Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
“Free speech means the right to shout ‘theatre’ in a crowded fire.” – Abbie Hoffman
It’s not that I have no words to express how important Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company’s annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival has been to me, it’s that I have too many words, and isn’t it strange that these are essentially identical. I owe this company so much. I owe it my confidence, my willingness to adapt to circumstance, my open-mindedness about what theatre can accomplish with very few resources. I owe it for long-standing personal and professional relationships, I owe it for everything I ever did with New Leaf Theatre (whose earliest productions at the Festival were why I sought them out afterwards), I owe it for the brilliant work of artists whose careers have since flourished and I owe it for the brilliant work of artists I have never seen again. I owe it for the ways it made me educate myself about the history of Chicago’s culture and its counterculture, for the moments along the marches when grown adults would shout epithets at us for briefly celebrating a dead peacenik, somehow still sore about riots few of them had ever experienced. I owe it for the singular experience that is meeting Richard Cotovsky, this man standing in front of us all during the Sunday morning planning sessions with his wild hair and bottomless eyes and steam-pipe bursts of laughter and a vocal cadence you didn’t follow so much as tie yourself to with a bungee cord and what do you mean he’s a pharmacist.
It has been such a gift to us as theatre artists. “Here is an hour. Do what you want with it. Be kind and generous with the rest of the artists; stay for their work and invite them to stay for yours.” When people talk about the Chicago style of theatre, that’s pretty much the heart of it.
Thank you, Rich.