On Saturday, January 21 2017 I attended the historic Women's March on Washington with my writer/musician friend Marianne, and her friend Michele. We caught a bus in Brooklyn at 4:15 AM, and were back in the same spot at 11:00 PM. The air system blasted an ungodly amount of heat the whole time, and Maryanne and I scored seats right next to the bathroom, making the trip quite fragrant. It was worth every second.
Looking out my window at one point, I saw we were just one of many buses racing south down the foggy highway. When we pulled into the parking lot, that trickle of buses turned into a sea, with people pouring out, making last minute alterations to their signs, beginning the trek to the rally.
This trek turned out to be 2.4 miles through upscale neighborhoods. This became the 'march to the march', and the marchers multiplied as we went, all with strong smiles and open hearts. The lawns along E Constitution were pinioned MLK quote signs...the most striking and apropos being, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Once Maryanne and I rounded the Capital building, we caught sight of the crowd at the mall - and I experienced a shift, you know, that thing that happens when your brain and eyes and expectations don't match up? We were coming in from the side, the fringes (also apropos) and even seeing just a pie slice of soooo many people, which when you crossed your eyes a little looked like a giant mass, made me question my reality. I was laid bare by THE POWER, as Aziz Ansari said on SNL last night, of 'large groups of angry people'.
Only the thing is, in this group of predominately female and female-identified humans, anger did not transmute to violence, but STRENGTH. Women are strong on their own, but TOGETHER?! - pressed in with a million other souls, looking straight into each other's eyes, chanting in unison from our hearts - we all realized that TOGETHER, our strength is un-fucking-stoppable.
On the sweltering and stinky bus ride home, my phone was dead from the crazy stuff that happens to phones when there are a million people around you trying to go on Facebook all at once. I didn't have a book, so I pulled my hat over my eyes and laid back to think - something I haven't done since 1893. I thought about theater, and the rumblings on social media about the Trump administration cutting funding for NEA (the vintage Republican wet dream). I thought, what can theater do to make a difference in a time like this...when theater by its nature doesn't reach as many people as film or television? I expressed this to Marianne, and she was surprised I would even have to ask. She said, 'an act of theater can be a resistance itself'. Yes, Wow - is she right or what? If theater (which is statistically proven to positively shape the mind and lives of children and expand their capacities in whatever vocation they choose, but WHATEVER), is deemed by this regime as frivolous, then to continue to make it will be an exquisite act of defiance.
It is the eve of a big and risky season for my company, where we will all work day jobs to support us while we produce shows that brings no monetary reward. I can make the revolutionary decision to be perfectly content with this. Because the currency theater trades in is the same as that unspoken, visceral, and triumphant connection we shared at the march. And the more we make this kind of money, the more we create our own kind of power.