Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Some Personal Reflections on the How We Should Respond To Events Surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombings

I have been wondering how to process my thoughts and emotions after Monday’s horrific events at the Finish Line of our beloved Boston Marathon.  I have volunteered at the Marathon for the past 15 years, so I feel a close personal connection.  Part of my job as a volunteer is to help to greet the Elite runners before the race as they come with their coaches to bring their special hydration bottles so that our team can place them on the race course at the appropriate spot at the appropriate special water stop.  So, I have come to know many of the lead runners.  I also am part of the team that mans the Elite water tables at the 40K stop, about a mile from the Finish Line.  I often get a smile of recognition from the runners that I know as they sprint past me as they pass this final water stop.  I was on my way from the 40K Stop towards the Finish Line when I heard the news about the bombing.  Bottom line – I feel a close personal connection to this world class race and this world class city.

The first few hours after the event were full of numbness and anger and pain and denial and wondering what would come next.  I began to feel encouraged when I learned that the MFA (Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts) had offered to open the museum for free access to the community.

MFA admission will be free today. We hope the Museum will be a place of respite for our community.

The Museum’s galleries and special exhibitions will be open. Drop-in programs, including art-making activities, tours, and story hours for families and children, will also be available.”
I wrote on FaceBook: “Let the MFA and the arts in general be a place for solace, reflection and healing.”

I just received this e-mail letter from Spiro Veloudos which embraces the same spirit I was wishing for.  I am pleased to share it with readers of The White Rhino Report:

An open letter from Spiro Veloudos

President of the Producers Association of New England Area Theatres 


My Friends, Colleagues and Patrons

The horrendous events surrounding the Boston Marathon have given us all great pause. We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the victims of Monday’s events. Those events have caused us to reflect on our community and our companies.

I have been reflecting on the events of 9/11 in regard to this week’s tragedy. On 9/11 the Lyric was rehearsing Sunday in the Park with George. We called the company and gave them the option to NOT come in. Only one person (then a spot operator but now still a friend) didn’t come in. Her brother was in the military. Upon later reflection, we all thought that being together, doing something that we love in preparation for an audience, was extremely healing for us.

Last night, we began rehearsals for On the Town. There was a very emotional moment during that rehearsal as we began our work on the wonderful song of love and loss, Some other Time. This morning I received a picture of Leonard Bernstein, the composer of On the Town, with the following words:

This will be our reply to violence:
to make music more intensely,
more beautifully,
more devotedly than ever before.

      Leonard Bernstein

Just exchange the word music for theatre and I think you have what most of us in Boston Theatre are thinking today.

The Lyric Stage Company will, during this weekend’s performances of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, be taking collections for, a clearing house for donations, created by Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino, which are being solicited in support of the victims of Monday’s tragedy. Our neighbor, The John Hancock Insurance Company, has committed to $1,000,000 for the fund. Assuredly we will not even approach that figure, but as all of us in the not-for-profit sector understand, “every dollar counts”

As President of The Producers Association of New England Theatres, I am asking my brother and sister theatres who are currently in production to do the same. It is my hope and challenge that not only the NEAT theatres, but all theatres — commercial or not-for-profit, mainstream and fringe, large or small  — will also consider doing a similar appeal. Individuals can also make a contribution directly to the website:

Terrorism wins when we stop living our lives. The week following 9/11, every theatre and performing arts group assembled in what was a parking lot (now the W Hotel) in the theatre district. We raised our voices to sing “God Bless America” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” two songs that mark what I certainly believe in and live for.

On behalf of the Board and Staff of The Lyric Stage Company we offer our sincerest sympathies to the victims of this truly senseless act.


Spiro Veloudos

The Producers Association of New England Area Theatres


Producing Artistic Director
The Lyric Stage Company of Boston

In like manner, the worldwide sports community have opened their arms wide to our city.  The Yankees had fans at The Stadium sing our iconic Red Sox anthem, “Sweet Caroline.”  It seems to be a small and symbolic gesture, but somehow it feels like one small suture in the long process of binding up our wounds.
The City of Boston has a very strange vibe today – part war zone, part ghost town, and part small village.  As was the case for a short while in NYC after the 9/11 attacks, individuals are far more aware of the need to reach out to one another with a word, a smile, a gesture of support.  It did not take long for the city of New York to return to a more “normal” approach to living lives of more quotidian isolation and hustle and bustle.   It is my hope and prayer that here in Boston, we can learn from our brothers and sisters in NYC.  I pray that we will see the opportunity to build bridges of trust and humanity and love to one another – not merely in the few hours and days after we came under attack, but for the foreseeable future. 

Our city has indeed come under attack, and many of us are feeling – individually and collectively – as if we are struggling up our own Heartbreak Hill.  Let us not allow the forces of hatred and darkness to overcome our common decency and humanity.  At the end of the day – at the Finish Line of our race together, let it be declared that LOVE was the winner.

Being there for one another and living in a more connected and loving fashion with one another is not a short term challenge.  Dare I say that this challenge is not a sprint; it is a MARATHON!  Keep pressing on.

Allow me quote part of a familiar passage written by the Apostle Paul to his followers at the Church in Philippi:

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me . . .” (Philippians 3:13, 14a)

God bless.


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