May 10, 2012

WICKED thoughts

My husband and I (and BIL and SIL) went to see the musical "Wicked" last night. Before I get into my dissertation below (don't leave yet - it's actually pretty good), I want you to know that we got behind a horrible multi-car accident on the highway on the way to the DCPA. Worst. Traffic jam. Ever. We barely moved one mile in a whole hour. And we parked at Auraria Campus (only $3, people) so we had to RUN to catch the play. We were a few minutes late and we (including my husband and his knee with the bad ACL) were dying by the time we got there. We misssed the overture and the first number that introduced the story. Super bummer. The usher tried to fill us in what was going on. But we came in on the second song and enjoyed it from there. We are going to see this play again the next time we get a chance. Two reasons: to get the whole thing this time AND because it was just plain awesome! We will try to take some of our kids too.

What an incredible moving experience. Wicked. A Broadway musical that tells the story of the witches of Oz. I was moved way beyond where I thought I would go. I need to get my thoughts down to document this place where my heart has changed.

Here are a few of my thoughts on "Wicked the Musical". (Not that they are super mind-boggling or super original but they are worth a discussion). Pardon my randomness at times, too. Sometimes it's how I think.

*It was a great look into the mind of a girl. I pointed this out to my husband. Through the three girls (the future witches) NessaRose, Elphaba and Ga-Linda, I could see the negative thought patterns that we of the female race tend to put ourselves through. How guilt can be the thing that makes us function the way we do sometimes. Why we think the way we do. Why we sometimes think that we are always the ones to blame for things that go wrong. Or why we blame others for something that we need to examine.

*Every girl wants to feel good about herself. Sometimes a girl's self-esteem is the defining thing that contributes to her choice-making. It may seem like a frivolity, something that is minor and that should be not so important. Some things cannot be explained. But it is a fact that should just be accepted, even if it cannot be explained. That being said, it's not always so much about how a girl looks on the outside, but how she feels inside. The are different ranges for every girl. After Glinda tried to make Elphaba "popular", I could tell it helped. Elphaba did carry herself a little better and the confidence went up. She did not toss her hair quite the same as Glinda, but she did let hers down and put her own signature on her look. The difference showed in how she carried herself afterward.

Each girl represented a different peek into a the female brain and heart:

*Galinda (later changed by herself to Glinda) was self-absorbed and loved attention. It made her feel good to have all the attention on her. She was conceited, but she discovered that she did have a good heart inside. She "took on" Elphaba as a project out of the "goodness" of her heart. She actually was very kind and tender toward her. I did not have hard feelings for her. She was more complicated than people thought - she was not a dumb blonde. She just wanted to be happy. And wanted others to be happy with her. She was a good friend, but her weakness for needing attention and always having got what she wanted (including the boy she thought would complete her happiness), led her to make her choices to follow the Wizard in pretense of being the good witch "officially". But even when she has her happiness handed to her, she admits it doesn't quite feel how she thought it would feel.

In the end, she is protected in her "bubble" as she represents "good" for the people of Oz, who now need to look to a new leader.

*NessaRose (Elphaba's younger sister) was born with a disability, hers was physical. Others have disabilities that are not as obvious as a physical one. Others had always felt sorry for her and she had learned to feel sorry for herself. She also regretted having to depend on others for help. But she also did tend to blame her weaknesses and sorrows on others, and nothing anyone did for her was good enough. She wanted to be able to do things for herself and wanted someone to love her despite her disability. Eventually her bitterness at having to be at the mercy of her handicap led to her anger and poor decisions later. She ended up hurting the one she really loved and wanted to be loved by. Even when Elphaba healed her and took it all away, she could not have gratitiude for what was in front of her face. She was self-absorbed in a different way, in self-pity.

*Elphaba was born in sad circumstances, which she could not help. And it was obvious everyday and to everyone who saw her - she was green and therefore different and therefore scary, a threat to others. Her father had told her a child that her sister's disability was her fault. That her mother's death was her fault. She believed, as children do. We are so malleable and vulnerable when we are young, and these beliefs stay with us and can govern our decisions. She took the blame on herself for everything that went wrong. She found various reasons to beat herself up for her differences. One day she realizes some of her quirky habits are actually talents that could be used for good. She has good aspirations and intentions. She is very inspiring, as she is determined to rise above the "truths" that others believe and try to impose on her.

