Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stone Soup

From the opening pages of Robert Theobald's book Reworking Success: New Communities at the Millenium.  

 A stranger comes to a starving town,
 Promising to make stone soup.

 He finds some firewood,
 Uses his own pot,
 Puts water on to boil.  

 As the water heats,
 He wanders around,

He adds them to the pot,
With strange muttered recipes.  

The villagers gather round.
 This is the best entertainment
 Their village has had since the famine began.  

As they listen,
They hear the stranger admit
That while stone soup is good,
It does taste better with a pinch of salt.  

 One of the crazier people,
(Or is she actually more caring?)
Brings out some salt she has hoarded.  

The stranger
 Gets bolder,
Suggests carrots,
And potatoes,
And swedes,
And dried tomatoes
And herbs.
As each one is added,
Others remember their own stores
And bring them to the common stew.  

We have all made something out of nothing,
By remembering the old, old lesson,
That together we can create opportunities
Which escape us when we hide
Our resources and skills from others.  

It is time to build community again,
To share what we have,
And to experience miracles.  

It is time to live,
Expecting grace
And finding it,
Even hourly,
In the midst
Of our harried lives.
            ----Robert Theobald

This is what participatory arts are about. It isn't about having a chef bring a great meal from somewhere else for people to eat, but rather it is about contributing what you have, no matter how meager, to the common stew. I believe that most people have artistic salt, carrots, or potatoes to bring to the table and that when we encourage them to throw it in the pot, we "experience miracles." It is time to "make something out of nothing," to bring the arts back home.

Think Again: Funding and Budgets in the Arts

Every once in a while, I think I'll post a link or two to posts written earlier in the life of Theatre Ideas that seem worth revisiting ...