Awake The Giant in You

As much as The Way I See It seeks to be a positive place, one that holds onto the hope for a thriving, vibrant Canadian theatre community and a country that is proud and supportive of its native artists, it is easy these days to become dejected and to feel as though a small few are fighting a hopeless battle against thunderous and powerful forces of negativity and opposition. A few days ago I received word that Statler’s Piano Lounge, the site of Toronto’s electric Cabaret revival, a venue that artists around this city were invigorated by and proud of, has closed due to liquor license issues. Statler’s, which housed Cabaret performances seven nights a week, in particular was home to Jenni Burke and Michael Barber’s incredible Curtains Down Open Mic every Monday which helped to consolidate the musical theatre community in Toronto while showcasing the talents of hundreds of local performers, as well as promoting Fringe, Summerworks and Hart House shows, and launching the work of Canadian songwriters. The loss of Statler’s Piano Lounge is, indeed, a devastating one. It seems as though with every step we take forward, the powers that be keep pushing us a step or two back. It becomes exhausting for those who have become such powerful beacons of light and hope and inspiration, like Jenni Burke and Michael Barber, those who keep advocating for Canadian musical theatre and Canadian artists, to keep slogging through, to keep trucking on.
In the same way, the government of British Columbia is threatening to make a cut of 90% to its Arts and Culture funding, which, if successful, will annihilate the theatre, and the other arts, in that province. Our local Canadian television is at risk of disappearing altogether. It is easy to feel as though we are being bulldozed over and there is nothing that we can do to stop it.
As I walked to the library, braving a fierce wind, feeling like the world was crumbling all around me; I started to wonder what I was fighting for. It’s useless. It’s futile. People will get bored of me calling for change, wanting things to get better, expecting more from the government, expecting more from the public, demanding more for the arts and for artists and for Canadian Theatre/ Canadian Television/ Canadian Arts and Culture. Maybe I’m expecting too much. Who am I to want to change the world? Surely everyone has tuned my voice out. I’m no one important. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I feel like I’m not making any difference. Maybe I can just fizzle out, crawl into my bed and no one will even notice.
And then something, yes, humbly miraculous happened.
It was something simple, something entirely ordinary, but it completely melted the heavy cloud of gloom that had been looming over my head. One of my favourite songs came on my Ipod: “Goalith” by Melanie Doane, and it was like she was singing the lyrics I have heard hundreds of times, expressly to me. I became immediately empowered.

I would like to share her lyrics with you now:

“I’ve been sleeping under the beanstalk and I’ve been dreaming of something big.
I don’t know how, but I could swear, I’m on my way somewhere.
(Awake a giant. Awake. Awake Awake. Awake.)
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me!
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me!
I know I got something inside of me, just like I know you’ve got something inside of you.
It might be hard, but if we dare, we’re on our way somewhere.
(Awake a giant. Awake. Awake. Awake. Awake.)
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me!
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me!
Say the words you have swallowed, see the visions in your mind’s eye
Do what you feel in your heart.
Awake the giant in you.
I’ve been waiting for a signal, for something to tell me everything’s all right.
But now I see, it’s up to me. No one else can fight this fight.
(Awake a giant. Awake. Awake. Awake. Awake.)
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me!
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me!
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me!
Hey! Goliath! Oh, you’re no bigger; you’re no bigger than me.”
– Produced by Rick Neigher. Released Sept. 28, 1998 in Canada. Released August 24, 1999 in the USA. Sony Music Canada / Columbia Records.
I strongly encourage you to download this song from Itunes, if you don’t already have it in your collection, buy her album Adam’s Rib, or at the very least listen to it on youtube and listen to it; perhaps on repeat. If this doesn’t fill you instantly with a firm resoluteness and strength in your own power and your own responsibility to stand up against the Goliaths that threaten to tear you down, find another song that you connect to more ardently and pump it into your ears, blast it, and belt along to it, surround yourself in it and allow it to inflate you.
We are Canada’s theatre community. We are Canada’s artists. You are one of the most important people in this country. You have the power to shape the world and to make it a better place. You have the ability to empower others with your vision, your talent and your important voice. You are instrumental to helping ensure that the arts thrive in this country. We need to be strong. The fight for our future will be a hard one. It will be filled with challenges. The gloomy cloud of hopelessness will threaten to snuff out even the brightest of lights among us. But, we MUST NOT GIVE IN. We MUST NOT SURRENDER. Our art, our livelihood, our community, our country’s culture is worth fighting for.
What I think is most important for us right now is that we all need to work together. We need to consolidate our artistic forces and to come together as CANADA’s Arts Community. We in Toronto need to do what we can to help our brothers and sisters in British Columbia, and to stand up and say NO, we will not condone 90% of Arts and Culture funding to be slashed anywhere in this country. We in the theatre community need to support our friends in the television and film industry who are struggling against the TV tax and the increasing disappearance of Canadian television shows due to a complete lack of support. More importantly, we have to rally together, from the most famous among us, (Eric McCormack, I am looking at you!) to the youngest, smallest Munchkin from The Citadel’s The Wizard of Oz last Spring and we need to speak in one unified voice. We are tax-payers. We are citizens. Together we make up a huge percentage of the population, and allied with those who watch our plays, sing our songs, buy our books, look at our paintings, watch us dance and help us grow, we are the majority of “average” Canadians who make this country one of the best places in the world to live. We are not victims. We are not the “Fringe” of society. We are society’s very own beating heart.
Let’s join forces together. All of us. Download “Goliath.” Play it loudly and proudly. If you feel empowered, please share this blog with as many people in the Canadian arts community as possible, or invite them to join the TWISI Facebook group. Email me (twisi.theatre.blog@gmail.com) with any ideas you have on how we can work together to make the Arts thrive in Canada. Introduce yourself! Especially if you have a website that seeks to promote and foster the Arts, let me know about it so that we can help one another and ally our forces. And please, please, visit these incredible websites and help the fight for Arts in British Columbia. http://www.stopbcartscuts.ca/ and http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fcreativitycounts.wordpress.com%2F&h=1a01ed7188496aad119605bef13392f3
Let’s all do what we feel in our hearts.
Awake the Giant in you.

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