Turning Fear & Isolation Into Solidarity & Connection: A Letter from Pangea World Theater’s Artistic Directors.

While there is much work to be done to combat this virus and the chaos it leaves in its wake, it is clear to so many now that much of the crisis we are witnessing unfold is to a large degree the result of a pre-existing societal condition. Therefore, the fight ahead must, for all of us be deeply connected to the overall fight for human rights, for our planet, for justice and equality. And we know without a doubt that art has a profound role to play in the struggle ahead. We at Pangea have always felt ourselves to be cultural first responders. This moment is no different.

We at Pangea want to reach out to each and every one of you in these unprecedented and frankly, scary,  times. We hope that you and yours are safe and healthy. We are thinking of all of you and so many others in the Pangea family, just as we stand firmly with the most vulnerable among us;  the marginalized, the impoverished, the homeless, the incarcerated and the refugees who will be doubly and triply affected by this virus. We also stand in awe of the workers on the frontlines of the unfolding crisis  – the nurses and doctors, the cleaners and drivers, the sanitation workers, delivery people, shelf-stockers and checkout clerks – as they do the heroic work that in calmer times so often goes overlooked and even worse, exploited. 

All of us are overflowing with thoughts and emotions; anger, fear, indignation, disbelief, nostalgia, and yes, even inspiration and hope. Many of us have, over the past weeks, felt at once both helpless and emboldened, paralyzed and mobilized. We at Pangea want you to know we feel you, we hear you, and we will do everything we can in the uncertain and painful weeks and months to come to continue to foster community, connection, conversation and action through art.  We want to hold on to and expand those flashes of hope and inspiration, those waves of empathy and solidarity that so many of us have already felt during this time of unravelling. 

And though we are physically disconnected and although we at Pangea cannot practice the physical and communal magic of live theater for the foreseeable future, we are already in action, finding ways to continue to tell stories, foster dialogue and turn our fear and isolation into solidarity and connection. This crisis is laying bare the contradictions and injustices of the systems we live in.The violence and greed that permeate our society, the lack of care and empathy emanating from the political and financial structures that govern our lives in this country and beyond is, simply put, inhumane. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said over 50 years ago, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

So yes, while there is much work to be done to combat this virus and the chaos it leaves in its wake, it is clear to so many now that much of the crisis we are witnessing unfold is to a large degree the result of a  pre-existing societal condition. Therefore, the fight ahead must, for all of us be deeply connected to the overall fight for human rights, for our planet, for justice and equality. And we know without a doubt that art has a profound role to play in the struggle ahead. We at Pangea have always felt ourselves to be cultural first responders. This moment is no different, and we are reminded of  the words of the great Grace Lee Boggs, who told us that “a revolution based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of humankind.” 

So much has changed so fast already, friends, and much will perhaps never be the same. This is cause for despair and mourning, yes, but also for reflection, for hope and for imagination and action. Let us harness that in the months ahead and let us journey together on this difficult road towards a better future for all. And along the way let us put in our suitcases and satchels all of the tragedy and heartache, the anger and fear we are sure to encounter, right alongside the love, the learning and the newfound appreciation for human connection and solidarity. And with every step forward, may we keep in our hearts the Mayan teaching of In Lak’ech:

Tú eres mi otro yo / You are my other me.

Si te hago daño a ti / If I do harm to you,

Me hago daño a mi mismo /I do harm to myself.

Si te amo y respeto / If I love and respect you,

Me amo y respeto yo/ I love and respect myself.

Sincerely,

Meena and Dipankar

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