newspaper articles, transcripts of court documents, old photographs, paintings, stories, anything that stimulates ideas a devising ensemble can transform into a play. On that frigid weekend in 2019, I decided to devise a play from ghost stories by Edith Wharton. Best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Age of Innocence (1920), Wharton skillfully used fiction to criticize rigid social structures and her lesser-known ghost stories overflow with rich social commentary and wry humor. I pitched the project to some colleagues from my MFA program. Excited both by the stories and my collaborative approach, they all said, “Yes!” They didn't see my identity as a liability, but my employers did.
In the fall of 2019, at an annual “back to school” workshop, I was, for the first time, segregated into what’s called a “racial affinity group.” When asked why we were breaking into groups by race, our supervisor said, “Because we live in a systemically racist country.” I was asked prior to the meeting via a Google survey if I was willing to participate in racially segregated groups, and I responded, “No.” After I was put in the “white affinity group,” I asked the facilitator why I had been segregated at work against my will. She told me she would get back to me. She never did.
At another arts organization, my supervisor called me into a private meeting to reprimand me for refusing to let my co-workers address me with “they/them” pronouns in emails. She said everyone was using “gender-neutral pronouns” in an organization-wide campaign to “dismantle patriarchal systems of oppression.” I let her know that I was a gay man, proud to be one, was not willing to let anyone else decide what my pronouns should be, and that applying pronouns to a person who doesn’t want them is the definition of “mis-gendering.” My supervisor bristled. I said, “Well then, we will have to agree to disagree.” In response, she slammed her hand on her desk, jumped out of her seat exclaiming, “NO!” and left the room. I wasn’t hired back.
I was also pressured to incorporate concepts from CSJ into my teaching. The idea was to “embed” theories such as Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Ibram X. Kendi’s “Anti-Racism,” Judith Butler’s “Queer Theory,” Frantz Fanon’s “Decolonization,” Kimberly Crenshaw’s “Intersectionality,” Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility,” and Tema Okun’s “White Supremacy Culture” into pre-K to 12 arts-instruction.
Instead of spreading the joy and excitement of theater, I was to use theater instruction as cover for indoctrinating children into a worldview that taught them to see themselves as victims or “oppressors” based on their race and sex. When I voiced concerns, I wasn’t offered further work.
Determined to “dismantle” so-called “harmful white-centered” practices in the theater, activists were inadvertently destroying collaboration. The most important ingredient in collaboration is trust. Trust enables collaborators to bravely take artistic risks as an ensemble. But the activists were sowing distrust by reducing everyone to identities “oppressing” each other; re-casting benign interactions as overt acts of prejudice or covert insults like “white women’s tears” and “microaggressions”—the latter is a doctrine that turns everyday interactions, like asking where someone is from, into a grave racial insult if a listener decides their subjective feelings are hurt. Where there are no real insults or real acts of aggression, “microaggressions” can be manufactured out of thin air. Rehearsal rooms became ticking time bombs where activist artists could hurl overblown accusations of supposed psychic harm at any moment.
Not satisfied with obliterating collaboration, the activists jettisoned their audience. As reported in Washingtonian, when a theater endeavored to revamp its programming to create “the most woke theater in Washington,” the journalist wondered, “Can they do this without alienating a crowd who, liberal as they may be, might also be slower to get with the times?” To which an executive board member replied, “It’s entirely likely that as we continue the work we’re doing, we’re going to lose more people, and I think we’re all okay with that.”
I attended one show that ended by pressuring “the folks who call themselves white” to leave their seats and stand on stage to understand that they don’t “own” their seats. At another show, “non-Black audience members were invited to leave” before the end because the play was “not for or about” them. Some productions held segregated “black out” performances. How do you reach hearts and minds when you’re kicking hearts and minds out of the space?
When the pandemic hit, and all our work meetings took place on Zoom, I repeatedly heard the phrase “burn it all down” from my Millennial and Gen Z colleagues. Their perspective seemed to be the theater that existed before the lockdown was a racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, capitalist (fill in whatever “-ists” and “-phobics” you could think of) oppressive system of “predominately white institutions” traumatizing artists through a “nonprofit industrial complex” (an oxymoron in any case) that needed to be vaporized. As reported in The Intercept, Millennial and Gen Z employees across the nonprofit sector were, in the words of one anonymous senior leader, “not doing well” and creating a “toxic dynamic of whatever you want to call it - callout culture, cancel culture whatever - [that’s] creating this really intense thing, and no one is able to acknowledge it, no one's able to talk about it, no one's able to say how bad it is.” It should have come as a surprise to no one that, during 2020’s summer of “fiery but mostly peaceful” protests, the atmosphere imploded.
