By Matthew Lewis
(This blog post is part of a continued series created by our apprentices about why they love theater)
I like helping people. Making someone feel better in any way or assisting them in a task that isn’t necessarily pleasant or enjoyable brings me happiness. It gives me the feeling like I am valuable to them, even if it is something smaller. Before going to school for theater, I thought that the appropriate course my life should be taking was a career in the medical field. With my eyes set toward helping people by getting my degree in radiology, I began learning about all aspects of the human body and how to heal a handful of different illnesses. Even though I liked helping people this way, something about this career path felt wrong. Soon after beginning my venture into medicine, I realized that the medical field wasn’t for me and so switched tracks to an education in theater and business, two areas I feel strongly about and enjoy doing. A career in medicine would help people, but it didn’t satisfy me. It wasn’t my passion.
Soon after shifting my educational focus to the areas of business and theater, I realized that my passion for theater could could also help people. Theater can’t heal people’s sicknesses, but it can help them on a different level. When an audience member comes to the theater to watch a performance, staged reading, or musical, they are leaving their own world behind, setting aside any issues they may be having, to briefly participate in the world created by the performers. The importance of theater was brought home to me when, after a performance of Arsenic and Old Lace, audience members told me how the farcical comedy helped them forget, for a moment, the bills waiting for them at home. That stuck with me.
In the fall of 2015, I was enrolled in a college course called “Artist as Business” which taught students how to survive in the world as an artist. I jumped at the opportunity. The class taught everything from how to pay your taxes, to professional work attire, to how to interview for a job. One of our assignments was to create a professional artist statement explaining why we do what we do, and why we are passionate about the arts. Here is mine:
The definition of escape is to elude something that is undesirable or unpleasant. Being part of someone else’s escape is what I am. My art is something that both removes the active participants from the hardships of the modern day and transports them to a world unlike their own. I believe that my involvement in the medium will benefit both myself and others. My escape is my art.
*GSC Blog posts are the select opinions of individual employees and may not necessarily reflect the views of Gloucester Stage as a whole.