Why #Dim4Kyle is Important

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The following text was written earlier today under the assumption The Broadway League would announce that they would dim the lights for Kyle Jean-Baptiste on Tuesday, September 1st. They instead chose not to make a statement at all.


 

People will argue against dimming the lights of Broadway for Kyle Jean-Baptiste. “He was only twenty-one.” “It’s an honor saved for those with long, illustrious careers.” “Are we going to dim the lights for everyone now?” To those who are opposed, I have to tell you: It’s bigger than all that.

The tragic loss of Kyle Jean-Baptiste has been felt far beyond the Broadway community — it has affected the hearts of young aspiring theatre people and theatre lovers around the world. His story struck a chord that moved thousands to cry out for this tribute. Bestowing him with this honor is a message to the future generation of theatrical performers and innovators that their voices can be heard. That they can evoke change. That not only was Kyle’s contribution to the community acknowledged, it reconstructed what is expected of Broadway beyond his historical debut in Les Miserables. The League’s decision to dim highlights what can be achieved when chances are taken on risky, unknown, or unconventional choices. It starts a larger dialogue.

I hope this single act can be replicated annually. I would like the Broadway League to take September 1st, Kyle Jean-Baptiste’s anniversary, and dim the lights in honor of every person lost within the community that year, no matter the extent of the career. A minute for the Joshua Parks and Victoria Mallorys, the stagehands and the press agents, the chorus members, production assistants, writers, associate choreographers, keyboard players, casting directors, producers, and anyone who has contributed to this art form that entertains, inspires, and most importantly: evolves.

At some point in the life of a person who has worked in the theatre, they have changed the life of someone else for the better. Not only did Kyle Jean-Baptiste make history, but he is a symbol for how great the future of Broadway can be.

9 comments

  1. Roy

    I posted online with exactly the things you said- this was a kid with one ensemble credit who was put on for a lead a handful of times. Sad as it may be, and as talented as he may have been (not having seen him, I can only accept other’s opinions) he does NOT deserve this honor.
    If they would dim for Kyle, they would have to dim for everyone- especially those who have spent the majority of their lives making Broadway a better place, on and off-stage- and people die every fucking week, if you haven’t been paying attention until now.
    And sorry, but how long has Les Miz been collectively on Broadway? 20 years now? At some point they will of course run out of the cookie-cutter mold of the original cast and will cast understudies ‘outside the box’. Just because he was the “first black man” or “youngest” or whatever adjective happens to apply…
    I like the idea of an annual dimming to honor all those we’ve lost (especially since the Tony Award producers can’t even do it properly- if at all- on the telecast), but where does it stop? And who gets to decide? Anonymous theater bloggers?

  2. Yoo

    To write that Kyle’s legacy will have anything to do with whether the lights are dimmed or not totally minimizes Kyle and his talent. What it does do is get your “name” in the media. But there’s books to be sold.. Who are you the dimming police? Most people will never remember if the lights were dimmed for Kyle, they will remember Kyle. Sounds like you’ll only remember if the lights are dimmed. Pathetic.

  3. Michael kanago

    Why is this an issue?
    Really?
    If they dimmed the lights everyday it would remind people to be human, whether they’re a Broadway star or not.
    A life is a life, right? ????

  4. Victor Grisiatis

    i really think you are WAY overstating his importance in the history of theater. tragic loss-YES! but who knows if this wouldnt have been his one moment of “glory” never to be repeated. other black actors have played traditionally white roles. he wasnt the first.

    • Riley Van Cleve

      But, he was the first African American Jean Valjean and also the youngest. He inspired those who do not generally fit the mold to strive for their goals anyway. Kyle was an excellent young man who died too soon and should be honored for his impact on theatre history and the world. #Dim4Kyle

    • emily

      he was THE FIRST black jean valjean in the history of broadway. i think it’s incredibly disrespectful of you to try to minimize his contribution to theatre history and say that he might never have done anything important afterwards – we don’t know what we could have accomplished in the future, but age 21 he had already broken barriers. it’s not your place to say what he could have done, and it’s an insult to his memory to argue that he wouldn’t have grown to become a proper broadway “legend”, victor.

    • George Chlada

      Victor, but for a show that has been a staple in Broadway history and he was the first and so far only Africa American to get to play the lead role is a worthy accomplishment.

    • Jennifer Fink

      It’s attitudes like yours Victor that prove even more WHY the lights should be dimmed. What you fail to realize is theater is family, a very large, very encompassing family. From the professionals that make it to New York to those of us that work at the regional and community levels; both on stage and behind it. When one of our own is lost, we should show tribute. We all have an importance to this community. #Dim4Kyle

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