My director's notes to my high school's production of 1776.
Every person has a birth story. Your parents, no matter how present or involved after you were born, have a tale of how you came to be. The day you were born, a group of people gathered to help make it so, and that story remains a part of the great archive of everything in the history of the world.
Every culture has a birth story, too. The creation of the United States is a Great Story of “Almost.” It almost didn’t happen. In fact, when you take the time to study the historical record, it’s easy to see that it probably shouldn’t have happened.
The colonists simply fought with each other too much.
In places like Facebook, Twitter, and in the media, the arguments of this past Presidential election are, actually, not unlike the kind had by the colonists 200 years ago. What should the government be in charge of? How powerful should political officials be? What should and shouldn’t taxes pay for? These fundamental questions of our nation are enduring and essential; your kids and your kid’s kids will likely be arguing them still.
Our Great Story of Almost added a chapter last week with the reelection of President Barack Obama. When we vote, argue, serve our nation, we are doing the same work as those who wrote the Declaration of Independence. Its future chapters will be written in the courage, strength, fears, and resolve of those of us who continue to pick up the legacy of the Founders of our Nation.
As I write this amidst the broken timbers, shredded power lines, and long gas queues of the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I can’t help but see our huddled community as not very different than that of the colonists. We are beset by challenges, split by ideology, and worried about the unknowable future. It’s been a challenging and bleak Autumn for many of us here on the Island.
But there is a hope. The students in 1776 have pulled together and endured. They lost power, hot water, stability, and Halloween. But they met in living rooms to run lines, practice dance steps and harmonies, and support each other. They’ve learned how to fix broken set pieces, verify historical facts about powdered wigs and military dispatches, and remain strong in the face of challenge.
These students are our colonists to the future. From what I have seen in these past weeks of trial and tribulation, our American future looks bright.
We will endure.
Welcome to the Masquers’ 50th Anniversary Season: The Season of Power.
Friday November 16, 730pm
Saturday, November 17, 2 and 730pm
North Shore High School
Glen Head, NY
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