Philadelphia is a place of enthusiastic, passionate, sometimes absolutely insane folks. I can’t really think of any major events recently that speak to that...ah...hmm. Anybody? Can anybody think of anything? I’m drawing a blank.
As a student who moved from home in Connecticut to the Drexel campus here in The Big Cheesesteak, I’ve only lived here for two and a half years. But during that time, I’ve marched in political rallies, I’ve shopped at street fests, I’ve attended the Barrymore Awards ceremony, and I’ve watched carefully from a distance a, from my understanding, fairly sizable parade of sports fans. And all of those things have demonstrated to me something clear and evident: the city’s sense of community. In our John Hughes high school memories, the jocks might’ve picked on the theater geeks, but this past year whether Philadelphians were rooting for the Birds at the Bowl or Stupid F**king Bird at the Barrymores, I saw that they all had something in common: they care.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that the Philly theatre scene is a beautiful monster. In fact, we are in the midst of Philadelphia Theatre Week, a slew of performances, panels, and other exciting events for the city’s avid performing arts consumers. One of my tasks as dutiful Azuka intern the other week was to put together a list of these events, and oh my God it is a list. Dizzying, overwhelming, but incredibly exciting and inspiring all at the same time, and that’s how a town of top-notch theatre should make you feel.
But because of that, it also seems like it’d be easy for people to get swept under the rug. We’re friends, right? I feel like I know you pretty well. So I’ll be honest: Azuka’s not the biggest fish in the pond. It’s just the truth. That’s what happens when the theatre scene looks like this.
So why then on opening night of The Gap this past fall did I see enough Philadelphia theatre professionals in one room to make me feel as terrified-and-insecure-yet-also-excited-yet-mostly-terrified-and-insecure as that theatre geek asking out that jock in that John Hughes movie? Why does it suddenly look like we’re the coolest kids in town? Why is the scene diverse and not dominated? Motley, not monopolized?
Just one simple reason: Tom Brady is a complete --
Sorry, sorry, no -- that’s. That’s not right...I mean, it is -- right, it’s just...the point I’m trying to make is: We’re not really a fan of big shots and bullies. We don’t have time for that. We’re not interested. Because that doesn’t cultivate the stunning array of artistic achievement that I think of when I think of Philadelphia. And that doesn’t get us anywhere when we’re trying to beat an NFL empire. Sweeping somebody under the rug means missing the performance that spoke to you like nothing else did. It’s taking a bathroom break during a game-changing touchdown. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and you can see it at the top of this website: Azuka tells the stories of outcasts and underdogs, and there is no better place for us to be right now than the city of Philadelphia.
Underdogs get the job done, America. Sorry to have to break it to you, and on live TV broadcasted to millions at that. Whether you’re a college artist or a little league receiver, Philly isn’t gonna let you down. We don’t look after the little guys, we rally around them. We scream for them. We drink enough beers for them to make us forget why we’re screaming in the first place but you know what we’re gonna keep going anyway. When I went to the Barrymores I didn’t see Downtown Abbey dukes shaking hands and sipping scotch, I saw a room full of raucous laughter, standing ovations, and tearful tributes shared by a community of strong, dedicated people. And I don’t think I have to fill you in on the other weekend’s strong, dedicated people.
I’m proud to live in this city, and I’m proud to be a fan of the culture that comes out of it. So let’s raise a glass -- or the cheapest can you could find to satisfy thirty people in your living room -- to our crazy community.