Suzan-Lori Parks Has Some Advice for You

Photo by Eric Schwabel

When times are tough, why not take some advice? Especially when it comes from a perceptive playwright.

This week, New York plays host to the annual meeting of presenters, managements, and performing artists of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. (Be sure to check out the podcast interviews with some of the players.)

By this time next week, many of your local arts centers will have programmed their future season, bringing back favorites and introducing you to new artists.

To help inspire their choices, APAP gave the opening platform to one of America’s most remarkable playwrights, Suzan-Lori Parks.

Parks recounted her story from trying to write a novel in fourth grade, to finding her voice, to being surprised by the accolades that have followed her work.

Maybe you have already broken your new year’s resolutions, or even forgotten them. Either way, Parks has some timeless advice for all of us, especially in these difficult times.

  1. Entertain Your Far-Out Ideas: Don’t ignore them, don’t put them until retirement, but invite them in.
  2. Just say no to advice that doesn’t jive with your heart. Do say yes to advice that resonates with your heart.
  3. Practice listening. You’ll be amazed by what you hear.
  4. Don’t worry about being cool.
  5. Practice radical inclusion.
  6. Work to see yourself in the other person.
  7. Always realize the value of kindness.
  8. Enjoy the trip.

A new year, new season, and new hope — for the arts; and where there’s a renewed art, there’s a renewal in all of us. Don’t you think?

- Bill Reichblum

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