by Courtney Kenyon
On January 19th, the night before the inauguration of our newly elected president, at 5:30pm various theatres all over the country turned on one light. It was a solemn reminder of the times ahead, but it was also a light of hope and courage.
PVCC was no different. At the appointed time, with a small, but mighty, gathering in the Studio Theatre, on a rainy evening, our light was lit. Our ghost light. In the theatre world, a ghostlight is lit at the end of the night when all the work is done and serves as a single light source for safety and visibility should anyone enter the theatre after hours. Of course, that’s just the practical use. On January 19th, our ghost light was lit in solidarity with other theatres as a message that we are a safe space. This initiative was brought to our humble theatre by The Ghostlight Project.
I found a small blurb about this initiative while scrolling through articles on BroadwayWorld and didn’t think much of it. About a week later, I saw a theatre with whom I have previously worked was participating and it was then that it hit me: I needed to do it, too. So I asked Andrea Robertson, the head of the theatre department, if PVCC could also participate and she enthusiastically wrote back, “Of course!” I only had a couple of days to put anything together, so our ceremony was very humble, but it was incredibly powerful.
Being a theatre artist, I’m not usually overly political. In fact, I’ve been told that I’m “militantly opposed” to politics. And while that might be true to some extent, this time it’s different. I won’t make this writing about politics, but I will say this: as an artist, as someone who makes their living in the arts, as a woman, as an LGBTQ ally, as someone who believes in the unity of science and the arts, and as someone who believes that anyone and everyone should be able to express who they are and be loved for it, my world is threatened. Our world is threatened. But standing in that room, holding hands with my friends, the people I love, my voice shaking and tears escaping my eyes, I knew I was not alone.
The Ghostlight Project’s mission is this, “Inspired by the tradition of leaving a ‘ghost light’ on in a darkened theater, artists and communities will make or renew a 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, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
January 19th is a moment of gathering within a larger resistance to intolerance at all levels. We aim to create brave spaces that will serve as lights in the coming years. We aim to activate a network of people across the country working to support vulnerable communities. This is not a substitution for protests or direct action, but rather a pledge for continued vigilance and increased advocacy.”
I think it goes without saying that PVCC is a brave space. A safe space. A space of inclusion. I’ve known that since the first day I walked into class. The dedication, inclusivity, love, and compassion that encompasses every person that walks through those doors is an inspiration. It’s something for which, personally, I’ve yearned since my high school theatre days. And I won’t sit idly by while it’s threatened. I will fight for those I love and for those I don’t even know. We will be a light and we will tell the world that all are welcome here.
For more information about The Ghostlight Project, please visit www.theghostlightproject.com.