If someone asked me what this week’s festival was about, my answer would be fairly simple: “it was a celebration of the arts for social change.” Kronos Quartet: celebrating music as a way to connect across borders, as a way to define oneself and one’s nation, as a way to express oneself when words are censored. Tony Kushner, Politics as Story: celebrating theatre’s ability to transform peoples’ thoughts, beliefs and actions. Salman Rushdie, Freedom to Write: celebrating our (relative) freedom of expression, and rallying for those who are without. All of these events recognized and celebrated the arts as activism.
As he was talking about the power of theatre, Tony Kushner explained that theatre could impact the audience in a way that a well-written novel, or essay, could not. Theatre has the ability to change the world—slowly—it is not a tidal wave; it changes people’s thoughts through their feelings and emotions, to help them understand the world they live in. As he put it: “any true representation is going to show that justice is a desirable thing, that injustice is a terrible thing, that inequality is a problematic thing,” and so on.