Monday, July 27, 2020

10 Years

On July 27, 2010, I started this blog with these words:
I've been thinking about starting a theater blog for a while now. I love theater (especially musical theater) and attend a lot of local and touring shows, as well as shows in other locations (mostly NYC). I usually end up going to shows by myself because no one I know loves theater as much as I do. And to tell the truth I often prefer it that way, so that I don't have anyone or anything to distract me from the main event. But I often find myself wanting to tell someone about it or express something about the show, and again, no one really cares as much as I do! Except for my BFF Kendra (who suggested the name of this blog), but she's not local, so she doesn't quite get it either. So I decided to start this blog to put it out there for other MN theater lovers to enjoy. Even if no one reads it, I think I'll enjoy putting my thoughts/impressions/feelings into words.
Turns out someone is reading it, but it is true that blogging about a show enhances my enjoyment of it, and even better, creates a record that I can look back on years later. But I can't believe it's been ten years. Ten years of seeing more and more theater, ten years of sharing my thoughts and experiences, ten years of meeting artists and participating in special events. I never thought that this blog would turn into what it has, that I would be in a position where I am offered comp tickets at every theater in town, where people in the theater community read my blog and know my name, where I occasionally get recognized when I'm at the theater - "are you Cherry and Spoon?"

Yes, I am Cherry and Spoon, and over the last ten years it's become a huge part of my identity (I even have a tattoo of my adorable logo, that I designed with the help of a graphic designer about four years ago). In fact theater and blogging about theater are so much a part of my identity that since the pandemic halted all live public performances four and a half months ago, I sort of don't know who I am anymore. I don't know what my purpose in life is anymore. I feel driftless, unmoored, unsettled, like a piece of me was just suddenly removed. I'm certain that other theater-goers, and especially theater-makers, know that feeling. Of all the unexpected things that have happened with my blog over the last ten years, this months-long intermission is the most incomprehensible.

Besides a global pandemic, the other thing that 2020 will be remembered for is the great reckoning in racial injustice in our world, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police two months ago, on top of countless other murders of Black people over the last years, decades, centuries. This feels like the moment to reinvent our world to be more equitable for all, particularly the BIPOC community. And that includes theater. Over the last ten years (and admittedly more so in recent than in early years), I have tried to seek out diverse voices in theater, and hold white theaters accountable for their lack of diversity, but I'm certain that it hasn't been enough, that I can do more. When theater starts up again, I will recommit to the work of helping to create more equity in #TCTheater, in the stories that we tell, and in who tells those stories, and I hope my readers will hold me accountable to that. What I didn't know ten years ago that I know now, is that this blog is a platform, however small or insignificant, that I can use to bring light, positivity, justice, and change into the world.

I've grown so much over the last ten years, in my writing style, in my knowledge of theater, in the types of shows I attend, in the number of shows I see (from about 70 in 2010 to around 200 in recent years), in the theater companies that I frequent. When I started this, I was the only blogger writing exclusively about #TCTheater, but now there are about a dozen of us, and we've formed a collective called the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers. I value their friendship and camaraderie, and I miss seeing them at the theater and chatting about theater. I miss seeing all of the artists I've met and become friendly with. Theater is my way of interacting with the world, which is one of the reasons why I love it and need it so much.

I don't know when we'll be able to return to the theater, and even when we do, it will likely look a lot different for a long time. But I believe in theater, I believe in the resiliency of theater, I believe in the adaptability of theater, and I believe in the power of theater to change the world. We will gradually get back to a world in which we can gather in large or small groups and tell stories, and we will do it even better than we did before.

See you at the theater.

photo by Tracy Blowers of What Stirs Your Soul?