In this issue, author Garth Greenwell suggests that “being an artist means trying to tell the truth as much as you can.” This theory is proposed in conversation with Hanya Yanagihara, who responds saying that their work as artists is “tough work…that it is uncompromising, not just in its subject matter necessarily, but because you have the sense that the artist is really forgetting their audience.” From the original transcript of a 19,000-word interview, I come back to this concept most, the idea of forgetting your audience. In one’s work – or in life for that matter – much of what we do and what we take a stand for is so often for an audience of some kind. It is sometimes what gets us out of bed. It is sometimes what keeps us awake at night. It is sometimes why we persevere. That determination, as Hanya puts it, “announces you have something to say.” In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando – and the tumult of our political and cultural landscape – our work suddenly takes on a different meaning. Now, the courage to take a stand is weighted heavily with expectation. Using our stage to express that “truth” Garth was talking about, is no longer optional. This issue examines our lives as artists and the performances we conduct, both on and off stage. Consider our cover mister, and Hamilton’s leading man, Javier Muñoz. Pressed to take roles that felt tokenistic, even stereotyped, Javi saw no point in accepting a gig unless it meant he could do it with his whole self: “It did not scare me to turn down an acting job and go back to my restaurant or work four other jobs to pay the bills.” While working on Hamilton, a show that has supersuperceded all expectations with an almost entirely non-white cast – Javi, who has been HIV positive since 2002, was diagnosed with cancer last year. In the worst of the remission, he tells us that what pulled him through was the motivation to get back on stage – not for the audience, but for the story. Stephen Galloway, dancer-choreographer-creative-movement-director, appreciates the power and the beauty in this resilience. Where no creative profession is short of obstacles, his had its do you convey to an audience that it's more than performance – it's your story. Like how Galloway gave the The Rolling Stones frontman “a vocabulary of movement,” making Jagger move like Jagger. Artist, Winston Chmielinski describes the process of inviting someone into his work as “alchemizing apprehension into enthusiasm.” He’s aware that his paintings and installations can be challenging, but that the viewer’s apprehension is natural – it is simply not their world. Winston’s paintings are for Winston, that much is true. Traditionally speaking, exhibiting your work removes you as performer. You are backstage, waiting to see if your truth means anything to anyone. To me, that is what it means to forget your audience. To not be governed by opinion. If you’re an author, an actor, a dancer, or a painter, the audience is an inevitability. What’s more important is that what you create has meaning to you. And if you’re lucky enough to have that story mean something to someone else, then keep going. Invite them backstage. Let ’em see you.