Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sense and Nonsense

"Anarchy, linguistic or otherwise, flourishes alongside another, equally pronounced strain in Seuss' work," writes A. O. Scott of The New York Times Magazine, "not of preachiness, exactly, but of unabashed moral seriousness."

Dr. Seuss was a follower of contemporary nonsense authors, including Lewis Carroll and P.L. Travers. Yet, his whimsical vocabulary and imaginary characters produced themes that mirrored his liberal political views during the mid 20th century.

Choreographing "Biggest Blame Fool" this evening, the cast of Seussical examined the philosophical tension between liberty and anarchy within society, a central theme of Horton Hears a Who.

To quote Scott further:

"The genius of Dr. Seuss's early books lies in how closely attuned they are to this tension -- how they delight in the liberties of the imagination without quite condoning anarchy. The author seems simply to have intuited an essential aspect of the developing psyche: as much as children long to wriggle free of adult control, they depend on grown-up guidance. Who else, after all, will read books to them? Literally, children are led on these voyages by a parent's voice, and often embark on them from the comfort of a parent's lap. The success of the trip depends on the strength of the tether that anchors them to the prosaic security of the everyday world."

Children of the modern era face this tension in more ways than even Dr. Seuss could imagine. The growth of technology has created an unprecedented opportunity for individuals to express their liberties,  most commonly on social media sites. Anarchy ensues when cyber-bullying triumphs. 

HCSMT's production of Seussical will present Seuss' themes for a 21st century audience. "Biggest Blame Fool" will reflect on the delicate balance between liberty and anarchy through the use of dance, acting, costumes, and multi-media. What would Horton tweet? Would the Sour Kangaroo rant on her Facebook status?

Source: A.O. Scott, "Sense and Nonsense." The New York Magazine. 26 November 2000.

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