CMU School of Drama

Thursday, March 30, 2017

How Can You Eat When Everyone Is Starving?

HowlRound: It’s not easy to know how to effectively address the massive inequity I experience in theatre as an emerging artist and arts manager. I’ve encountered a wide range of obstacles and benefits in various positions: unpaid intern, office manager, artistic associate, stage manager, director, and company manager. I hid my turmoil and discontent until now because I was afraid of the potential repercussions of speaking out. After the election, I decided I had to say something. If I can’t change things within my own community for those I love and admire, how can I expect our country to change?


Alexa James-Cardenas said...

I feel like there was a lot of ideas and things the author would like to talk about which were supposed to be coherent individual ideas that related to each other, but it really seemed too mushed together and the transition between ideas/understanding what she was specifically talking about was a bit confusing. Instead of an article, this seemed more like an entry in her journal, which she had bottled up her feelings, and this was just a puking out of thoughts. With there were definite moments/ideas that stuck to me. For instance, when posed the questions: “How can we continue to encourage people to dream this dream? Would you encourage your loved ones to keep driving a car that is running on fumes? How can you eat when everyone is starving?”. This is being one of those moments of, “wait, what is she talking about”. But what I got from it was that there is this inherent selfishness in dreaming, and she is comparing it to the selfishness in driver a car which can harm the environment, and having the privilege of food while there are people starving and struggle to eat. With the last two “selfishness” things, it really is, for at least for most people living in 1st world countries, a necessity for living. We have the car and money to drive cars that get us places, and we have the money to buy, eat, and even waste food. It is a privilege that we use every day. And I think she is saying that dreaming (and the opportunity to achieve the dream) should also be necessity and an everyday privilege that we just do. Another thing that resonated with me was the whole “That’s Just the Way It is” mentality, and it is idea that has me the most conflicted. Part me sees where the hope comes from and wants it to. An ideal place where you get jobs based a fair system, get paid on a fair system, and overall just respected on a fair system. Really, she calls for human decency and equal discretion, and we can work to achieve a common goal and not have it be a power game. But then part of me wants to say, “Whelp, that is the way it is”. Because yeah it is, and I don’t really have hope of there being a change any time soon. But I don’t think of it as passive as I think the author does. The “That’s Just the Way It is”, I feel like for me, is to know where I stand and how far/long/hard I need to run to be on equal standing or past everyone else. “That’s Just the Way It is”, for me, is a challenge to break out of my background’s stereotypes and work knowing that I’m going to have to work twice, three times, 50 times harder to just be considered because well “That’s Just the Way It Is”. Yeah, we can work and push for change, and that shouldn’t every stop, but at least for now, I’m going to run.

Simone Schneeberg said...

There is a weird romanticism of the starving artist. It comes in the will to do so much work for nothing; it is a sort of martyrdom, bringing light to the world with your creations while simultaneously bringing about your own darkness. I think the low wages and high expectations for artists perpetrate for two reasons and I don't really think they're going to go away. We will always be willing to do it. Like the author wrote, we do it because we believe in the mission. We do it for the world and we do it for the community and we do it because we enjoy the work. We will take it if we get it because it's like a ticket into an exclusive club. We support our own misfortune in this way. The other way I see it perpetration is that so many do not believe it is as worthy of high praise (in dollar amounts) as say engineering or the sciences. If people do organize and pressure for reform, change may come, but it will come not only through fighting the outlook of those outside the industry, but fighting those within to resist their own urges to just work.