9/11 destroyed Americans’ complacency, our adolescent sense of invincibility, of immortality.

What has replaced these things?

A disintegrating society, the Internet’s illusion of intimacy, the disconnect between reality and virtual reality, and the prominence and power of political splinter groups.

America’s problems aren’t limited to our habit of putting on blinders where the rest of the world is concerned, tunnel-vision we indulge in unless some mega-celebrity televises/streams a big benefit show and asks for donations, in which case we ante up, at least until the next big show, or until we get distracted by some awesome app.

Hang on, what is socio-political rhetoric doing in a column about theater?

Theater is a major component of one artist’s solution to this country’s fragmentational ills.

If Eric Fischl wants to tilt at windmills, he isn’t alone. 150 of America’s most prominent artists have banded together with him as AMERICA: NOW AND HERE. Together, they mean to heal the rifts that threaten to sink us.

Spurred to action by the level of animosity that has gridlocked American civil discourse, Fischl is using art as a method of engaging people so that they will see and talk about the American experience in a new way.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more about ANH, and how we can all get involved in its journey.

For now, suffice it to say that artists, even otherwise nonpoliticized ones like myself, have a responsibility to give back and pay it forward to the land that made us.  We illuminate and amplify mundane existence, we draw people together by exposing frailties and strengths, and yes, we can help this great nation heal.

“The idea is simple. Let’s explore a theme that everybody shares and build a dialogue around it: America. We’ll start by sharing our idea and experiences through the art that we make. Now, it’s your turn. Let’s use art to have a dialogue about America.” ~Eric Fischl

In the coming weeks, I’ll write about a myriad of topics such as the initial installation of the ANH Tour and the crucial role playwrighting serves in this initiative, including my interview with Marsha Norman, co-curator of playwrights.

Please stay tuned.

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