We are theatre artists, and right now there is no theatre.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I watched a documentary called The Actor’s Apprenticeship about the repertory theatre companies in the UK and how they were a safe training ground for many master actors.

Near the end of the film, there was a shot inside a 3/4 thrust space, the seats empty, and I felt my stomach get all achy.

I felt longing, what every good breakup song is about–you don’t know what you had until it’s gone.

Like every theatre artist during this time, I asked myself what I could do in the absence of what I do.

Those days we went on drives.

We loaded up the boys, drove north toward the rolling pastures and hoped nobody pooped.

(Side note, we’d taught our older son to call the diaper genie Mordor. He’d say it in received pronunciation. Ready for the rep company, clearly.)

During one of these drives my brain was on the moon.

Melissa said, “You seem far away today.”

I agreed. I wanted to indicate my mental coordinates, but my mind was a pinball game amid a lot of arcade noise.

I’ve learned some good technologies to corral my brain and direct him in less stress-inducing directions, but this day my tewlz felt out of reach.

This day, as my older son said at the time: “need help.”

Sometimes we get stuck in there, and we need someone to throw us a rope.

Melissa encouraged me to start saying words attached to the images pinging through my headspace, and after much incoherence, I finally arrived at, “I want to add beauty to the world.”

There was a lot of noise surrounding this–ruckus related to achievement, perception, and shoulds. But that was a statement that felt like it came from a real and satisfying place in me.

Since then, it’s been a phrase I’ve returned to many times. What can I share with you that I think has some beauty about it?

And why beauty?

There’s so much dirt flying at us that I want to contribute something that feels like clear water on our faces.

Beauty tells me there’s purpose and design that’s smarter than I am.

And it sets off something vibratey in my guts that feels connected to you and bigger things.

When we look at something beautiful together, we can join in that.

That’s why the theatre is so special. A group of us gather in one space to share a story artfully told.

We witness a story in time together, and when that’s over, we all leave with our own imprint of what happened. There’s nothing like it. I can’t wait to do it again.

In the meantime, what’s beauty to you? Or what’s your equivalent? And how does it feel to share it?

Here’s a list of possibilities that come to mind:

  • asking the Target checkout ninja how they’re doing
  • giving someone full mask smize in public
  • making some box mac n cheese really well
  • washing dishes
  • planting a flower
  • looking at a leaf or grass blade for more than seven seconds and saying wow
  • telling someone you love them
  • taking someone a meal
  • writing a thank you card or a letter and putting a stamp on it
  • making your bed
  • laughing
  • writing a rude limerick

Here’s a flower by our front door. That color, right?

I’m inviting you to join me. Instant Artist: just add beauty.