Members of theater communities from across the nation – from Broadway to Port Townsend – are gathering Thursday to help create light for all people.
Inspired by the tradition of leaving a ghost light on in a darkened theater, the recently formed Ghostlight Project’s “Be a Light” movement encourages people to come together Jan. 19 and 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, gender identity, age or sexual orientation. According to a post on the group’s Facebook page Monday, over 500 theater organizations from all 50 states are currently participating.
In Jefferson County, Key City Public Theatre and the Mandala Center for Change’s Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble are joining forces and participating in the event beginning at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 19 at the downtown theater, 419 Washington.
“We’d love anyone who cares about people to come,” said Marc Weinblatt, founder of Mandala.
“This event is a reminder that our theater is a place of inclusion for all people,” said Denise Winter, Key City Public Theatre artistic director, in a press release.
“We have artists and subscribers from across the cultural and political spectrum. Everyone is welcome here.”
The event is a variation on a template that Ghostlight Project provides.
“Be a Light” supports and invites the creation of brave spaces where it is safe to be who you are, as you are, regardless of social group membership.
It also aims to activate a network of people across the country working to support vulnerable communities with a pledge for continued vigilance and increased advocacy.
“We’re adding our own creative style to the event,” said Weinblatt. Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble had been planning to do something before learning about the Ghostlight Movement.
Following a welcome ceremony is an interactive performance by Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble to help bring to life audience members’ stories about what it means to “be a light” and to take action. All experiences and opinions are welcome, Weinblatt said.
The community is invited to participate actively or simply witness the process.
“This isn’t just entertainment,” Weinblatt said of the applied theater technique, “but there’s always an entertainment value and quality to it all,” he said.
“It’s a tool to get people talking to each other; it’s a tool to brainstorm action; it’s a tool to share stories in a really engaged, embodied, nourishing way.”
BE A LIGHT
What does it mean for Port Townsend and its community members to be a light?
On a grand scale, Weinblatt said, he would like to see Port Townsend become a sanctuary city.
“There are many of us in town that hope to see Port Townsend City Council – like San Francisco and New York – make that decision,” he said.
But this event is about community members dreaming into and making a personal decision and pledge.
“What can you do? What are you willing to do? What do you wish to do – you, personally?” he said.
“We’re going to invite people to make pledges even if they’re small things.” For example: “Calling your vulnerable friends and saying, ‘Hey, I’m here for you.’”
“People don’t often think to do that, but that’s actually really meaningful,” he said.
While the event is taking place on the night before the U.S. presidential inauguration, “It’s something that we would do anyway,” Weinblatt said. “It’s an extension of what Mandala and Poetic Justice has been practicing for years.”
At the same time, the date is significant, he said.
“It’s the 19th because all eyes are paying attention. When all eyes are paying attention, that’s a great moment to act.”
The event is free of charge for all, and is followed by social time and a no-host bar. “This is a humanitarian event, and if you care about people – truly all people – come.”