Outside

How could I say no? I want to encourage going to the arts, so when M asked (please, pretty pleeeaaase?) if we could go to the opera on Friday, I agreed.

I believe I’ve mentioned before, being accused (in my life in general) of lacking gravitas. I also tend to view things for “entertainment” as things designed to entertain me. Since I don’t find human sadness or suffering as cause for “entertainment” per se, that often leaves only one choice of media for me to enjoy.*

Not M. He likes entertainment to make him think and re-evaluate his life. He likes watching human suffering come to a head, where the underdogs overcome their oppressors. He likes experiencing the same journey as the main character, through all its thick and thin; he likes being there with them through their sorrows and their triumphs.

So, naturally, we went to see Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, about an outsider in a small community who is ostracized for something that isn’t really his fault. However, the rumors of the town villify Peter Grimes to the point where he cannot handle the destruction of his dreams, and he goes mad. And yes, the ending is NOT happy (spoiler alert…).

To be fair, M has been hoping to see this opera for months now, and I had almost wiggled out of it, by asking my in-laws for a visit (my FIL would have really enjoyed it, he and M being similar in their ideas of entertainment), but alas–the plans fell through, and who had M but me to go with him? So I did.

Afterward, M and I went to get chocolate (I insisted), and we discussed our thoughts about the main character (“Was he deserving of the townspeople’s censure at all?”), the townspeople (“Were they gross misrepresentations, or at least understandably depicted?”), and–of course–the ending (“Was this a good ending for the story? Did it fit?”). Part of consuming entertainment designed to make you think and (possibly) re-evaluate your life, is that we often need a person with whom to process and think through our responses to what happened in the story, or what we think should have happened. Here’s my summary:

I understood the outsider character; we’ve all felt like outsiders at one time or another. Britten, as a conscientious objecter during WWII certainly felt like he was looked at differently and/or scorned for his beliefs. While the main character was not blameless in his actions, he did not deserve the epithet the townspeople assigned him, and–what’s more–some of the grossest characters were townspeople who outwardly (and loudly) professed their own piety and uprightness. The entire group was driven by the rumors surrounding Peter (even Peter himself), and based their actions in these whispers, which eventually led to the *ahem* tragic end. I disagreed with how the tragic end was brought about, but M argued it was the only way.

On Saturday, we rented “Hairspray” from the library. Much better.

Keep others in mind today, Reader. Who knows, but that we can give some hope to someone suffering as an outsider.

—————

*The only exception to this is books, of course.

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