"Without diversity we will tell only stories we already know to each other.”
Sometimes it feels like we know all the stories, doesn't it?
We have access to everything, are daily bombarded with so much narrative, and non-narrative being crafted as narrative to hook us into its income stream - sometimes it's all a bit much.
The solution to overload is constriction - narrowing your focus on what you already know, or what you already believe you want to know.
Don't want to know about Syria or Gaza? Focus on baseball season. Don't want to know about air strikes in Iraq? Focus on the new TV season.
But none of this works to erase that underlying anxiety. We have a need for story. One that only seems to grow more imperative as we evolve. We are creatures of story. It's how many of us process experience. Telling the same stories by the same people to the same people - this is what is known as preaching to the converted. As a spoken word artist, I love nothing more than a hostile audience - one that is maybe a little drunk, sure they don't want to hear any stupid poetry and just generally doesn't like the look of me at all. That's where the gold is as a storyteller. Reach one person in that room and you've done something.
We are in a time of confusing opinion for story, information for facts, and visual differences for diversity. This may work for commerce, but it is not how to truly reach people as artists or be reached as audience. Lyn Gardner's great article calls for us to broaden our thinking about what we put before audiences and what we consider a theatrical experience to be. This is a good moment to reconsider content, its implications, and its possibllities.
The picture is of Joe Frank - an extraordinary storyteller in our midst. Here's his recent KCRW broadcast - a fascinating intertwining of our destinies.
Reconsider the stories you want to hear and the ones you want to tell. Reconsider who you want to be telling the stories and who needs to hear them. Reconsider how they are being told and where. All this infinite choice means infinite possibility, too. And infinite responsibility.
It's Monday. Go in.