Show-up, people. Just fucking-show-up.
Tonight, Yoo-Mi and I were privileged to attend a performance of Yvette Nolan’s smart, gripping new work, The Unplugging, at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Revue Stage. The play, set in post-apocalyptic Canada, explores the emotional need for community, the compulsion to generosity, and the go-to sustainability of traditional ways of living – and the dangerous ways in which these virtues are challenged by the venality of a culture that has convinced itself that survival is a zero-sum game. The dialogue is tight, the production simple, direct, and effective, and the acting (by Jenn Griffin, Margo Kane, and Anton Lipovetsky) stunningly superb. By all rights, the 198-seat theater should have been packed.
Instead, there were twenty of us comprising the audience.
No one showed-up. This is a woefully common occurrence.
We constantly decry the lack of community cohesion, particularly here in Vancouver. And with good cause. A recent survey by the Vancouver Foundation found an appalling lack of meaningful human-to-human interaction in a city that prides itself on progressiveness, hipness, and “livability”. A recent discussion forum on this state-of-affairs at Simon Fraser University’s Public Square was tellingly titled, “Together Alone”. And yet we do nothing to help ourselves. Sadder still, we do not rouse ourselves from our collective stupor long enough to lend our support for the spirited work of those who are trying to build community, culture, and public good.
So, please, start showing-up.
Do it for yourselves. But more importantly, do it to support the increasingly rare members of your community who put themselves on-the-line to make your world a brighter, happier, more interesting place.
Whether you avail yourself of the pleasures of live theater, live music, public lectures, literary events, and the myriad other forms of artistic and intellectual activity taking place in your town, you are nonetheless a beneficiary of the creative talent and hard work of those who make these events happen. They contribute to the overall vitality of the place where you live. The cost of attendance is usually minimal, and often nothing-at-all. Sure, your financial commitment to the cultural vibrancy of your city is admittedly important; but the ethical issue is far more significant. You may not believe you have the skills or energy to create beauty in your community (a certain error and another problem altogether), but it is a pernicious, lazy, passive selfishness to fail to show-up to applaud those who do.
Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” But these days, eighty percent of life seems to be passing most people by. And they are doing more than stultifying their own lives; they are failing to contribute in even a minimally participatory way to the richness of their communities.