Sunday, January 03, 2010

"Peter Pan."

When I was in the 4th grade, I started a dalliance with being a thespian first sparked by my role of Bob Crachit in our holiday performance of A Christmas Carol. Productions put on by 4th grade auteur and English teacher, Mr. Cassidy. (Actually, this isn't entirely accurate. My first introduction to acting actually came in the form of playing a one Mr. Jack Rabbit in the second grade, a role and name that would be unearthed once I got to college and would stick with me through my entire college radio career...but I digress...that is a story for antoher day...)To contrast my role as one of the touchstones of Victorian literature symbols of fatherhood, in the annual sprig production at AES (which up until that year has always been The Wizard Of Oz), I was cast as one of the Lost Boys a role with lines that were specially created for me. Was it some kind of conscious effort to expand my range as an actor by the venerable Mr. Cassidy? Probably not. But the irony of playing a father providing what little he can for his family into a boy who is quite literally "lost" and will never grow up is not lost to me today.

Sure, I'm probably over-thinking things that happened in the 4th grade, but we look for meaning in life where we can find it, whether it was intentional or not. There's something very deliberate, for instance, that in the role of Peter Pan, Mr. Cassidy cast in much the Broadway-Mary martin- wheelhouse, a girl in the role of Peter Pan. Despite what you think, there's something blissfully anarchic to me in casting a girl in the role of a boy who will never grow up, especially in 1986.

Anyways, I digress. Again.

For all the Freudian nightmare analyzation you can do with Peter Pan, maybe the most important part of the play, or at least the part that has stuck with me all these years later, has nothing to do with the concept of the man-child, but in the concept of believing. You see , the death and resurrection of Tinkerbell exists as an almost pre-modern, "The Secret. It's the PMA HR always talked about with Bad Brains. Sure it sounds like New Age bullshit on some level, but it's not. Maybe it's the fact that it' surrounded in the context of a children's story, a Victorian fairy tale. Maybe it's that there's something much simpler to it when we look at it in the context of the story of Peter Pan, and Peter Pan asking us to believe in faeries. Simple caveat to that though would be sometimes it's not enough to think. Sometimes actions have to follow thinking, wishing, wanting, whatever contextual action word you want to put on that whole thing.

Sometimes wishers, dreamers, thinkers...sometimes they are left behind.

Anybody whose accomplished anything in life has enacted on their thoughts and dreams and wishes. No one can sit in their living room and simply will things to happen. Even Peter seemed to give some kinetic energy, some of his "magic" so that Tinkerbell could live.

Anythiong can change for you at any time. I followed up my thespian aspirations a few years later, acting in a one MR. Gorey's adapatation/musical (I don't remember if there wa smusic in this one although I think there was) of The Gift Of the Magi, the old O'Henry story about two people who meet the ultimate irony at Christmas when trying to think about each other. Then I got cast as King Arthur in the school production of Camelot, a grueling 4 months where the whole play was put on the shoulders of a 7th grader who was after school every day and in almost every scene. I retired after that mostly because I felt like I was terrible, no matter what everyone said to me. (Of particular interest was Opening night where I completely froze up and lost entire parts of dialogue on stage. After lambasting me and yelling at me to get it together, I lost it and Mr. Gorey related a story about how Richard Burton has once pissed his pants on stage so anything I did couldn't be that bad. That story always stuck with me...kind of like when your told to imagine people in their underwear if your nervous. Through all the bands I've been in and performances I've done since, I've never had stage fright, despite my need to retire from acting when I found it really interesting at the time.)

Point being. Do. You need to do. It's all you have.

I think one of the things I want to do this year is fail. Because failing is not the negative I've put on it my whole life. The negative is never to try. Trying,is the same as wishing is the same as hoping, is the same as what Peter Pan asked us all to do way back in the 4th grade. I've always had this implicit fear of failure that I've incorrectly always just made synonymous with rejection. Failure and rejection are mutually exclusive.

When Peter Pan asks us to believe in faeries, he's asking us to believe in ourselves. He's asking us to chance failure, for the chance of something better.

I've got no problem believing in faeries.

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