I know there’s an argument that some make about awards shows like the Jessies. They hold that it’s wrong to pit artists against one another, that saying this actor ‘beat’ that actor, and that this company is ‘better’ than that company etc, etc diminishes us all. They say that competition has no place in the world of art. And you know, I don’t altogether disagree.
But I went to the Jessies at the Commodore last night, and I can honestly say that I didn’t feel any of that. From where I sat all I could see was a room full of artists happy to be in a room full of people that feel excitement at the same things that they do, without having to explain that excitement to anyone. I saw people basking in the glow of community. I saw a room full of people who don’t make very much money off of the thing that they love, and celebrating it anyway. I saw revered community members proud of the industry they have created, and young professionals proud of the industry they are creating. We need to share space like this more often. We need more occasions to commune like the Jessies.
It is only by recognizing that we have power both in numbers and in passion that we are going to flourish. It is only by joining our voices together that we are going to be heard by our next audience. And then, once we’ve got their attention, we can listen to them, hear what it is that they want, and give it to them. And then we can be the greatest, most profitable theatre city in North America.
Tonight I felt a part of something. And I think that’s what theatre is supposed to be about.
For those of you who weren’t there, click here for the Jessie Night live tweetcast from the field reportage dream-team of yours truly and @kenjimaeda, and the full list of winners is here.