Tuesday, June 23, 2015

If you're like me... Mourning the Wicked (a review of the play)

If you're like me, you do mourn the Wicked.

If you're like me, you are enjoying the trend of fairy tales retold: Cameron Dokey's Once Upon a Time novels; Mercedes Lackey's series 500 Kingdoms; Malificent; Ever After High; Phantom of the Mall; Witches Abroad. You like it when storytellers reference a fantasy you love, and give you a different perspective. (Of course, you ignore all the ones you dislike, which we shan't mention here because they don't really exist.)

If you're like me, you remember OZ fondly - both the original series by L. Frank Baum; and the world it became as other stories crept in to add depth to your Oziverse: movies like The Wizard of Oz and Under the Rainbow; the play The Wiz; the book Number of the Beast .

If you're like me, Oz is a  haven, a place for believers who need to escape. A place where no one dies or grows old (and no one is born). It is eternal, like a Neverland, or a Heaven.  Dorothy is 12 and sings beautifully;  Glinda is a calm, goddess-like woman who travels in a bubble; animals can talk; and there is a wonderful spa.

So when you heard that Wicked was OZ from the viewpoint of the Wicked Witch of the West, you were intrigued.

If you're like me, you tried to read the book Wicked, but found Gregory Maguire's writing style to be dense and depressing - nothing to do with the glory of OZ. So you shrugged it off.

Then the stage musical came into being. You heard some of the songs - "Defying Gravity"; "You Changed Me for Good" - and you thought, "Hmm. Theater is pretty awesome. Many of my friends like the show. All right. Let's go see the play."

I'd better put in a disclaimer here. This review (diatribe, soapbox) is not about the players, it is about the play. "The play's the thing" which to my heart such sorrow did bring.

And yes, this review contains some spoilers.

I saw Wicked at the Buell Theater in Colorado, in 2015. The performers did an excellent job. The set was astounding. The amount of tech work had to be huge. Kudos to everyone involved.

Except for the writers. And since I don't know how closely the play follows the book, I don't know whether to name G. Maguire or Stephen Schwartz & Winnie Holzman as the reason for my dismay. Maybe it was a combination. So I will simply use the title Author.

In my opinion, Author tried to destroy OZ. In writing Wicked, (s)he exchanged one malicious person and one wise woman for a race of vapid, mean, spiteful, selfish, nasty, horrible Ozians; and one (maybe two) persons trying to find herself(s).

Not a fair exchange at all.

And how distressing to be so transformed. Rather like the animals losing their voices, or being forced to fly.

It's true. Humans can be judgmental, scared, petty, conniving, finger pointing, blindly following, fear-based creatures. Of course, that's not all of us. Many of us can take responsibility and think for ourselves.

But more relevantly, OZ is not Earth, and Ozites (or Ozmites)  are not humans.

Perhaps the original story was a political satire. Maybe it was the first American Fairy Tale. It might have been simply a story for children. Regardless,  Munchkins, Winkies, Quadlings, Gillikans, and other Ozites do not have the same fears, needs, or morality that humans do. Perhaps the closest Ozites would come to humans are the human child -- open and wide-eyed, trusting in the awesomeness of Wizards, and believing in a pure division between Good Witches and Wicked ones.

The play Wicked appears to be a melodrama based on infidelity and a green potion. It certainly displayed the baseness of human nature. Did any one of the Ozians evolve into a better being than she started? Not that I could see. Everyone seems happy to be dragged into the fear-based world of evil animals and Wicked Witches. Even Glinda, who's original motives were pure and generally kind, became driven by fear and sorrow.

Oh, wait. I am wrong. One person evolves - Fiyero stands up for his heart. Yay! And is gruesomely executed for it. (What?!)

Worst of all, even though Author gave Elphaba a persecuted and tragic history, the supposed heroine never triumphed. Despite her battle cry of being unlimited, I never felt she truly found herself, or her center. I never felt happy for her. I'm not even sure Elphaba ever knew what she wanted. I think she would have been better off as the Witch who went after what she wanted by choice, than as  the hunted animal rights activist who made an aborted effort to right some wrongs.

To me, it seemed all Elphaba did was run away and regret her choices.

If you're like me, you mourn the play Wicked. But because you are more "Ozite" than "Ozian", you will always believe that Oz is a special world, suitable for children, comforting to the lost, and home for humans who wish to be more. Hopefully, Elphaba found her way there. And finally feels  beautiful. Brighter.

Truly unlimited.

I hope you have a fantastical day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sacred Silence

In my current stage of self-exploration and practice, we (path partners) use the word "story" a lot. It covers everything from the babbling of the monkey mind to the fear of the lizard brain to the personal soundtrack which runs rampant (at least for me) in witness mode.

Everything is an idea, and every idea can lead to a story. It's what I do. If I wrote down every story that enters my head, well, I'd have a lot of writing, though very little time to refine, publish, breath, even experience. Happily, not every thought which passes through my brain has enough pull to be writable.

Though, to be honest, I do have to write down a lot of stuff simply to remember it.

But the point, the practice, is to allow some stories to evaporate. To not write blogs, not make remarks, not personalize every  moment or event. To not dramatize any event. To allow the moment to be what it is, and to only be that moment, not all the rest of the moments of my life.

Is it ironic I am writing a blog about not writing blogs? Obviously, some of "allowing a moment" requires a posting, a writing it out, because I know what I speak is what I need to hear. Or because I really want to discuss it. Because it is an impactful thought, a thought which, if practiced, might bring me happiness. A thought which covers many moments.

There are moments for partying and yelling and screaming and dancing and crying and singing. Definitely moments for advising and teaching and entertaining. But there are also moments for silence. Moments that need no discussion - and in fact, trying to talk about those moments when there's nothing to say brings up all sorts of weird, unrelated, and probably wrong stories. And you're left, I'm left, with the feeling like I just pulled my world down around me and I’m not even sure where the angst came from.

Turns out, I created the angst, the drama. Because I had nothing to say, at the moment when the conversation came around to me. And since I didn't know to say "I'm still processing" (since I didn't even realize it was the truth), the monkey and the lizard and the storyteller and the singer and the mystic, all joined hands and spun a glorious story, attempting to match the deep contemplative state I felt.

And instead of shying away, saying "no thank you", I took that dramatic heavy story and ran with it.

As I said, it's what I do. I see the possibilities, I build worlds. I create stories.

Which means I now get to learn the advanced work of NOT using my skills; of knowing when to allow the silence.

Happily, I worked through the story. I saw it for what it was. It took time and the complete absence of other people, but I found the silence below the smoke screen and had to laugh at myself a little. And give myself a big hug. All that tortured drama, just because I didn't have anything to say, but wanted to join the party. Wanted to exercise my skills. Wanted to be involved.

Interestingly, because I do like to sing and dance and entertain, I really love the silence. The completeness of the moment when there just is. And yeah, being a Doctor Who fan, and a Buffy fan, I had to work a little to not cringe at "the Silence".

But this silence is choice, not infliction. And that does make all the difference. I can be involved in any experience, any moment, just by choosing to be. I can say "I don't have anything to add" and still be in a moment. Even if the moment is hugely story worthy, it might be a story that's only really relevant to me. It might be a story full of moments that can't be voiced.

I am a story teller. It's what I do. But I can walk away from the moment without any additional stories to tell.

I can be silent, and so be true to my voice.