She begins to actively swim against the stream, to "defy gravity". "And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free!" She follows her instincts though constantly facing obstacles. She was the heroine in my eyes and my heart kept cheering for her. I saw the hope in Elphaba when she discovered her talents, and her feelings of unlimitedness.

She discovers that someone could love her and see her through different eyes. Things are looking good for her. Until she falls. Her instincts are "good" and she is acting on them, but not everything always turns out how we want them to, no matter how hard we try. She falls into her dark default of blaming herself - in the saddest scene of all when she "falls from grace". She decides that no matter how much good she tried to do, she was "punished" for her good deeds. It is hard to swim upstream after a while, and it's hard to see any progress you've made. Discouragement can be very powerful , especially when you feel alone. So she pronounces herself Wicked after all. That's what everybody kept telling her.

Was she just not strong enough? Did she just give up? Did she really just not have the strength to do it herself anymore? I hurt so much for her.

(The original Broadway version starred two of my favorite Glee characters, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth)

*The way girls' friendships work. Elphaba and Glinda "loathed" each other from their first impressions. We all have first impressions, it's just human nature. But their evolution was deep and beautiful. They fought, then loved, then hurt each other and forgave each other. They knew they had been in each other's lives for good reasons. "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

*So now that I have diagnosed these girls and become their psychologist (well, it's really just the way I see things - my perspective) I want to point out the statements made in the play about the psychology of why we are the way we are. Of who is to blame and what happened in the past. It tells the stories of the how the tin man, the scarecrow, the lion, and how they came to be who they were. Elphaba had saved him as a cub so "now he was a coward because he never learned to fight his own battles"! But that act was done to HELP him - and yet it becomes "blame" when we look at that "past". This alone proves that every sitation can be looked at in a different way. We need to be careful how we diagnose. Sometimes we use the past to defend or explain why the present is the way it is. But that is only ever part of the story.

*Also, the idea of people "deserving" their circumstance is a "truth" that needs to addressed.

*If I was to pick one word for the theme of the musical, it would be all about PERSPECTIVE. Not everything is what it looks like. We need to look at the moon from the other side every one in a while. Or at least try to. If we just try to see things for what they really are, or from a different perspective, we would see clearly that some things are just the way they are, just because they are. That some things are nobody's "fault", there is no blame.

There is a quote in the article of the Applause booklet that they gave us at the play, that sums it up like this: "The idea behind Wicked is that things are not as they seem...what you think you know, you don't really don't know the deeper story."

*Sometimes what we think is the "truth" is really just the the latest that society is accepting at the moment. People are fickle and one day what is truth can change the next day. Society's "truths" as a whole can be very misleading if the masses believe something. We do need to question whether or not things are really true and not just accept everything for face value.

*A good "take-away message" for the audience would be that Judgement is not always fair. It is not our place to judge who is wicked and who is good. We do need to follow the instincts we are given. But none of us should be judging each other for anything. Also, that Forgiveness is very important because we all need to be forgiven for mistakes so we can move on and progress. And to forgive ourselves. We can see "good" better that way.

*And finally my last thought. Costuming.

*Most people evaluate a play or musical when it somes to costuming in matters of showiness or elaborateness. Though that is very entertaining and fun to look at, I want you to know that there is more to it than that. This was very evident in the costume of the character of Elphaba.

Her evolution as the classic "evil Witch" that most people associate was so well done it was scary. This is one of the very reasons I chose Costuming as an emphasis in my major. A well-costumed play is one that is subtle in it's evolution of a character. An audience will not even realize the costumes are making it happen. (Off my soapbox now).

It started with the color of her face, then the hat she was given as a joke, then the broom that took the spell so she could escape. Then the cloak put on her by Glinda to keep her warm out in the Western skies where she would be hiding from the witch hunters.

Then. The dress - black and beautiful. It was mostly black , but if you looked closely, layers (HER layers) of color, dark and light, were wrapping around the skirt and bodice in a beautiful and very complicated design. (I kept visualizing the pattern pieces laying flat). Then her moss covered arms. She became the Witch and society will forever see her as the classic icon of the Evil Witch. That statement in itself shows how much we depend on the past and on our own schemas to govern the way we think and react to life. Bravo, costumers - well done on that. Her evolution was magic!

The set was amazing,

the munchkin costumes were eye candy, the singing was so powerful I was moved to tears (that's a calm way of saying I cried till my face was soaking wet) throughout the entire thing.

Have you seen Wicked and been "Changed For Good"?

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