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Student Blog: Now Is The Time To Seize The Day

The lack on of action, particularly in the wake of The Hollywood Reporter article on Scott Rudin, is leaving many, including myself, feeling disheartened.

Student Blog: Now Is The Time To Seize The Day

I've been thinking about Newsies a lot this week. At its core, it is a show about activists fighting for change and battling against the status quo. Obviously, this is a fairly pressing and urgent idea, this week especially. It tells us that we should raise our voices to protest unjust systems, and that if we hold out, important bounds forward can be made to better things for ourselves and others.

This conversation is particularly important for Broadway right now as the community begrudgingly confronts the ghastly abuse allegations against Scott Rudin, which has been an open secret in the industry for years. A few folks, such as Karen Olivo, have been brave enough to lead this charge with bold and concrete action. Many others have spoken in support of the cause as well.

However, many in prominent positions have stayed mostly silent. The members of the Broadway community with the ability to completely turn the tides of the conversation have not spoken out. And though Scott Rudin has announced he will be "stepping back" from the upcoming revival of The Music Man, he has not detailed what exactly that means. This has led some to put out rather lackluster statements, citing Rudin's fairly hollow commitment as the end of the conversation.

Recently, the Actor's Equity Association responded to calls to place Rudin on a "Do Not Work" list, saying that they don't have the power, and that the decision is in the hands of the Broadway League. The Broadway Community has always considered itself an accepting and forward thinking environment. A place that strives to bring us together and lift us all up. So shouldn't this decision be easy?

As a young person who has grown up with my eyes on the lights of Broadway, this lack of action has been rather discouraging. It seems like the conversation is fading out. That there will be no change. That those who spoke out will be blacklisted or forgotten. That abusers will go on to have endless successes and face no accountability. The idea of that terrifies me, and has left me losing hope.

If you're like me, when you're disheartened, you turn to art. Like I said at the top of this piece, Newsies has been on my mind this week, especially with the March on Broadway happening. The idea that labor organizers can make a change to better their field is something that we need right now as a community. Finding solace in Newsies has also reminded me why I'm here, why I'm working in theatre, and why I'm writing this right now. Recently I've been focused on the difference between the art form and the industry. Theatre as an art form has the power to change lives and be an instrument of social progress. It has the power to bring us joy, to make us think, and everything in-between. This artistic merit is exactly what led me to fall in love with theatre. Newsies has been an important reminder of that, and an important reminder of why we speak out against injustices.

Broadway, like any industry, is far from perfect. The March on Broadway is also calling for commitments to combat racism and transphobia in the theatre industry. (The latter is something I will focus on in a later post, as it needs to be amplified far more than it currently is).

For now, the best we can do is have hope as we work towards change and accountability. Moments of genuine hope are far and few between these days, but songs like "The World Will Know" and "Once and For All" can help to fuel us up, and keep us feeling optimistic.

Keep your head up, everybody. And Seize the Day.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Michael Scuotto