This week I dedicate my work to telling the stories of the underserved. The musical Hairspray directly tackles issues of racism and body acceptance, but its message can be applied to any underserved group. Equal rights and opportunities for all people are worth fighting for. The Civil Rights Movement may have taken place in the 1960s, but racism and prejudice still cripple the world today. Whether it is for the LGBT community, the economically repressed, immigrants, women, or any other people, the amount that needs to be done can seem overwhelming. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” But what can a play do?
A play can plant a seed. It can honor the work done by those who came before us. A play can remind people of the issues their own good fortune might allow them to forget. A play can model courageous behavior in the face of discrimination. If the first step is as small as simply acknowledging that there are people worth fighting for, so be it. A prop is an object used on stage by actors during a performance. Every prop I make for Hairspray is a symbol of solidarity. By adding visual clarity, aesthetic value, and intention to the story we are telling, I take a step in the right direction. I may work in entertainment, but I will use whatever power I have for the greater aims of justice, freedom, and a better tomorrow.
Our production of Hairspray opens on March 6th at the PCC Performing Arts Center in Portland, Oregon. Our last performance will be on March 15th. Laugh out loud funny and emotionally resonant, I promise it will be a joy for anyone who attends.