Tony-nominated director Leigh Silverman (Violet, Sweet Charity) took to the stage at the American Airlines Theatre on November 14, where she was being honored by The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, and delivered an impactful speech addressing some of the concerns that many have felt in the wake of the U.S. Presidential election.
After thanking her collaborators for the award, Silverman went on to say how important it was to maintain stamina and perseverance as an artist. “I don't need to tell you what a thick skin, what determination we must have right now,” she told the audience. “I really struggled with the concept of receiving an artistic inspiration award before—but now after this week—it feels terribly hard, hypocritical even, to stand here in front of you and try to appear inspiring.”
Read excerpts from Silverman’s speech below:
“The thought that has been helpful to me in the last week is knowing how badly they want the women and queers and people of color to feel silenced and defeated and humiliated, and I find that excellent motivation to get out of bed and get very, very loud.
“Right now we must re-commit to doing our work. Not just because art helps us escape, which it does. People staggered into Sweet Charity all weekend desperate for community, catharsis, and to be lifted away from this reality. But art has and will always be a necessary tool for education. And revolution. Revolution. Resistance. We must use our art to make our community impenetrable from what seems like inevitable attacks to come.
“We must lift the voices of the under-represented. We must leverage whatever influence we have onstage, backstage, and in our neighborhoods to raise up people of all races. We must double down on our efforts to diversify the stages all around this country and tell stories about people of all races, religions and sexual orientations. We must demand gender parity, equal pay and equal opportunity for women.
“To the women here tonight I beg you, help me, and let me help you stand up to this now government-sanctioned misogyny. We must not let it shred us. Our mothers and grandmothers worked hard to insure a world where women had rights, dignity and equality and...Someday god dammit. Someday everyone in this country will look to women who lead, with the respect and admiration we deserve.
“… To all the young theater artists here: use your voice. Please use your voice. Refuse to be silenced. Make the work. Turn your rage into action. Find your inspiration. Find your resistance and resilience. Hold it close. Get loud.”
The Interval, which represents women in theatre, presented Silverman with The 24 Hour Plays’ Inspiration award. You can also read the speech there, and watch The Interval’s video tribute to Silverman.
The 16th annual gala production of The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway was presented at the American Airlines Theatre November 14 with a host of Broadway actors, including Hamilton's Daveed Diggs; Tracie Thoms, currently starring in Falsettos; and Fun Home star Michael Cerveris. The annual event brings together writers, directors, and actors to create and perform six original plays within 24 hours. Many of the performances referenced and were inspired by last’s weeks U.S. Presidential election.