First came the "Not Speaking Out” list, a Google spreadsheet listing the names of not-for-profit theaters that did not make a “sufficient” statement on social media about “systemic racism.” Then came “We See You White American Theater,” a twenty-nine page list of demands for reform that included race-based hiring quotas, ceasing “all contractual security agreements with police departments,” and requiring “creative teams to undergo Anti-Racism Workshops at the beginning of each rehearsal or tech process and ensure accountability with signed statements.” Finally came the targeted attacks on non-compliant individuals. One of the most heartbreaking incidents was the pressure campaign that preceded an executive director’s resignation. Her own staff circulated an online petition to the entire membership stating:
We are here to tell you that, underneath your dress of respectability politics, your slip is showing… it looks like your predatory tokenism of BIPOC staff members, your opportunistic fundraising, and your calculated obstruction of anti-racist programming.
This executive director played a major role in sustaining not-for-profit theater in New York City through the aftermath of 9/11 and "The Great Recession” of 2007-08 and was an ardent advocate for promoting women as leaders in the field. But the petition painted her as a notorious racist who needed to be excommunicated. I was horrified to see the document populated with the names of people I’d known for years. I declined to sign. No one publicly came to this woman's defense because the activists’ tactic was clear: do what we say, or we will cull you from the field too.
Overt discrimination permeated every meeting I attended that summer. At an organization established to support theater directors, one member asked the group’s president, “Can we have a conversation at some point about the ethics of white directors?” When asked for clarification, the member said, “This is about the ethical responsibilities of white… members as we work to transform the American theater… and whether white directors should be directing.” The president responded, “We’ve already begun to put a task force together… to help particularly our white members work through setting up rehearsal halls and production processes that are anti-racist.” It was odd that only white directors were singled out as needing support understanding what is or isn't “anti-racist” because, from what I saw, there was a lot of racial discrimination aimed at white people.
A prime example was American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter Keith Wann, who lost work solely based on his skin color. As New York Post reported, the director of ASL for Broadway’s The Lion King stated, “Keith Wann, though an amazing ASL performer, is not a black person and therefore should not be representing Lion King.” To be clear, and typical of the convoluted logic of this movement, the director was advancing the proposition that only black ASL performers should play the animal characters in The Lion King. Since when was it “anti-racist” to insist that only black people were uniquely fit to play animals? Citing race-based employment discrimination, Wann sued. According to court documents, the case settled in Wann’s favor with lightning speed. Perhaps this employer should have provided staff with “anti-racist” training that included Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts and his plurality opinion in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, which states, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Activists pressured artists to create theater aligned with their beliefs. As reported in The New York Times, the artistic director of a festival that once prided itself on being “uncensored” canceled a show because the playwright and performer dared to assert, “There are two sexes, male and female.” The artistic director explained, “I support free speech, I think all speech should be legally protected, but not all speech should be platformed.” Jonathan Rauch, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, explains the motivation behind this type of behavior in his book Kindly Inquisitors, “In an orthodox community, the threat of social disintegration is never further away than the first dissenter. So the community joins together to stigmatize dissent.” Stigmatizing unorthodox views by canceling shows that express them is censorship, and theater artists used to know better: In 1992, Stephen Sondheim refused the National Medal of Arts award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), stating it would “be an act of the utmost hypocrisy” to accept the award because the NEA had become “a conduit and a symbol of censorship and repression rather than encouragement and support.”
Unlike film, television and recorded music, live theater has no rating system; it should not look for ways to self-censor. Not only should theater reject self-censorship, it should overflow with a wide variety of plays that explore uncharted, daring and dangerous topics. Why not unleash diverse perspectives on various stages and let audiences decide what they think? Instead, activists insist the theater should be comprised of people who, however much they all may look different superficially, must all share the same beliefs. That’s not diversity, it’s monoculture.
If some artists want to create shows that extol CSJ, they have every right to pursue their projects. However, they have no right to bar other artists from daring to critique CSJ’s inconsistencies and intolerance.
Westboro knew they could hold slanderous signs, but they understood attempting to stop the show was beyond their purview–it’s time CSJ activists in the arts learned that lesson.
A few voices of dissent have begun to document the devastation caused by this activism as Clayton Fox does in his essay “The Toxic Gentleness of the American Theater”, but a New York Times article titled “A Crisis in America’s Theaters Leaves Prestigious Stages Dark” hints insiders know some of this “crisis” was self-inflicted. As an executive director admits, “Some theaters have forgotten what audiences want — they want to laugh and to be joyful and to cry, but sometimes we push them too far.”
ACT V: Building New Institutions
At the risk of being the skunk at the garden party, I don't believe logic and reason can be used to persuade theater leaders to take an off-ramp from their misguided allegiance to CSJ. Their devotion is fundamentalist in nature, and that is nearly impossible to pierce by persuasion, even if someone could get them to listen in good faith.
