In 1947, Arthur Miller wrote “I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were...It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time— the heart and spirit of the average man.”
Hey, Azuka friends & family. I’ve returned from the exotic and tropical spring break vacation destination of Willington, Connecticut, and am eager to return to my duty as your dutiful Azuka blogger. What’s new with me? Well, I’m back in classes at Drexel. In fact, I’m taking a Theatre-focused English class. Goes without saying that it’s right up my alley.
Being involved in a professional theatre company has been huge for my understanding of and appreciation for the industry and craft, something I’ll be continuing to hone for the rest of my life. So it’s interesting to return to a class such as this one with a bit of a fresh perspective.
I feel like I write a lot about Azuka’s motto here, “Outcasts and Underdogs”, and I don’t want people to think I’m overdoing it. I mean hey, it’s a big part of the company, saying it’s like saying “Azuka Theatre” itself, you know? Plus, it’s an idea that obviously means a lot to me. And keeps presenting itself to me in different ways.
In his essay “Tragedy and the Common Man”, Arthur Miller totally makes a classic case for outcasts and underdogs, for the idea that the conflict, suffering, and, indeed, lives of the voiceless classes are just as important as those of some ill-prophesied king. Rough and stubborn longshoreman Eddie Carbone and the illegal immigrants he and his modest family are harboring in Miller’s A View from the Bridge are hardly twirling golden scepters. But the weight and scope of their tragedy is royal. 12 year-old neighborhood do-badder Goon from Azuka’s own Ready Steady Yeti Go is about as far from blue blood as you can get. But his struggles with young love, a fraught relationship with a brother hiding dark secrets, and his own imperiled reputation, are resonant and powerful themes that deserve attention. No one is going to argue that. Not in this day and age, at least.
I’m really glad that theatre has evolved to better represent the vast spectrum of humanity and society, and that Azuka is such a strong part of that both in its material and its operations. I think especially at this point in time in America, where we are under the wealthiest ruler of our lifetime, and one who is sizing himself up as a king, we deserve to hear from those who should be kissing his feet. But they're not. They're living kick-ass stories.
“The Greeks could probe the very heavenly origin of their ways and return to confirm the rightness of laws. And Job could face God in anger, demanding his right and end in submission. But for a moment everything is in suspension, nothing is accepted, and in this sketching and tearing apart of the cosmos, in the very action of so doing, the character gains "size," the tragic stature which is spuriously attached to the royal or the high born in our minds. The commonest of men may take on that stature to the extent of his willingness to throw all he has into the contest, the battle to secure his rightful place in the world.”
Amen. So happy to be back here at Azuka, and I look forward to writing about our next production with no Napoleons in sight.