The production was designed with a Dustbowl Circus theme, complete with its very own impressive set of magic tricks directed by Teller (of Penn & Teller), original music by Tom Waits, and some of the most incredible choreography I've ever seen for the dual bodied character of Caliban, designed by movement troupe Pilobolus.
Although the whole play buzzed with electricity and beauty, it was the ending that I was most anticipating. Prospero's daughter Miranda has spent most of her childhood living on the island, isolated from the mainland, and thus most other human beings. When she finally gets to meet the group of shipwrecked souls from Naples, her wonder is palpable. I can still feel a shiver when I recall her words at seeing such strange and wonderful creatures for the first time.
“O, brave new world that has such people in't!”This might be my favorite line of all of Shakespeare''s words, for it nearly perfectly captures the awe and strangeness of encountering a human being previously unknown to me. Of course, there is some irony in Miranda's pronouncement that all human beings are "goodly creatures", as she is yet unaware of their flaws and their dark deeds. But there is still something so powerful about seeing new people as fascinating and beautiful. I think this is much needed in our world today.
“O, brave new world that has such people in't!” I say this phrase to myself almost every day. When I look back on the lifelong friends I made at Emerson College who have become my tribe, when I watched Richard Linklater's masterpiece Boyhood for the first time in the theater, when I find an unexpected friend at a job I never expected to be in, when a total stranger offers me his seat on the subway. How can such people exist that have the ability to surprise you, support you, love you, trust you? Marveling at it brings me so much joy.
“O, brave new world that has such people in't!”Lately, I have said this more often because I am right smack in the middle of interviewing people across the country for The Perpetual Visitors Theatre Company play about the American Dream. I leave each interview feeling like my heart has been blown wide open by the stories complete strangers and close friends alike share with me. To talk to a close friend and hear their deepest dream for their life for the first time transforms our relationship. Listening to a complete stranger cry when they tell you what their hope for the future is becomes something that escapes words.
Human beings are capable of some truly awful deeds. I have no doubt about that. But it's a double edged sword, because human beings are also able to knock you over with their courage, their kindness, their creative prowess. I am grateful to be here on this planet with you. I hope you know who you are.
If you need some inspiration for renewing your love of humanity and the completely unique stories human beings hold, check out some of my favorite links below:
Humans of New York offers a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account that brings you one New Yorker at a time.
Portraits of America is quite similar to Humans of New York, except the stories come from all over the U.S. Think of it like a "storytelling roadshow".
Narratively is a magnificent platform that commits to sharing "untold human stories". Their site is quite extensive and covers human stories from around the globe, including photos, articles, and the like. You can also subscribe to their email list to get all the latest essays.