by David Harrower
Director’s Notes, October 2011
With the world finally beginning to show its age I can think of no better time to be an artist. Common wisdom would have us believe that when times are tough the arts are the first thing to be taken out back and shot behind the wood shed, with theatre first in line. The thinking goes that it’s better to sit in a padded cell going slowly insane than buy a ticket to a play, movie, or concert that you can ill afford. It’s a thinking that goes on to say that even if you managed to make it out the front door the only thing you’re going to seek is the most superficial, distracting, and escapist form of fluff imaginable. Which begs the question, how does one gauge what is food for the soul when it might be your only meal of the day?
The moment I finished reading David Harrower’s “Blackbird” I felt fed. Not only was it daring in its subject matter and bruising style of storytelling, but it was downright heroic in the way that it refused to give me simple answers, refused to let me know what it was thinking, and refused to accept anything less than my full and undivided attention. It was more than I could have hoped for and everything I needed. With every page it said that life is a ferociously complicated and constantly unknowable place, and yet somehow through it all it’s humanity that survives. There’s no question that escapist entertainment can offer fleeting and sometimes necessary reward. After all, who hasn’t dreamt of leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but in the long run, during times of great uncertainty and great turmoil, it’s the art that’s unafraid to lay an unvarnished world at our feet that truly nourishes.
In times of loneliness seek it out.