The Daily Gamecock

Local theaters stand up against intolerance

Trustus Theatre and the USC Department of Theatre and Dance are taking part in a nationwide ceremony against intolerance Thursday night, the eve of the presidential inauguration.

The ceremony, called the Ghostlight Project, features a wide range of theaters from across the country, all gathering to promote inclusion and diversity.

The Ghostlight Project action statement says, “Inspired by the tradition of leaving a "ghost light" on in a darkened theater, artists and communities will make or renew a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone — regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

Trustus Theatre’s co-artistic director Chad Henderson said this is a pledge Trustus has been operating under for 30 years, and hopes to strengthen in the future.

“We are excited to join this initiation across the country and put our commitment out there again to show people this is what we’ve been about," Henderson said. “We’re going to really take a close look at ourselves internally and work for it even harder.“

Kevin Bush, the director of marketing and publicity for the USC Department of Theatre and Dance, said that the department became aware of the project over social media and instantly approved of what it stood for.

“It was easy to get behind this initiative, which comes after a particularly divisive time in our country and reinforces that belief of theatre’s importance in our community,” Bush said.

While the ceremonies take place the night before the presidential inauguration, both theaters claim their gatherings are not meant to be political.

“What it’s about is taking this opportunity to make sure that our community knows that, in spite of the vitriol that’s been a part of our national dialogue for the last year, in spite of threats that have been felt by various ethnicities or nationalities in our country, and in spite of the divisive nature of the lives we lead on social media, our theatres exist as a safe space,” Bush said.

Henderson echoed this sentiment for the gathering at Trustus.

“It’s not partisan in any way. It’s not anti-Republican, it’s not anti-Trump, it’s not anti-Democratic Party. It has nothing to do with the politics,” Henderson said.

Both ceremonies will feature speakers followed by the lighting of a ghost light to signal a renewal of their pledges to speak to and support all people. Participants are asked to bring a phone or flashlight to participate in the gathering.

“Our theatres and our events are for everyone, and that truly means every person,” Bush said. “When you see a play or a dance concert, we encourage our audience to step outside of their reality and experience life from another vantage point, or be open to seeing things from a different point of view.”

The Trustus ceremony will take place outside the side door at Trustus Theatre and USC’s ceremony will take place at Longstreet Theatre on campus. Both events start at 5:30 p.m.

“If anyone is having any hesitance about joining us or joining the event at the University of South Carolina, I think they should realize that this really is a moment of brotherhood, sisterhood,” Henderson said. “It’s looking out for the greater good of humanity.”