While many are celebrating the inauguration of our new President this week, others fear that it will be a dark time for many, especially some minority or disempowered populations. The theater community is inviting people to show their support for ALL people by participating in The Ghostlight Project.
A ghost light is a term used in theaters for a single light on the stage left shining all night once the theater is shut down. It has a practical purpose; it allows the first person to enter the theater to see while crossing the stage to turn on the lights. However, it also has a superstitious connotation; it is supposed to appease the ghost or ghosts that are supposed to live in any theater of a decent age.
The Ghostlight Project is a program that marks participating theaters as “brave spaces.” The group defines a “brave space” as a place where:
- It is safe to be who you are, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
- Diverse opinions, dissent, and argument are not only tolerated, but invited.
- Active listening and courageous exchange are fundamental values.
- Collective action, activism, and community engagement, both within and outside the walls of the theater, are cultivated, encouraged, and supported.
For their inaugural event, theaters from Broadway to small community performances spaces are hosting a collective “Be the Light” event. On January 19 at 5:30 local time, close to 600 performing spaces (many representing multiple arts organizations) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will have all participants simultaneously turn on a light they are holding as a symbol of their “pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone–regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” The idea is that the theater community, with its longstanding history of pushing the boundaries about who should be allowed to participate in the American dream, will continue to shine as a beacon of light against any form of intolerance.
While New York is the epicenter of this movement, with over 100 gathering announced, and California is close behind, my home state of North Carolina is hosting 10 events across the state. Triangle residents (such as myself) have a choice of three places to participate:
- Sonorous Road Productions, 209 Oberlin Road, Raleigh (near Cameron Village and North Carolina State University)–click here for details
- Playmakers Repertory Theater, 250 Country Club Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 (the professional theatre in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) –click here for details
However, if you live else where and are interested in attending a local event, you can find the list of participating institutions here.
One of my favorite sayings is that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. So here is one way you can add your own light for inclusion and acceptance.