I am I Don Quixote…The Lord of La Mancha…My Destiny Calls and I Go!
When I hear this refrain, I get all excited-tingly inside. And I’m not alone, apparently.
Last Saturday night I sat in a packed theatre with a bunch of other people, all of us watching Don Quixote’s magical quest unfold and letting it conjure us into a place of collective enlightenment.
Theatre has the power to do that.
In fact, somewhat coincidentally, one of my favorite quotes about theatre comes from the liner notes for the Broadway Revival CD of Man of La Mancha. In them the director, Jonathan Kent, wrote:
THEATRE – THAT STRANGE RITUAL, STRETCHING BACK OVER 2000 YEARS WHEREBY STRANGERS SIT IN ROWS WATCHING OTHER STRANGERS – HAS THE UNIQUE CAPACITY TO TELL US SECRETS ABOUT OURSELVES IN THE DARK.
Oh yeah. For years I’ve reread those words as I listened over and over to the soundtrack (and broke the CD case). Although I’d seen another production many moons ago, it wasn’t until I started listening deeply to the songs (and the incomparable Brian Stokes Mitchell) that the spell was cast and I was taken to that secret place.
And if you’ve never heard Brian Stokes Mitchell sing The Impossible Dream, well…you simply must. It will definitely be worth a few minutes of your time.
But I digress. I’ve also shared those words (about theatre telling us secrets about ourselves) with others during workshops and performances. I’ve noticed they loosen people up and help them enter another world, the world of imagination.
Which is where Man of La Mancha slyly takes us.
Into the backcountry of imagination. Urging us to look at the sketchy border between fantasy and reality. Posing the question, “What is madness and what is truth?” As Quixote/Cervantes asks:
When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams, this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash…too much sanity may be madness! And maddest of all…to see life as it is and not as it should be!
Maybe, just maybe, there’s room for a fine sprinkle of madness, a bigger scoop of imagination, in all our lives right now.
What do you think?
How do you navigate the border between fantasy and reality? Or is there even such a thing?
And have you ever experienced a performance that told you “secrets” about yourself in the dark?
WHY NOT START NOW?
By the way, if this looks familiar, it is. I wrote it over a year ago and it appeared on my blog in August 2009. Not many people saw it, though, so I’ve retrieved it for another go-round. Isn’t recycling great?
I love the secrets that I learn about myself in the dark which are often revealed by a performance such as you describe.
Boarders? We don’t need no stinkin boarders!
Ha. Thanks for this. Love the music, so powerful.
Good one, Mark! Thanks for stopping by.
Hi Patty! I love it when I get “messages” from somewhat unlikely sources – such as music, theater, books or whatever. As for the border or line between fantasy and reality – IS there one? Gosh, I’ll check that out! 🙂
Hey suZen – Let me know what you find out! Hugs back at you.
DQ reminds me of the belief that kids often have that anything is possible… they dream and dream, and it isn’t until later that adults tell them no longer to dream. What is wrong with dreaming anyway?
I too enjoy theater and what I find there watching or later reflecting. The Color Purple was Powerful for both my daughter and me when we watched and later and today.
Hi M – You’re so right…nothing wrong with dreaming. Even if the dream doesn’t pan out, the act of dreaming and fantasy is so rich in and of itself. And oh – The Color Purple – what a story.
Ah…wisdom that appears in the dark. A song spoke to me in an old movie theater when I was a little girl and then again later, on stage. ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ from the ‘Sound of Music’. It’s been with me ever since. Always have a dream. Always believe that it will come true. Let that faith bring magic in your life, for the good of all involved.
PS: Not listened to your song yet. Off to do that now. 🙂
Hi Maryse – Mmmm, I love the words you use here – dream, magic, wisdom. belief, faith. Powerful!
I have definitely experienced this. Many times, in movies, at concerts, and etc, I have been spoken too. It’s like another piece of my heart, or a deeper level of my spirit, is revealed to me that was previously unknown to me. Perhaps it is because that during such times, our minds have “let go” and have engaged creativity and imganination.
As far as a border between fantasy and reality? Who’s to say which is which? 🙂
Hi Keith – Love how you say that: “another piece of my heart.” Those moments in the dark sure do touch something deep within us.
Patty — I loved listening to Brian Stokes. There’s something about a Broadway song, like this one…I love how there’s that slow beginning and then things speed up and wah lah…the baritone voice hits his mark perfectly:~)
Regarding your question…I found out from my ex-husband, a psychologist, that when interpreting the MMPI, it can be a judgment call between who’s a very creative person and who’s person suffering from psychosis:~) I laughed when he told me this!!!
