Monday, February 25, 2008

Defy Gravity

A city girl trapped in the suburbs must occasionally escape to the big city, lest the perennially quiet nights drive her mad. So we packed up and drove back to that same old place, sweet home Chicago. And it was good to fall asleep to the sounds of cars and the occasional siren. Yes, it was cold. But my husband is not from Chicago and it is impossible for people like that to understand how truly cold it gets there. It is something a person has to experience for themselves. Despite the cold, it was good to be home for a few days.

On Wednesday my mom treated us to our first baby free night and we went to see Wicked. I'm a sucker for big, splashy musical. I think belting out a show stopping tune with the orchestra going and people dancing around you must be the most fun thing in the world to do. Especially if you get to fly around while it's all happening. Too bad I can't sing or dance. The show was great. I read the book a few years ago and it was interesting to see how it was interpreted for the stage. It got me thinking about the whole process of communicating ideas. When I read the book, I wouldn't have immediately picked it as the next big broadway hit. The book is actually pretty deep. It deals with issues of intellectual freedom, individual rights, perceptions of good and evil and abuse of power. The characters have intense and heavy conversations. And somehow, the writers managed to translate this all into twnty or so toe-tapping song and dance numbers. I was impressed with how they managed to maintain the essential themes of the story, while communicating them visually. iIt wasn't an exact translation of the book. But it was still effective.

So this what I'm trying to do with my work right? I read something, or hear something, or come to an understanding about something. And I try to communicate it with color and line and texture. Not a literal translation. But one in which you get the gist of the idea. And maybe by translating a key idea from one format to another, you've touched people on a different level. I know the song the main character sings as she takes her place as the Wicked Witch of the West hit me in a different place than the speech she gave in the book. I was moved in both instances - but music moves you in a different way than words on a page. Good lighting and flying help too.

If I go back and look at "Weeping May Spend the Night, But Joy Comes in the Morning" or "I Left My Thimble In El Segundo", I have to ask if I effectively used the language of this medium to communicate the ideas. And going forward, I have to try to remember that you don't always have to show people what you are thinking. Sometimes, it is better to make them feel it.

I also learned that I was pronouncing Elphaba's name wrong. It was Hermonie all over again. Also, I think I need to get my hands on a magic wand.


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Karoda said...

I've only been once to Chicago to hang out and loved loved loved it for the short time I was there. Wicked has been on my bedside shelf for awhile and I want to see the play also. All a part of that ever growing list of things to do before I die ;)

In your first quilt I can see the joy coming in the morining very well...the second one looks festive and like a celebration to I'm guessing you had a great time in El Segundo?!

City Girl Quilter said...

I've never actually been to El Segundo, but I went to college in that general area. And I had fun in college, which is what the quilt is about. It is actually meant to reflect a song by A Tribe Called Quest called, "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo." That song reminds me of being in college and driving around listening to music. So you got it!

Here's another question. How much of our work should we explain, and how much should we leave for to the viewer's imagination? Like that Carly Simon song, "You're So Vain". Would we have as much fun with it if she told us who the song was about?