Frequent readers probably know that I have lately been involved with a group of L.A. Theatre producers who're forming a league to serve as a collective bargaining representative, advocate, and promotional collective. The process has been grueling, involving 6 meetings so far (2 more are scheduled), at which various interests have to be reconciled, and rules for the group's governance established. It's important work, and it's hard. it's worth doing, but it's important to maintain perspective.
Today, on America's Independence Day, I'm reminded of what the men of the Continental Congress in 1776 set out to do. For them, their task was a matter of life or death. In declaring independence, they were, in a very real sense, committing treason. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying something to the effect: “We must all hang together, for if we don't, we shall surely hang separately”. Their actions that summer ignited a war, against what was at the time, the world's strongest superpower. Wow. Can you imagine?
Here, in 2012 Los Angeles, as we meet to debate and ultimately vote on the league's mission, bylaws, and governing principles, it's important to maintain perspective. We are all here with good intentions, but every person in the room has different needs, fears, concerns, and interests to protect. At times things feel personal, but really, what's at stake isn't all that significant. In success or failure, the members of this league will go on producing theatre, one way or another.
So, I hope we can make this thing work… L.A.'s theatre business needs us to do this, but if it doesn't work, we'll all still be here, making great art, and entertaining our audiences. it's what producers do.
On a final note: As a lawyer, I'm also humbled by the fact that any of the men at that Continental Congress were themselves members of the Bar… They stood up for what they believed and risked their very lives in pursuit of a fairer, more just society. For all the lawyer jokes, and derision leveled at attorneys, theirs is the real tradition I aspire to continue. I only hope that I am able, in my own small way to carry that approach forward on behalf of my colleagues in the league and my clients in theatre, film, television and new media. Of course, my neck isn't literally on the line, but I try hard to always remember what IS at stake for those I represent.
By the way, if you've never seen the musical “1776” you owe it to yourself todo so. It's a remarkable show, and really illustrates what the founding fathers of our great nation went through, risked, and finally accomplished. (the book and film are worth the time, as well)
Happy independence day, America.