A Letter from the Executive Director

We were in the throes of Seussical, the Musical when the shooting happened in Parkland, Florida. I wanted to stop everything – the rehearsal schedule, the show, the battle against time to make the show great – to discuss it, to mourn it, and to figure out how to give this tragedy its due respect. My first reaction was that this awfulness called for something other than our little cast dancing and singing like all was right with the world. It just didn’t seem to be the right message at the time. But we didn’t stop.

As I considered this – the news was fixated on the shooter and the victims and the political fall-out, yet our little world at the FOA kept turning. Seussical was a hit in our community. And while I know our FOA family was discussing it, mourning it, and giving it its due respect, our schedule just kept on going.

People do need a break. That’s fairly obvious. And I’m not talking about a lounging-by-the-pool sort of break. I mean a break from the constant intake of violence, dissention, and political conflict that surrounds us – where we not only stop doing something, we actually engage in creating something that feeds our souls. Perhaps members of our Seussical cast knew this. They were here to engage with each other. Not that they knew each other before they auditioned for the project, but they sure did after. They knew that that mere act of creating something together was what we all needed during the inevitable times of crisis that comes.

I think our FOA community believed that in times of not knowing exactly how to give a tragedy its due respect, the best way might be to just keep going – especially when the very act of “keeping going” was a celebration of joy in a project like Seussical. Because sometimes spreading a little joy around is the highest form of respect. In the words of P.T. Barnum, “The show must go on.” Not only literally, but metaphorically, as well.

Another opportunity to come together to acknowledge and celebrate who we all are as artists is coming soon.  Jonesboro’s first Oasis Arts Festival is April 6th and 7th. At ASU and in downtown Jonesboro restaurants and businesses, artists will be showcasing and selling their work.  I love opportunities for us to recognize the Artist in each of us and laud the best of our work. We need more opportunities to join together towards creating good things.  It’s in our DNA to find peace, perhaps even therapy, in making something beautiful and/or truthful and celebrating the fact that that’s exactly what we were created to do.

-Kristi Pulliam

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