Here’s the thing…
It’s been over a year since UK government told us we’re not ‘viable’. You remember. Dancers, actors, technicians, musicians, dressers, and countless others that work in this beautiful (if slightly exhausting) industry, were told to retrain. A little rich coming from the people who fail to do their jobs on a daily basis, whilst our taxes pay for their ineptitude. That’s right Rishi, we pay taxes–because we are viable.
Someone who says it better…
‘Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.’ – George Bernard Shaw
Here we go then…
I could write an article about how the chancellor told us to ‘retrain and find other jobs’. I could write how Dominic Cummings allegedly said that ‘ballerinas can get to the back of the queue’. But I don’t need to do that, do I? Those articles already exist. Written by journalists, with a far better grasp of politics than me. After all, I write fiction–though they do seem to be increasingly intertwined these days, don’t they? And if the best story they could come up with for visiting a castle during lockdown was testing their eyesight, perhaps they do need a team of writers on board, after all. See Rishi, there’s no limit to our viability if you actually engage your brain, is there?
Moving on from castles, there’s another reason I don’t need to write such an article. A simple reason: we still remember it. Those words, spoken over a year ago, are still resonating. Still burning. Still hurting. And that’s what I want to write about. That pain. That anger. Not the castle-crazed, contemptible…
So what do I want to say? I could say a lot. I could type furiously on my Mac, named Mabel–you’re telling me you don’t personify your laptops, using musical theatre shows for inspiration? Ok then, moving on. I could type and rant for pages. But if you wanted that, you could just go to the pub with the rest of the company couldn’t you? (Careful not to drink at the same rate as the musicians – they’ll drink you under the table. Trust me: I married one.) No. The best way I can really get out what I want to say is through fiction. Through art. Funny that.
Let’s get creative…
I started this blog to embrace my creative writing, so I’m trying to challenge myself to write a poem, short story or flash fiction to accompany every post. (Makes another coffee. Procrastinates. More coffee.) Right, here goes…
A piece of flash fiction by Chrissy Kett
Tears flow down my cheeks without consent. Too many emotions: desperation, joy and relief overcome me. I’m here. Relishing things I didn’t even know I’d missed: dust, mousetraps, the acrid smell of hot bulbs, and the discordant sound of musicians in the pit. Injustice confirmed by a tidal wave of affection as an auditorium floods the stage in thankfulness.
Over twenty years have passed since that evening. That night when live theatre returned. Still, after all this time, even polite applause still returns me to that moment. I look around. No tsunami, but waves still consume the audience.
A couple holds hands as the story reminds them of their journey.
A teacher hides her tears as her student speaks, as the music unites them in the same world for a few precious hours.
A son watches the memories form on the face of his mother as the costumes revive her youth.
Waves… just like any other mundane matinee in drizzly London. Theatre: a moon for tides of connection.
At stage door, I spot my husband in his usual black hoodie. He makes a quick exit, unrecognised by fans awaiting cast members. Just how he likes it.
He takes my hand as we join buzzing Soho, but in his eyes I see reflections of boarded-up windows. Ghost lights have long been removed, but still ghosts haunt him, taunting him down cobbled paths.
“Just go online.”
“Just get another job.”
Economy booms, “House Full” signs litter foyer steps, our mortgage paid off, those difficult years long behind us. But still it lingers. The pain and the rage at the belligerent ignorance of those who told him he wasn’t ‘viable’. The day they questioned his life’s work. Questioned art. Questioned love. Questioned the very air we breathe, with more corrupt potency than any virus.
Enough creativity. I’m a ‘Type A’ personality–give me a list!
A few little facts to put in your back pocket…
- The Industry is worth Billions
According to Arts Professional, Culture added £34.6bn to the UK economy in 2019, showing that the sector contributed twice as much as sport in the same year. And more than agriculture and gambling combined.
- Music improves health and wellbeing
There are multiple physiological benefits of music: improved cognitive performance, better sleep, pain management, mood elevation, weight-loss, and stress reduction. No wonder then, that people turn to music to support their wellbeing. A recent survey by Verywellmind, found that 79% of their readers said they turned to music during the pandemic to cope.
- Theatre Therapy
The theatre has always been a way to come together and share an experience like no other. Theatre has shown to improve social skills, self-worth, and quality of life, by offering a safe space where everyone is welcome. And the Arts’ reach extends far beyond the theatre: schools, care homes, and communities all benefit from shared creative experiences from many different sources.
- Dance Improves Literacy Skills
I’ve had the privilege to deliver ‘Bringing Books to Life’ workshops for West End in Schools. I can’t describe the joy, when you see children connecting with stories and books–sometimes for the very first time. Teachers are amazed at how pupils with behavioural and learning difficulties, or the painfully shy child who never says a word, suddenly get involved, and start to connect with the material.
The Arts positively influence economy, health, society, and education. Reports show reduced crime rates, area rejuvenation, NHS savings–I could go on. But I won’t. The reports are already there. Pages and pages telling us what we already know. We make a difference. What we do has a value that currency alone can’t measure.
Let’s cut to the last eight bars shall we?
I confess I’ve stolen this from my mother-in-law, but it’s one of her many sayings that I just love.
So, to sum it all up. Well, it’s kind of obvious isn’t it? Saying the Arts aren’t viable is ludicrous, whilst saying that they are, is a terrific understatement. They’re so much more. Something that our European friends already know. But we won’t get started on that. All I’ll say is this. You are viable. What you do matters. It matters more than anything.
It always has.
It always will.
Now more than ever.
Dancing in the Rain.
Should Fatima Work in Cyber?
Every Company Has One…
Want to read more?
Hi, I’m Chrissy! I’ve started this blog to celebrate the Arts. I’m a performer who’s taking a little break from being a ‘talking prop’, and am enjoying the teaching and writing side of things. If you want to know a little bit more about me and my writing journey check out my About page.
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