There is a kind of nobility, or dignity, in art. This dignity is earned by the willingness of the artist to give up themselves. It is earned by their willingness and ability to give themselves over to the art, to the role, to the training, to the process, to the story, to the relationships, to their ideas and the ideas of others, and on and on. Over time, a person experiences a sense of dignity. And it is truly honourable, because they have given of themselves.
There is no shortcut to that sort of dignity. It is earned.
When we don’t understand what that dignity is or how to find it, we replace it with a much cruder version of dignity, that being recognition. Recognition plays out on an imaginary hierarchical ladder of importance which we attempt to climb. On this is relative ladder, I am further up than someone else, but I’m below others. One step at a time. The steps on this ladder of recognition are other people. I search for weaknesses in others. I insult. I demean. I attack. I make meaningless enemies, and involve myself in meaningless battles, so that I can win. Each step up says: I am valid. I’m important. I have my place. And each win feels like I’m getting somewhere. I’m climbing up.
If we bring that strategy to a creative environment, we sabotage any possibility of our gaining the inherent dignity that we crave. We sabotage any possibility for accessing it, and if it goes unchecked, we very well might destroy the environment that is created for others to discover real dignity.
Now remember firmly what I am going to tell you: the theatre, on account of its publicity and spectacular side, attracts many people who merely want to capitalize their beauty or make careers. They take advantage of the ignorance of the public, its perverted taste, favouritism, intrigues, false success, and many other means which have no relation to creative art. These exploiters are the deadliest enemies of art. We have to use the sternest measures with them, and if they cannot be reformed they must be removed from the boards. Therefore … you must make up your mind, once and for all, did you come here to serve art, and to make sacrifices for its sake, or to exploit your own personal ends?
Those of us who step into this work, understand the challenges. We know what arises in an art that embraces our full humanity. We know that it is a long path with many cracks and crevices that we’ve avoided our whole lives. And we know that there is no shortcut.