I have been MIA from the blog. But I do have a new book out, as of Monday, January 24: History is the Hook: A Chronological Approach to Education, 2020! You can find it on Amazon in Kindle or paperback, here. Soon, I will finish the Easter Island series by discussing how we Create Change using History as the Hook.
Today, I want to talk about the theater. A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend two plays in the same week--Fiddler on the Roof, at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Every Brilliant Thing, at the Harman Theater in West Valley, Utah. Fiddler was performed by the Broadway touring company, and Brilliant was performed by a traveling company from the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Both were excellent, inspirational, and timely. I was reminded that I need to attend the theater more often, because my heart was touched and my perspective broadened.
Fiddler began with an almost-bare stage. A man entered, wearing a red ski parka, brown pants and boots, black glasses, and carrying an open book. As he spoke of the fiddler playing on the roof, he removed his jacket and revealed his shirt, vest, and prayer shawl, turning into Tevye. The last scene, where the townspeople are evicted from Anatevka, was also sparse, with only the wagons pushed by the families leaving. Tevye put his jacket back on, grabbed his book, and joined his family in the infinite circle of wagons going nowhere. I was touched throughout, by the universal truths of the story depicting personal, family, and community challenges. The story, which took place in the early 1900s, and was written and first performed in the late 1960s, is as pertinent today as it was then.
Children rebel; relationships become strained; groups of people don't get along; individuals are treated as a mob; and life goals are not always realized. Governments have the power to lessen the influence of, demean, or entirely cast out, certain ethnic groups. Tradition can be a firm foundation or a stumbling block to a better life. I was so moved by the performance of Tevye, and his daughters, especially, and I gained different lessons watching the performance as a mother of adult children than I did when I was a child, or young adult, or young mother. That alone speaks to the universality of themes in the work, and in drama itself.
The entire set for Brilliant was a few chairs. A contemporary one-person show, using lots of audience participation, it dealt with the topic of suicide in a matter-of-fact, but deeply thoughtful, way. In almost the same moment, many times throughout the performance, I was both laughing and crying. This production is touring Utah schools, helping survivors and their loved ones know that emotions and life trauma are inevitable, that someone understands and wants to help, and that we need to reach out in love to those around us.
I know I am lucky to be able to attend live theater--and I don't do it often enough. It always speaks to my soul. In both performances I attended, I was reminded that when we know the "others" story, we are less quick to judge. We are less critical of ourselves and others, because we realize everyone has challenges. We are all connected by our humanity. That is the overarching message of theater. If you are able, participate in the connection.
Bonjour! I'm Bonnie. I love learning, travel, reading, writing, photography, and all things French. I am especially passionate about agency education, the humanities, and using history as the hook for all learning!
©History is the Hook, 2021