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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Wicked Reprise

Thanks to Karen Hall's obsession, I got to see Wicked again tonight and I got even more out of it the second time. I find it very clever and layered, although Karen and I were fighting in the inter-mission over how many of the sub-plots and characters have a deeper symbolism. (I want to know what the animals being silenced ultimately means, and Karen basically responds to that question, "Oh, will you shut up?" I guess that makes me the silenced animal? Is it too late to be a gazelle?)

I'm not sure exactly what the ultimate theme of the play is, but I do know that there is a strong theme about how it is in holding of our differences in tension that allows us to grow. This is true between individuals, and in a broader way in society. If you bring in the idea of good and evil, it's a reworking of the tares and wheat growing up together parable. It is certainly true in drama that you need the darkness to probe the light. Friendship, in Wicked is two very different people accepting each other without having to remake each other in their own image. That dynamic of acceptance allows both friends to become better versions of themselves.

There is a lovely song in the play that comes near the end and is all about this. It is a haunting moment because it is lilting music and a great paradox.

"For Good"
(from Wicked, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz))

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn

And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you:

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend:

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you:
Because I knew you:
I have been changed for good

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know
There's blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes the sun.
Like a stream the meets a boulder halfway through the wood.
Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea.
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood.

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better?

And because I knew you:
Because I knew you:
Because I knew you:
I have been changed for good.

Both times the song had me musing on the friends in my life who have changed me for the better, and for whom I am very grateful. (Listening R268? God love ya -) The play doesn't show the point of friendship as being remaking our friends. It isn't us being tactfully corrective that is the grace here. It's the power in sheer delight. Being delighted in propels you into being better. In a paradoxical way, being embraced as you are gives you the power to be able to change, as in grow.

Anyway, I liked Wicked again. It isn't the deepest play I've ever seen - I think Phantom has a more coherent symbolism and theme - but it definitely has a thing to it.