Look at the example of former Westboro member Megan Phelps-Roper: it took thirteen years of engaging with opposing views before she left the church. At fifty-one, I can’t wait for people to change their minds before I make art. The way to make art now is to build new institutions that state from inception a commitment to freedom of artistic expression, a recognition that ideological conformity is not a prerequisite for participation in the arts, and a pledge to refrain from making statements on social media about current events. If theaters want to tackle current events, do it on the stage.
Despite the storm around me, I pursued my ghost story project. I needed funding, so I looked for grant opportunities. One application asked, “Why this project, why now?” I wrote that a project based on ghost stories was relevant to the moment because they are about our relationship to transgressions in the past. Every ghost story features the living encountering an apparition who returns either to make the protagonist aware of a past injustice, or to punish the protagonist in the present. Considering Ibram X. Kendi declared in How to Be an Anti-Racist, “the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination,” I thought it would be meaningful for audiences to experience what happens when people are punished for things in the past, whether they had anything to do with the earlier transgression or not.
It worked! In 2021 I received two small grants to produce and direct Unearthly Visitants. The project went so well that my collaborators and I decided to mount a second show, an adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1909 science fiction story "The Machine Stops." In a review, a critic wrote the play was "a Space Mountain roller coaster ride, an intellectual white water rafting expedition, a production that will have you talking about it for hours and days to come.”
Every moment putting those shows together was pure joy and fulfillment. I didn’t “embed” CSJ into the rehearsal room or the plays. I didn’t force the ensemble to declare preferred gender pronouns, no one was accused of “microaggressions,” and I didn’t impose my socio-political beliefs onto anyone else. The rehearsals were about the bliss of creating the best productions we could devise.
Identity is important. I don't deny that. My identity surely informs my views, but it is not the totality of who I am. Reducing everyone to the same person based on identities serves activists’ causes, but we are simply not all the same.
Artists have choices: they can use identity to blame, shame and divide, or they can use identity to bring people together, helping us see what we have in common, despite our differences. Most new theater I've seen that wades into identity expresses a contradiction that linguistics professor and New York Times columnist John McWhorter identifies in Woke Racism: “You must strive eternally to understand the experiences of black people,” while simultaneously insisting, “You can never understand what it is to be black, and if you think you do you’re a racist.” McWhorter discusses only race, but the contradiction he pinpoints has been applied to various “oppressed” identities in several plays. This fashion is wearing itself out, but I fear it will leave behind a long-lasting stain of resentment, assuming an audience remains in its aftermath.
One of the four Wharton ghost stories I chose to include in Unearthly Visitants, “The Eyes,” featured a main character Wharton strongly suggests is homosexual. The story shows the cost he pays for not accepting himself. Anyone can identify with struggling for self-acceptance. Wharton didn’t wield homosexuality as a weapon to berate and alienate, she used it as a window to let readers experience the price paid for refusing to accept oneself. Theater should offer audiences more windows, and fewer mirrors merely reflecting back every audience member's identity.
Being an independent producer and director is hard, but rewarding. I choose who I work with, what we work on, and how we collaborate. It’s a lot of responsibility, but when things go right it feels great. It’s not what I imagined I’d be doing in my fifties, yet here I am, putting together my third production: an adaptation of Russian dissident Yevgeny Zamyatin’s 1924 dystopian novel We. Zamyatin is a true hero: a Bolshevik who left the party when it declared “all art must be useful to the movement,” he spoke out against party orthodoxy when doing so had mortal consequences. In his 1921 essay “I Am Afraid,” Zamyatin wrote,
“True literature can exist only where it is created, not by diligent and trustworthy functionaries, but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels, and skeptics.” The same could be said of “true theater.”
I owe both the Westboro Baptist Church and Critical Social Justice activists heartfelt gratitude because their efforts backfired: instead of culling a gay, white, middle-aged artist from the field, they created a resourceful, resilient and persistent artist, committed to freedom of expression, fairness, a belief in common humanity, and hellbent on finding joy and fulfillment as a theater director – isn’t that a great thing.
And I haven’t given up my dream of getting a college or university teaching job. As the saying goes, “Don’t quit before the miracle.”
Epilogue: Calls to Action
Essays like this can make readers feel overwhelmed because things aren’t changing fast enough. Fear not–there are things you can do to help:
Like and follow artists whose work you support on social media;
Subscribe to Substacks and alternative publishing outlets like this one;
Write a letter to your local theater. If you see a show you liked, let them know. If they put on lousy shows, write a letter telling them you didn’t like what you saw and why;
Don’t give money to theatrical institutions putting on shallow morality plays. Instead, give money to organizations you like. Send a letter explaining why you didn’t contribute to the former’s annual fundraiser and why you did to the latter;
Keep in mind the saying, “Politics is downstream of culture.” If you care about the future of our country, get involved in the arts.
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