The Daily Backstage: Manchester

Our world is slowly becoming a more and more dangerous place. 

Acts of radicalised terrorism are carried out on a daily scale that is staggering. And heartbreaking. 

The cowardly attack in the Manchester Arena was one of the most recent. That’s not news to anyone. I would be surprised if there were many people within the western world who had yet to hear about it. 

I read this morning about the tragedy of it. The word stuck in my brain for hours, percolating away. I had a problem with it – but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then I realised why I found it to be such an ill fitting description. 

It’s not a tragedy. It is a violation. 

This coward came into a venue, and murdered people who were listening to music. Men, women, children. Children. 22 dead and hundreds injured. Thousands more psychologically. An 8 year old girl, whose crime was going to, probably her first, concert, died on the way out. Killed by a nails launched from a bomb, tearing through her. That’s an image I cannot get out of my head. 

And before anyone steps up as they are so prone to do at times like this and say “pray for all the other places that are so frequently bombed, and all the other people that are killed” – those heroes are already popping up in my news feed, yes, those are violations too. We all know that. Some of them effect us more than others. It is not curious that those are the ones we talk about more. 

Interestingly the only time we ever hear from you “but what about…” folk is when you bitch about no one caring about all the other tragedy in the world. As if this atrocity could ever take value or meaning away from the rest. So I have a suggestion – either find a way to talk about it on the daily, dedicate your lives to raising awareness and combatting it – or do us all a favour and shut your mouths for a few days. 

The thing that hits home with this, for me, is that as a creative I put such high faith on a place like a theatre, or an arena being safe. The levels we go to as a performer to make sure that everyone both onstage and off is safe and secure is extremely high. 

As a performer; a theatre, or a rehearsal venue, or a concert hall, or even the big arena venues should be treated as sacred spaces. They are sanctuaries where people throw themselves down open and exposed in front of their peers, they create, and they perform, and they strive to use art to change the lives of the people around them. Through music, or voice, or image. They strive to educate, and improve. To bring people together. To make them consider and think and push boundaries. To unify.

This degenerate came in to the place that I consider holy above all others and he destroyed thousands of lives. He came into my temple and slaughtered children experiencing their first ever concert never got to go home and tell their friends and family about it. They never got to find the way that it subtley changed them as a person and they never got to see how art could change the world through them and the power of that shared experience. 

How many people now won’t let their children go out to have experiences like this? How many people will now lock themselves into their homes in fear? How much has the world lost because of one degenerate? Those lives extinguished so much before their times as a perversion of an idealogy. 

I find myself – strangely – agreeing with President Trump in my own grief and anger. Don’t worry – I am just as confused about this turn of events as you are, but then there is a first for everything I suppose. In his address on the bombing, he called the perpetrator an “evil loser in life”, which the media leapt on. It is worth noting however, that he also went on to say that he would not call them monsters, because they would enjoy it way too much. Trump copped a lot of flack for his evil losers comment, but I find it fitting. He may have said it because he lacked the vocabulary to create a better image, but for me it creates a strong and apt imagery. One that robs these losers of their power. 

The one thing I know – acts like this, violations of this nature. We cannot allow them to stop us. We cannot allow them to let us live in fear. 

My heart breaks for those we lost. And I cannot imagine the sheer pain of those that are left to figure out how to live their lives now. The stories emerging are powerful and harrowing. The stories of heroism and bravery are already being told. A homeless man sheparding children to safety. An aunt dying, shielding her niece from the blast. 

The world is becoming a more dangerous and uncertain place – but we cannot let these people or these atrocities dim our lights. We cannot. We must let it push us to be better, to be more inclusive, to love harder and fiercer and stronger than ever before. We must take that light, create with it, let it illuminate all of the dark places in our world. Because then there will be no places left for anyone to hide in. They will be exposed, and alone. As they should be. 

Create – in the face of all that is thrown against us. Create. 



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