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Rooted In Urgency

Rooted in Urgency

Meet Our Members is a blog series cataloguing the breadth and diversity of artistic practice across our membership. Would you like to tell us about your company’s practice and what drives your creative vision? Contact Zachary Moull for details.

Green Light Arts
By Matt White, Artistic Producer

Carin Lowerison and I started Green Light Arts five years ago because we wanted to take what we are good at, theatre, and use it to ignite positive social change in communities. You could say the impetus behind starting Green Light Arts was a bit altruistic and definitely ambitious, but the world isn’t getting any better and making theatre is how we can contribute. We create work that engages audiences in innovative ways and we share relevant stories in creative and unique ways that meet high artistic expectations.

Photo by Scott McQuarrie features Matt White and Carin Lowerison at Green Light Arts' office
Photo by Scott McQuarrie features Matt White and Carin Lowerison at Green Light Arts' office

Central to the play selection process is relevancy to contemporary audiences. Sometimes we create new work, sometimes we present other people’s work, sometimes we produce contemporary published work. All of it is rooted in the urgent social issues that audiences are wrestling with today. No dusty museum pieces here.

The first question we ask ourselves when choosing a play either to produce, present, or develop is why does this play actually need to be done today – what makes it urgent – and is there a community that needs to engage with this story. It may start with “because it’s cool” but it needs to be cool/exciting and relevant.

Photo by Graham Isador features Janice Jo Lee in Will You Be My Friend
Photo by Graham Isador features Janice Jo Lee in Will You Be My Friend

There was a play we were going to produce a couple of years ago. A published script that I was going to direct. The rights were paid for. Actors were contracted. Then Trump was elected. We saw the play through a new light. We realized that there are voices in the play that are not included. Rather than justify the absence of these voices because the play is well-written, their silence screamed out that this was now an incomplete story. Things had changed, and theatre reflects what society is now, and is ever-changing. So, after much deliberation, we changed our programming. Cancelled the show and tried taking that cast and moving them into a different piece.

This kind of flexibility is a core value of Green Light Arts.

Ian Carpenter and Rebecca Picherak had a company years ago called Theatre Viscera. The name perfectly summed-up the kind of work we dreamed of doing. You know, the kind that seeps into your DNA and stays with you long after the curtain call. When all is said and done, Green Light Arts produces theatre that hopes to leave you different than when you came into the theatre. That you see someone else’s perspective, or you feel heard, and seen.

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