“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
-Leonard Bernstein from Tribute to John F. Kennedy Speech
November, 25 1963
Music and storytelling are cultural universals found in every society across the globe throughout our history. They unite human beings in a common experience, an imperative that we all share: the need to tell our story and to express our emotions and perspectives.
In a world as divided as ours, in a time as perilous as the one we live in, we all have a role to play. At FOGG Theatre, we choose to do the important work of telling stories.
Telling peoples’ stories gives voice to the voiceless and welcomes others into their experience. Hearing each others’ stories invites us to share common ground. Stories help us understand and to be understood. Storytelling nurtures empathy. It is a creative act, a collaborative act, a defiant act. It’s a choice to aspire to the highest, despite being faced with the lowest. It is a choice to confront fear, anger, and ignorance with compassion, curiosity, and fun.
Music in storytelling is a powerful tool, cutting through our consciousness and accessing the emotional roots that connect us all. It’s visceral communication—the songs literally vibrate their messages into our bodies and minds. With a musical, you can you walk in one way, and walk out changed.
If war is enmity, musicals are empathy. If war is destruction and domination, musical theatre is creation and collaboration.
As President Obama said, “Over the years, musicals have..been at the forefront of our social consciousness, challenging stereotypes, shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics.”
Musicals, he noted, call us “to believe that no matter how hopeless things may seem, the nice guy can still get the girl, the hero can still triumph over evil, and a brighter day can be waiting just around the bend.”
The best musicals don’t just entertain us. They inspire us. They compel us to change. They prompt us to act. Musicals bridge divides. They open worlds to us, and invite us in. We leave the theatre thrumming with possibility. These are the musicals we seek to create.
These are the stories we choose to tell. This is why we #MakeMusicalsNotWar.