04 Feb Acceptance speech from International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY)
Posted at 14:22h in Aesthetic Education, Arts in Special Education, children's theater, David Gonzalez, Imagination, International Performing Arts for Youth, IPAY, Mickey Miner award, solo theater, storytelling, TYA 0 Comments
International Performing Arts for Youth
Lifetime Achievement Award
David Gonzalez’ Acceptance Speech
The fairy tale just took a twist.
I’ve traded cows for beans, I’ve made wishes to magical fishes, I’ve negotiated with beasts and fairies, I’ve slain, and (like Sondheim’s storyteller), I’ve been slain, I’ve risen from the ashes, yes, like you, I’ve journeyed into the wood, and now, miraculously, by your good graces, I am home safe and crowned.
Robin, June, Bert, my esteemed colleagues and friends we all know this could easily be you. I am humbled to be standing here before you, and in the spirit of our community I accept the Mickey Miners award in the name of the unsung, the unknown, the worker bees behind the scenes, the ones who aren’t with us today, who taught us, who fought with us against the tide, who wouldn’t abide the facile or docile, yes, to the nameless tributaries, and to the as yet unborn future artists that will nourish the values of art we hold dear.
In a recent interview I was asked about the choice to be an artist. What compels someone to commit ourselves to this absurdly uncertain, and certainly absurd, road? It is a wonder that so many of us actually take the detour and get “off the grid” when so many viable possibilities, alternatives and conventions surround us. Yes, sometimes it is ego pure and simple, but we all know that that is rare, and mostly passing. The truth is, while each of us has a story, at the root of that story is the overwhelming necessity to matter to the world, to make a difference in young people’s lives, however small, through our capacity to imagine, to create, and to wonder.
I was seven years old in 1963 when I heard on a little brown transitor radio that President Kennedy had been shot, I watched his funeral on TV, the black horse-drawn wagon mournfully carrying his body down Pennsylvannia Avenue, John-John’s tiny salute…With my grandmother I watched the news every night, we adjusted the rabbit-eared antenae to still the image to see the water cannons blasting black protesters in Newark, and Watts, I saw the funerals of Martin Luther King Jr, of Bobby Kennedy, and I saw the body bags coming home from Viet Nam day after day, the daily tally of US dead, of Vietcong dead. I saw much but could do nothing. These images were the cradle of my consciousness – how could I stand by, how can anyonestand by passively when the fires of hatred and war are raging all around us. I root the answer as to why I do what I do to the dissonance between my youthful innocence and the troubled times I was born into.
And that is my question today — Is there enough outrage? Why were 23 Afghan civilians killed by a U.S. drone last week? Why is Bradley Manning in solitary confinement, looking at 52 years in prison? Why did we allow the administration to suppress the photos of our dead returning home from Iraq and Afganistan for so long? No, we oughtn’t pound politics into kid’s heads, but neither should we keep them ignorant of their world.
In closing may I ask that our work invigorate the imagination, liberate free thought, embody true joy, and help create an activated citizenry that will respond with loud voices against injustice so that no more innocents be killed in our name, and so that the masks, and truths, of tragedy and comedy be friendly companions to our days.