Why We All Keep Doing It

Anthony J. Piccione

  • OnStage New York Columnist

This past weekend, I had the chance to attend – alongside many other producers in New York City – a major audition event that was attended by hundreds of actors. The director of my upcoming summer show and I both had the chance to see many talented people perform – each one given only two minutes for their audition – and consider them to be part of our show, as did all the others who were there to cast their shows.

As someone who spent a fair amount of his adolescence auditioning for shows, it was a very interesting and exciting experience to spend time on the other side of things, as many others took the time to share their talents, in the hopes that it would to an opportunity to perform for a larger audience.

Today, I am in New York as a self-producing artist, entering my plays into various festivals and hoping that people will see and appreciate my work, and that maybe it will make some sort of difference – however big or small – on the people of the world who see it.

Yet once, I was a young actor in Connecticut, where I auditioned for nearly every show I could for very similar reasons as why I produce my own shows today. The same can easily be said for the actors who I saw just a few days ago.

This rolled through my mind quite a bit, as I was there and watching all the actors come out and present their monologues. Regardless of who we are, what we do or what role we might play in the process of creating theatre, all of us still bring very similar hopes and aspirations – both for ourselves, and for our audiences – into the theater each day we are given the chance to be there.

We all embrace this art form as people who come from different backgrounds, and bring different skills and talents with us. Yet at the end of the day, we all do it because we want to create great art for the world to see, and will hopefully – by the time of the curtain call – end up leaving people either laughing, crying, or thinking about something they otherwise might not have been thinking about. I truly believe that theatre still has the power to great affect audiences and make a difference in the lives of others, and it should go without saying that making great theatre is truly an ensemble effort.

While I was at the audition event, I had the chance to talk briefly with one of the other producers in attendance, who talked about a dramaturge she worked with who also happened to be a nurse. I may be paraphrasing a bit, but she told me that this dramaturge who worked a nurse once said something quite memorable to her:

“My job is to help people live. Your job is to give people a reason to live.”

It’s hard to think of a better way to describe the importance of what we do than that. For all the talk of theatre’s decline that there’s been at various points in recent history, the reality is that it remains one of the purest, rawest and often most innovative art forms in the 21st century, and by the way, here in New York – and not just on Broadway – theatre is VERY MUCH alive, just as it should be all across the world. It’s up to us to keep such great art thriving today, especially when what we do is perhaps more important than at any other point in modern times. Life is hardly worth living without the energy and ideas that theatre brings into the world, and without ALL of our talents, theatre cannot happen.

And for all of you reading this, regardless of what role you may play in making it all happen, I hope you never forget that.

This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Playwright, producer, screenwriter, actor, poet and essayist based in New York City.

To learn more about Mr. Piccione and his work, please visit www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to follow him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage) and on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione)