• Changemaker Talent

Love Letter to Live Theater


On the evening of March 11, 2020, I sat elbow to elbow with a few friends and 1,600 strangers, inside a Broadway theater, while the male lead, Tony, sang about “Something coming, maybe tonight...” He believed it would be great. In the audience, we hoped it would, but the air was charged and we were worried for him.


Art was imitating life that night. The next day, at 5pm, Broadway closed her doors for what we thought would be long enough for the virus to run its course. How long did they anticipate that would take? 32 days.


554 days later, Broadway and theaters across North America have finally reopened. People everywhere are saying prayers the doors can remain open through the months ahead.


What did we lose when theaters all around the world went dark? Money, for certain—the show I attended, a revival of West Side Story, did not reopen—but we also lost passion, beauty, magic, and dreams. We lost the chance to be suspended in space and time—wrapped in the hush of a dark theater, sunk deep into a chair, side-by-side with friends and strangers, bonded around the sacred present moment, where there is only ever one take.


Theater gives us so much more than entertainment. For a few perfect hours, interrupted by a glass of champagne perhaps, we forget our differences. We forget our disappointments, our struggles, and our grievances with one another. What matters is the moment. We know that our ability to fully enjoy that moment is riding on our willingness to play along, to quiet the voice inside that wants to point out that it’s not real, and to be willing to give ourselves over to suspension of disbelief.


It seems that things need to keep getting louder and busier to capture our attention. Even G-rated movies have hundreds of explosions. But one thing remains true...One person, at the microphone, speaking his or her truth, has the ability to stop us; to open our minds to new perspectives, to lift us up, to make us feel less alone, to illuminate the path forward, and to bridge the gaps between us.


At Changemaker Talent, we believe in the power of the human voice to cut through the clutter. We believe words matter. We represent speakers who are working for a better tomorrow, whether they are documenting wars and wildfires, designing Mars Rovers or nuclear reactors, reinventing iconic brands, or shaping tomorrow’s leaders.


They inspire us to stand a little taller, to slow our judgment of one another, to think more deeply, and to consider the world we will leave behind for generations to come.


We believe in our speakers’ ability to change the world, one story at a time.

-Deborah Benson, Founder, Changemaker Talent

With Special Thanks to Changemaker Talent Speaker, Photographer & Filmmaker David McLain and Portland Artist Charlie Hewitt.


First delivered on stage at the Western Arts Alliance conference, August 2021, in Portland, Oregon.


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