Charlie Sandlan – Maggie Flanigan Studio – 917-789-1599
Charlie Sandlan is the Executive Director and Head of Acting at the Maggie Flanigan Studio. Charlie discusses the importance of being an artist in the midst of criticism, rage and hostility.
I wanted to talk a little bit about something that I’ve been thinking lately and it has to do with artistic courage. You know, it’s very difficult to be an artist in this country. If you want to be a real artist you’re not going to be very well respected. Do you know the job of the artist is to stand tall and be able to illuminate all aspects of the human condition? Artists deal with the truths. Right? And sometimes the truth isn’t really appealing. Sometimes we don’t really want to hear the truth and our job as artists is to cut through the shallowness, the duplicitous, trite parts of who we are so that we can challenge society, challenge our brothers and sisters to think more deeply about how we treat each other.
I was thinking about the controversies that revolved around Dana Schutz and her searing and very eloquent painting about the murder and the lynching of Emmett Till and also the Julius Caesar production that’s going on right now at the Public Theater. These artists have engendered and a searing amount of criticism, of rage, of hostility. Dana Schutz, she received death threats. She received calls for her painting to actually be destroyed. People protesting outside of the museum. The Public Theater they lost major funding. Delta Airlines, Bank of America, they pulled their funding because they didn’t like an interpretation of Julius Caesar that reflected our current political climate. They had people charging the stage literally in the middle of production to interrupt it.
It made me very inspired to think about these artists and the courage that they have to be able to stand up amidst that kind of criticism, that kind of anger and that kind of hostility, and that is what our job is. I train actors for a living that’s what I do. I train actors and I train artists, and the first question that I really put to my students is what kind of artist do you want to be? You want to be an actor but what does that really mean? Do you want to be an artist? If that’s true, then what contribution do you want to make to your art if you really want to be doing this for the next 30, 40 years of your life? I’m inspired by artists like Dana Schutz like the actors and the whole production team of the Public because they make an example of what it means to have real artistic courage. It’s why we do what we do and we should never stop doing it.
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