We’ve got this thing on our office wall – a mission statement, a mandate, whatever you call those. And even though I don’t know what it is, exactly, we do pay attention to it, more than you might think.
There’s one part about striving to operate with artistic, spiritual, relational and financial integrity, and you’d be surprised how often that comes up. (“Should we shaft this guy?” “I dunno, let’s see what the writing on the wall says…” That sort of thing). There’s another bit about plays that “explore the spiritual aspects of human experience,” which comes in handy when selecting (or rejecting) scripts.
But what’s been on my mind since Grace rehearsals started is the part that says we aim “to delight, provoke, entertain, stimulate and challenge” our audience. Because Grace covers more than its share of those pithy verbs. It provokes and challenges me – not to mention unsettles, annoys, surprises and worries me – at the same time as it entertains and, ultimately, moves me. (Why isn’t that one on the list? Time for some tinkering.)
This isn’t a comfortable play, or a comforting one: it doesn’t reassure, doesn’t coddle, doesn’t make nice. I don’t agree with all it has to say, I don’t think it always plays fair, sometimes it out-and-out makes me mad. But that’s what I love about it.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to the theatre to be coddled. Oh, I do love the occasional piece that reassures or inspires or encourages – God knows we need all the courage we can get in these sometimes desperate days – but there’s nothing quite like the bracing, head-clearing shot of adrenaline that comes from a play that shakes things up a bit.
So, in the tradition of Learning To Live With Personal Growth and Hospitality Suite, Prodigal Son and Espresso, we offer…. Grace. Not cheap grace, nor easy, but I think when all’s said and done, real grace. In all its confounding Mystery.