Post-Apocalyptic Theatre on Native Land

A tombstone labeled "Dead American Theatre" on the dirt in front of blue curtains. Various signs are on the curtains and vegetation is behind them.
Illustration by Silent Fox, inspired by the essay.

By Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina), via HowlRound Theatre Commons at Emerson College

In the Tlingit culture, there is a philosophy that everything has its time. When a totem pole decays you do not expend a lot of effort restoring and putting it back up; you let it fall, and it goes back to the earth it came from. A person’s legacy is only as old as the memory their grandchildren have of them; if a person has done good work, the grandchildren will take what the person gave them and grow it, but the elder’s responsibility to this earth is done.

I might also mention we have a strong value of not being afraid of death.

And so I must ask about American theatre: Is its time done? Are we expending effort to keep something simply because we believe it must continue to exist? Is it time for its death?

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