On November 14th, we got to help honor Leigh Silverman as The 24 Hour Plays presented her with their Inspiration Award. We thought this celebration would be happening under very different circumstances, but now more than ever we’re grateful to celebrate a woman who is the best of the best, a constant support to her community, and who never backs down from a challenge. We hope you enjoy our video tribute to Leigh, “Silverman Forever,” and we hope you take a moment to read this excerpt from her speech.
“I don’t need to tell you what a thick skin, what determination we must have right now. I really struggled with the concept of receiving an artistic inspiration award before, but now after this week it feels terribly hard—hypocritical even—to stand here in front of you and try to appear inspiring.
Honestly, the only thought that has been helpful to me in the last week is knowing how badly they want women and queers and people of color to feel silenced and defeated and humiliated, and I find that excellent motivation to get out of bed and get very, very loud.
Right now we must recommit to doing our work. Not just because art helps us escape, which it does. People staggered into Sweet Charity all weekend desperate for community, catharsis, and to be lifted away form this reality. But art has and will always be a tool for education. And revolution. And resistance. We must use our art to make our community impenetrable from what seems like inevitable attacks to come. We must lift the voices of the under-represented. We must leverage whatever influence we have onstage, backstage, and in our neighborhoods, to raise people up of all races. We must double down on our efforts to diversify the stages all around this country and tell stories about people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations. We must demand gender parity, equal pay, and equal opportunity for women. To the women here tonight I beg you, help me and let me help you stand up to this new government sanctioned misogyny. We must not let this shred us. Our mothers and grandmothers worked hard to ensure a world where women had rights, dignity, and equality, and… someday, god dammit. Someday everyone in this country will look to women who lead with the respect and admiration we deserve.
Tonight is about raising money for young theatre artists and I thank The 24 Hour Plays for giving these young artists a community, an outlet for their rage and terror, and a way to channel their feelings and find a way to use their voices. And to all the young theatre artists here… use your voice. Please use your voice.
Refuse to be silenced. Make the work.
Turn your rage into action.
Find your inspiration.
Find your resistance and resilience.
Hold it close. Get loud.” — Leigh Silverman