I think being creative means you have to step outside the box and be willing to explore things in unique ways. This means that sometimes you will not following “the rules” and I suppose this could seem a bit “odd.” Personally, I like my moments of creative insanity, when what I imagine is so outside the box, it seems impossible to believe, but marvelous to consider:~) That’s the power of imagination.
Hi Sara – Yes! I’m so glad you brought that up about the MMPI. And “creative insanity” is such a fine way to put it, and exactly what Don Quixote is talking about.
More brilliant writing! Well, a movie I saw in high school and then more recently revealed my thoughts about sanity. Did you ever see The King of Hearts about WW II? Your question reminds me of the premise about who’s insane and who isn’t. Sometimes, I think we’ve got the wrong people locked up. People get labeled insane because they won’t conform “behaviorally” for whatever reason. Maybe it’s the dutiful robots who have the behavioral problem or rather a lack of unique behavior. It’s even called deviance if you deviate from the expected behavior.
Reality is hypercontrolled fantasy as far as I can tell. As a kid, I drifted between the two a lot more than I do now. Did I really stash those gems I dug up in the dirt in my backyard or did I just imagine it?
I’m guessing fantasy is closer to our natural state. We come out of the womb utterly amazed at what we see, running around outside trying to touch and smell everything. Before long, most folks have been homogenized — made content to walk inside a windowless mall on sunny days and buy stuff they go home and cram into drawers, closets and buffet cases, then sell at a yard sale 25 years later for 1/64th the price.
how insane is that?
Hi G – I loved that movie. The perfect example of what I’m talking about. And this is priceless: “Reality is hypercontrolled fantasy as far as I can tell.” What a case you make for fantasy being our natural state. Everyone should read your feisty words!
Didn’t someone somewhere at some point talk about the idea that the whole world is a stage, and everyone in it bit players? I’m one of those bit players in the stories of those others I happen across within the context of my own story. In that sense, maybe there’s no difference between fantasy and reality at all. There’s the fantasy of what people think they know about me, and what I think I know about them; then there’s the reality of what I actually do know about myself, and what they actually do know about themselves. We’ve perhaps all of us got one foot in both those worlds, based entirely, of course, on our perceptions and the perceptions of others. In other words, there’s the real me, and the fictional me that I project to the bit players around me.
Phew… okay, that’s enough existential rambling for today! 😛
You know I love an existential ramble, Tony! Thank you. (Now the real me and the fictional me are going off to have a nice, long chat.)
Most certainly, I believe that there is such a thing as navigating the border between fantasy and reality. I do that when I tell my kids made-up stories, that bring real life into the fantasy world. I also find that theater does transport us into another realm in a way that speaks to our soul.
By the way, since you’ve mentioned, does recycling work out better? I am intrigued. I would be interested to hear if it has generated more response. Do you delete the old article?
Hi Evelyn – Great to see you here. Your example of telling children’s stories so perfectly illustrates the point. And kids are so good at navigating that border, don’t you think? As far as recycling goes, definitely yes, it generated more response. But there was so little response the first time that it would be hard not to improve upon it. (I spent my first nine months of blogging with my head down, just writing. Then I looked up and discovered an entire world of bloggers. Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure things out!) But no, I didn’t delete the first version, just added a bit at the end of this one, and of course added the word “redux.”
Hi Patty –
Long time no speak! I hope you are well and thriving as we move into the Fall. I love this piece about crossing over into imagination and dreaming the impossible dream. It is a timely reminder that we can’t control everything in life and that even when things seem great there is room for some sparkle and magic. Will certainly ponder how I can bring a little more into my life.
Hi Phil – How great to see your smiling face! And nice spin on the post – seeing the link between how letting go of some control often leads to some good old magic. You’re always spot on, my friend.
The performances that tell me secrets in the dark are generally musical, and often rock concerts. I am so inspired by musicians, who not only have to write the music and lyrics, but then get up there on stage and sing them. As a writer, I can hide behind my words if I so desire. Watching a concert in the dark, I thrill to the way we humans are draw, over and over again to create.
Oh yeah, Charlotte. Musical performances just rock my world too. (no pun intended.)
I definitely agree with these lines from Cervantes quote:
To surrender dreams, this may be madness…
too much sanity may be madness…
I think fantasy is closely linked with reality. Without fantasy, reality wouldn’t have any exciting possibilites.