Tonight, Bob, Jaime, Daniel, and I enjoyed a live performance of Les Miserables. So wonderful! I had seen it in Lincoln, Nebraska, so this was my second live performance. The moving story, the beautiful sets, and the soaring music were a delight. We all enjoyed it, although Daniel joked it was like getting “raped by Walt Disney.” hehe We’ll have him culturized yet!
A special treat tonight was the venue–the Gammage Theater on the ASU campus in Tempe. After dinner on Mill Avenue, we walked to the theater. Designed by one of my favorites, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Gammage looks like a pink wedding cake. It’s said to be accoustically perfect.
It’s sad, but even on a perfectly marvelous evening, politics raised its ugly head. In tonight’s performance, Eponine was played by a Black woman, and she had the weakest voice in the ensemble. This is not true to the story because, in the story, Eponine is not African-American but the daughter of two white parents. An important part of the plot is that, until Jean rescues Cosette, both Eponine and Cosette are raised by that particular set of parents. So what we saw on the stage just didn’t ring true. It’s not a question of racism; it’s a question of the fictive dream. A theater-goer wants to get lost in a fictive dream and feel emotionally:
“I am one with these characters during the Revolution in 1832 France. I feel their pain.”
Tonight’s theater-goer was continually yanked out of that fictive dream to think intellectually:
“How come that black girl has two white parents? Was she adopted? Oh, never mind, I’m not supposed to question it. I’m attending a play in Phoenix in 2011, and isn’t it nice that we’re all color-blind and ‘politically correct’!”
Despite this irritation, I still managed to enjoy Les Miserables. Hearing that gorgeous music in a beautiful setting was awesome and inspiring!