Lessons from RENT!
The broadway musical!
A journal by Julie A. Prough (aka the Humble poet)
Rent has been my favorite musical since 1996. Rent is a rock opera about a group of struggling artists living in New York City; most of them are living with HIV/AIDS, during a time there was no health care or support to treat individuals with HIV/AIDS.
Rent playwright Jonathan Larson's goal was to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A lot of Jonathan's friends died of AIDS. He wrote Rent because he wanted his friends to be remembered. He also wanted to change the face of musical theater by attracting the MTV generation. Sadly Jonathan did not live to see the success of Rent. He died unexpectedly January 25, 1996 of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm. This day was also the opening night for Rent. The message of Rent is to live in the moment- no day but today. Jonathan's death is a reminder to make the most of what we have in life.
It also reminds us to reach out to the community by helping others and treating all people with loving kindness.
I have seen a total of three live performances of the Rent tour! I love the energy of it; which has very powerful music and lyrics. Rent has all styles of music such as rock, pop, tango, and gospel. As well as a strong message of equality and acceptance.
The performance I went to this past February 1, 2007 in Athens, Georgia was the most meaningful! A one-night only performance at the Classic Center was dedicated to the memory of University of Georgia's (UGA), Theater and Film studies major Martin Holubar. It was the day after which would have been Mr. Holubar's 21st birthday. A self-described Renthead, he attended as many Rent performances as he could since age 9. In 2005 Mr. Holubar died unexpectedly in his sleep from an epilepsy condition, the night before he was to perform in a local theater production. A scholarship has been set up in his name at the University of Georgia for Theater and Film Studies, undergraduate students. For more information call 706-542-9867.
Rent has also effected me emotionally! Every time I listen to the soundtrack or read the book it brings tears to my eyes. One of those scenes is when the character Gordon, named after Jonathan's friend who died of AIDS, sings the song Will I? The lyrics to the song are as follows; "Will I lose my dignity, will someone care, will I wake tomorrow, from this nightmare?" Questions Gordon would ask Jonathan because there was no help for AIDS at that time. The song "Will I?" is also a song that would come to my mind when I visited nursing homes for my job. I would witness people not getting the proper care or attention. Very sad! Theorists claim that the president in power knew about the AIDS epidemic, but did not do anything about it until three years later. A well known super model from Philadelphia, Gia Carangi, died of AIDS in 1986. January 29, 2008 would have been her 48th birthday.
The Jonathan Larson foundation provides financial support to aspiring musical theater composers, lyricists, bookwriters, as well as non-profit companies. For further information or to make a donation call 212-529-0814.
A scene from Rent, Life Support, is based on a New York organization called Friends in Deed. This organization helps people with life-threatening illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc. A crisis center that provides emotional and spiritual support programs to cope with these circumstances. For more information or to make a donation call 212-925-2009.
New York Theater Workshop (NYTW) is where Rent began as an off-broadway production, before moving to broadway, at the Nederland Theater. NYTW mission is to provoke, produce and cultivate the work of artists whose visions inspire and challenge us all. To learn how to support New York Theater Workshop please call 212-780-9037.
In conclusion the purpose of this article is to remember Rent playwright Jonathan Larson, Renthead and theater major Martin Holubar, and Gia Carangi for the month of January and to share what I learned from Rent.
I hope that this article is a reminder to my readers to enjoy life and treat all living things with kindness.
"There's only now, there's only here, give in to love, or live in fear, no other path, no other way, no day but today." Jonathan Larson.