We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
Everyone can see we’re together
As we walk on by (and)
And we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie (all)
All of the people around us, they say, yeah, yeah
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose -song “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
“Family is the theatre of the spiritual drama, the place where things happen, especially the things that matter.” -G.K. Chesterton
“You can go back to the house of Atreus in ancient Greece, all the way up to the families of modern 20th century American drama. The families of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams and the families of Sam Shepard for instance. There is hardly a play that doesn’t somehow reflect the tortured lives of families. When I joined the company in 1986, I had been friends with members of the company for some years before that. I knew John Malkovich and Laurie Metcalf and Rondi Reed and Randy Arney and Jeff Perry when they were in college. And when they first came to Chicago, many from Illinois State, I used to meet with them because my high school teacher Ralph Lane was their principal drama teacher at Illinois State. There used to be a restaurant in Evanston called Fanny’s and it was very popular when I was in college. It was an Italian restaurant run by a very flamboyant woman who also had a column in the Evanston paper. Dr. Lane would occasionally host a dinner for some of us at Fanny’s. And it was there around bowls of spaghetti and fried chicken that Jeff and others and Dr. Lane and myself would talk about the challenge of putting together an actor-focused ensemble and could it last. Could it endure? So I feel very privileged to have been kind of in the wings when the ensemble was being formed. And then during those first years when Steppenwolf was working in Highland Park Laurie Metcalf played Laura in The Glass Menagerie. And John played Tom. During those years I saw those shows and then I started acting in Chicago theater. Laurie and John both worked at a bookstore in Evanston called Chandler’s. And I used to stop by and chat with them. And they would say: you know you should do something with us. You should maybe direct something with us. It never worked out. I started teaching at Northwestern. I got to be busy and I did some acting gigs and so on. And then in ’86 Gary Sinise was artistic director and he asked me to direct You Can’t Take it With You. And I jumped at the chance. Oh my God, everybody was in it. Molly Regan and Amy Morton and Jeff Perry and Randy Arney and John Mahoney and Rondi Reed and Rick Snyder—my god, it was—Tom Irwin and Al Wilder. It was sensational. I would come to rehearsal and just sit there and watch! I don’t have to do anything. They’re so fantastic. They’re so good. And of course, you know, they were weaving together relationships, braiding in and out of each other’s lives. And creating a family. The family in that play You Can’t Take it With You was deeply reflective of the family that was Steppenwolf. The kind of sibling relationships. The rivalries. The cousins, the first cousins, the second cousins, the parents, the lovers, the children. I mean, all of those dynamics that were a part of the relationships of the Steppenwolf ensemble as it was coming to life and coming together were present and palpable lives of the characters that they were creating on stage.” -Frank Galati
I heard this acronym for family the other day….
The closer you get to making the artists you collaborate with feel like family, the better the art and, even amidst difficulty and conflict, the happier everyone will be.
Lose yourself in F.AM.I.L.Y
Love them and the art you’re all trying to make more than yourself.
P.S. – Warning…Don’t click and listen to this song link unless you want to get up and dance and feel good all day long.