By Dee Jae Cox
Theater has reflected the attitude and perspectives of cultures across the world and across the centuries. It is the keeper of the creative light having begun long before film or television was even a distant concept and having survived the oppression of the ages. Since its beginning, theater has faced censorship by governments and churches. Because plays are typically performed before a live audience, reaching masses of people who don’t have to be literate in order to understand their messages, it has raised special concerns about the power of theater to instill potentially dangerous ideas and incite action in its audiences. Especially actions of rebellion that many archaic and oppressive governments and religions have sought to prevent. And yet that is exactly what theater is intended to do – provoke thought and inspire ideas. It is no surprise in any free nation, when some feel their voices diminished and a prominent threat to their democracy, that it would naturally be theater stepping into the role of protector.
In keeping with what theaters through the ages have done, “The Ghostlight Project,” a group of like-minded social activist, theater artists, and everyday citizens have put out a call to action. On January 19, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in each time zone across the country, members of the theater community – from Broadway to regional theaters, high schools, colleges and community theaters – will come together to launch The Ghostlight Project.
Inspired by the tradition of leaving a “ghost light” on in a darkened theater, artists and communities will gather outside of theaters across America on the eve of the Presidential Inauguration and make or renew a 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. Their aim is to create ‘brave spaces’ that will serve as lights in the coming years and to establish a network of people across the country who will work to support vulnerable communities.
The Desert Rose Playhouse, located at 69620 Hwy 111 Rancho Mirage, CA, has a history of representing vulnerable populations such as the LGBTQ community and is the only locally listed participant in this national event. Managing Director, Paul Taylor stated that, “Jim (Strait) and I feel it’s important for institutions like theaters to be a place where people feel safe from those who fight against diversity and equality.”
The Ghostlight Project begins at 5:30pm, Thursday, January 19th and is free and open to everyone. Participants are encouraged to bring a light such as a flashlight, cell phone, etc. to illuminate the sky.
For more information on the National Ghostlight Project and how you can be a part of this monumental occasion visit their website – www.theghostlightproject.com
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project. www.californiawoman411.com and www.lawomenstheatreproject.org.