BRIDGING THE DISTANCE: ALESSANDRO COSTANTINI – IT’S BETTER WITH MUSIC
The Musical Stage Company is driven by musical storytelling. We are inspired by music’s unique ability to viscerally affect people and are committed to cultivating experiences – onstage and off – that transform lives, build empathy and create community through musical theatre. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the stories of our musical community through our latest blog series, ‘BRIDGING THE DISTANCE: IT’S BETTER WITH MUSIC’.
We’ve given each artist a writing prompt and have asked them to share a story, an image and a piece of music that depicts their current outlook and artistic practice while social isolating. This week we are excited to profile Alessandro Costantini, founder and Artistic Director of YES Theatre and current cast member in the North American touring company of “DEAR EVAN HANSEN”. Read his piece below.
ALESSANDRO COSTANTINI – My hopes for our community during these times.
I’ve really been trying to actually relax during this period of social distancing. It’s the first time in almost 10 years where I wake up without the overwhelming feeling of an approaching deadline. I’ve been watching a lot of tv and films I haven’t had time to watch. I am cooking and eating dinner with my parents nightly… something I haven’t done since high school! I even cleaned out my stagey childhood broadway themed bedroom and am turning it into an adult stagey broadway themed office :).
I also feel conflicted about this sense of “freedom”. I’ve been away from DEAR EVAN HANSEN for a month now and really miss the show, the company, and the tour! Additionally, I feel like every day is committed to making a new contingency plan for what to do with my summer programming with YES Theatre. There are a lot of question marks in the future. This is frustrating because I feel like I’ve been forced to just stop when everything was on a pretty exciting roll. The experiences I’ve been fortunate to have over the last couple of years have culminated in feeling quite grounded, a sense of clarity within my artistic vision for YES Theatre and a deep sense of joy in my work and my life.
That sense of bliss – has always been because of the incredible community I have found my self a part of. I have a desire to continue to cultivate my community and it leads me to always thinking of the future; predominantly thinking about the future of my organization and of the Canadian theatre landscape. I’ve been feeling for years that we are in desperate need of a significant shift in the way we produce/create theatre- Specifically in our relationship between the work on stage and the audience…or more so, the community we create through the work. There is more juice to squeeze out!
Though I may not be able to articulate it perfectly quite yet…I do think there is an opportunity for our theatre to take a massive step forward coming out of all this.
It is my hope that I can use this time to take the very necessary break the universe has given me, but also to think critically and strategically about the future of our art form. How can we use this time, without any sort of fast-approaching opening night, to gently and ferociously strategize the way in which we can ignite the COMMUNITY through our work? To once again be as essential, necessary and vibrant as it was in ancient times. I think being stripped of ‘community’ (in the physical “let’s all congregate in a room!” type of way) has made me realize how alarmingly periphery the theatre can be. Suddenly something we passionately believe to be ESSENTIAL is deemed not so.
I’d like to share a quote by Zelda Fichandler, speaking to US congress in the ’50s to secure not-for-profit status for theatres. I think it is the most beautiful and true articulation of what the theatre is:
“Once we made the choice to produce our plays not to recoup an investment but to recoup some corner of the universe for our understanding and enlargement, we entered into the same world as the university, the library, the museum, and the church and became, like them, and instrument of civilization.”
– Zelda Fichandler
The theatre is and always will be essential.
So, during these times I hope our community continues to make music, to read plays via zoom, write new work, to live stream till the cows come home, envision and manifest the future!….. or just watch TV AND CHILL OUT! You do you, my friends! But stay connected! CELEBRATE OUR BRILLIANT COMMUNITY. So that when we are back, we can let the sunshine harder than ever. It will be beautiful! we will hug, sit at tables together, eat together.
I really can’t wait…but for now…..At least we can rest Uncle Vanya! Rest!
IT’S BETTER WITH MUSIC SELECTION:
Elton John- ‘Electricity’ from BILLY ELLIOT! My favourite musical!