I love the new trend in theatrical story telling. It speaks to a tendency that we as mere mortals fall prey to all too often, and that is the tendency to try to label or sort people into simplified categories. There is a laziness in moving through life this way. This isn’t a new concept. It has been a weakness of humanity since the beginning of time. Somehow it makes us feel safer, more in control, and perhaps a bit superior to lump our fellow sojourners in this walk through life into groups, much like we would sort a pile of papers…the ones worth keeping in this pile…the ones that can be discarded in that pile. We struggle with the greys of life, longing for the simplicity of a black and white world…
Pretty or Ugly
Smart or Dumb
Rich or Poor
Good or Bad
And then when reality hits and we are faced with a pile of greys that can’t be sorted clearly into one pile or another we will over look the tints and shades of that person and simply push them into one of our predetermined categories based on what is most visible on the surface.
This is a shallow, lazy, and completely inaccurate way of seeing others, and yet we are all guilty of it.
You see, no one fits in one single pile. We are all composed of swirls of lights and darks. We are all a mix of strengths and weaknesses. We are a composition of what we have learned, how we were raised, the things that have happened to us, and the truths that we believe, so when we naively try to sort others into categories of hero or villain we are doing a great disservice to them and to ourselves.
For no one is all hero.
And no one is all villain.
There are weaknesses and sins to be found in every perceived “hero” and greatness buried within each “villain.”
We are the product of our experiences and to judge another by a walk you haven’t taken is a very dangerous thing.
This reality is finally being acknowledged by society in a recent trend we are seeing in books, movies, and theatre in which the long established heroes and villains of literature are being reexamined and the other side of the story is being told. It is fun to look at these well known classic stories from childhood through different glasses. It is entertaining, but also affecting. It is a powerful reminder of the truth that no one’s story is as simple as it seems on the cover and unless we are willing to invest the time, effort, and compassion into excavating a bit deeper we may never see the hero hidden beneath the façade of the “villains” in our life’s story.
Two weeks ago we were privileged to be able to see this new trend in art play out on the stage of the Benedum Theatre in Pittsburgh when Grace, Molly and I went to see the Broadway production of Wicked.
Here is a synopsis of that incredible show:
“A vivid reimagining of the classic The Wizard of Oz, Wicked spotlights the untold stories of Oz’s most famous (or infamous) characters, namely the Wicked Witch of the West and her unlikely friend, Glinda the Good Witch. The show follows green-skinned star Elphaba from birth to college and through the life-changing events which eventually label her “wicked,” introducing spoiled rich girl Glinda, local prince and heartthrob Fiyero and even the Wizard of Oz himself, a troubled man very unlike the one you may remember. As Elphaba, a passionate political activist if there ever was one, fights injustice and seeks to undo the mistakes of the past, dark secrets and personal tragedies shape the history of Oz, paying homage to the classic Wizard of Oz story while simultaneously changing fans’ understanding of it forever. A cautionary tale about love, friendship, loss, hatred, envy and an unwillingness to accept anything that is different, Wicked effortlessly reveals that there are indeed two sides to every story.” -Broadway.com
It was an incredible night.
We were there with 50 friends from church after one of the ladies sent out a group invite last summer inquiring as to whether anyone would want to join her and her girls at the January showing in Pittsburgh and take advantage of the group rate. Toby and I decided to surprise the girls with Wicked tickets for their Christmas gift.
The night finally arrived and we were so excited. After a few hiccups (like leaving our tickets at home and having to back track) we finally made it.
The venue was as magical as the show itself.
It was so much fun to kept stumbling across friends that were scattered throughout the theatre as we found our way to our seats.
We sat with the Tame family and the girls each got to enjoy the experience with their besties from church!
The show was simply magnificent. I had goosebumps on my goosebumps through the entire thing.
The costumes, choreography, singing and dialog came together to take us on a magical journey as we saw Oz (and the characters within) through new eyes.
It was a perfect night with two of my greatest blessings!