Thursday, March 8, 2012

Feliz Día Mundial del Teatro!

Contributed by Bernardo Cubría

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think to myself, “what the hell am I doing with my life?” I’m 29 years old, I live in a tiny room, in a tiny apartment (once populated by bedbugs), where I share a bathroom with 3 other people. I have no money…like, there-isn’t-one-purchase-I make-without-having-to-calculate-my-remaining-balance no money. And somehow, I walk around thinking I’m going to start a family someday….? Sheesh.

It’s an insane life, and I chose it.

So why keep at it? Why keep doing it? Why put up with the hectic schedule, broke lifestyle, and constant rejection in order to create live theatre? Ask a normal person on the street what they think of theatre… In fact I just did while I sit here in Union Square writing this. These were the first three answers: (1) “Dat like shakepseare, right?”, (2) “Whatever.” and (3) “Oh yeah - I did that in high school”.

The truth is, sometimes even I don’t know why I do it. But for some reason, I do. I wake up every single day, confront my aforementioned life choices, and gladly dedicate the majority of my day to theatre. Just like a smoker, I can’t stop. (And not a 1950’s smoker who didn’t fully comprehend the risks of tobacco, but more like a 2012 smoker who knows what is going to come of this and says, “screw it”.)

This year, I decided to start a podcast where I interview the people that inspire me in this industry and toss the question back to them – “Why do you do this?”. The people I’ve had on the podcast so far come from very different backgrounds and have had very different journeys, but they all mention one word: community. Theatre people love community. We love the bond built in a dressing room, we love a stiff drink after tech, we love the thrill of being part of an ensemble that is greater than the sum of its parts, above all we love connecting to people – each other and the audiences we hope to impact. It’s a beautiful thing. Nowhere is human connection more alive and real than in live theatre.

However, here is where, if I were someone of note, I would take a detour to my soap box and mention how weird it is that a group who loves community can often shut out the most important community -- the audience. The most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in theatre are when we’ve been able to reach people who may have never been to the theatre before. Our ability to surprise, inspire, move, and inform a “non-theatre” audience could be theatre’s greatest gift. Yet too many theatres and too many theatre people around the world look down on the poor, on minorities, and on non-college educated people. I once even witnessed a “theatre person” scoff at an audience member after a show because they had never heard of Edward Albee (The shame!)

But I am not someone of note, so… I will end with this:

Theatre does build communities – and let’s hold it to the highest ideal of what we all know it can be. It crosses borders, it break down barriers, and it makes us realize that we are all human beings, together in our struggle. Balancing our budgets, trying to save enough to not have to share a bathroom, and who knows, maybe one day start a family. I’m just a kid from Mexico who grew up in Texas and who, thanks to theatre, has a bond with people from all over the world. For that, I choose this life, and I would choose it again in a heartbeat.

To all the people crazy enough to do this, I say Feliz Día Mundial del Teatro!


Bernardo Cubría is a Mexican actor, writer and lover of guacamole. He hosts the weekly podcast interview show Off and On: A New York Theatre Podcast available for free on Itunes. He can be seen this summer in Mando Alvarado’s adaptation of Hamlet in Central Park produced by SummerStage.

Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. To learn more about TCG/ITI-US and World Theatre Day, please click here.

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