Like an old saw, I say it over and over again.  The arts, in all its forms, are the best communicator of the human condition. The arts are the soul of man’s humanity and through the visual and performing arts we are able to put man’s inhumanity to man under the microscope…hopefully for a better human outcome.

Last week I had a meeting at The Presidio Trust in San Francisco.  The Presidio is a re-visioned, re-purposed historic Army Post at the gate of the San Francisco Bay where it meets the Pacific Ocean.  I was given a tour of an incredible exhibit currently on display.  The Presidio’s Role in World War II – Japanese American Incarceration.

I had already attended a Fathom Event Live Performance last year of the musical Allegiance.  Produced and starring George Takei.  Music and lyrics by Jay Kuo.  Book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione. Choreography by Andrew Palermo. George and I became friends many years ago when we were both undergraduate students studying acting at UCLA.  One night after a rehearsal, as we sat and talked, he shared his story with me. He finished by saying he didn’t share his story very often because he was ashamed.  He was ashamed!  What about the shame we bear?

Described on the Allegiance official website (http://www.alligiance.com) as a musical “Inspired by true events, Allegiance is the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor.”  This is a musical relevant to today.  It is an important period in America that needs to be talked about. It is a “shame” we never want to repeat. George lived through this experience. His family experienced this period in time first-hand and lived with its repercussions. No one has wanted to talk about it so George takes our hand and leads us through it in word, song and dance in a way that touches our hearts deeply. This is what the arts can do for mankind.

Another example of art that stirs the soul is the work of my friend Al Farrow.  Al is a sculpture. His reliquary work is both stunning and chilling. His re-creations of temples, churches and mosques are exquisite.  Quite large in scope, bronzed and beautiful to the eye at first gaze, it isn’t until you come quite close that you realize what the title of his work, “In the Name of God,” implies:    Each piece of every mosque, church and temple is constructed of guns, ammunition, and body parts! What is important is something I witnessed when I attended a show of his work at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, California where many of his pieces were on display.  At each exhibit table strangers stood and talked about the ideas presented in the artwork! This is what art can do for mankind!

US Performing Arts is honing the skills and craft of our next generation of artists. They will be the next storytellers of the human condition. The stories are not always sad stories. They can be stories of hope and joy but they will always be stories that speak to our hearts and mirror our condition.

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