Then this week I also WENT to a play...I saw Candide (oh, Leonard Bernstein, how I love your music) at the Goodman Theater with my friend Jenny. It was a very good show, capturing the spirit of Voltaire's novel and inviting the audience into the creative process of putting on the production. I found it funny and touching, inviting and depressing, strange and wonderful and beautiful and horrifying all at once.
And then this week at youth group we are planning a game that combines aspects of pilgrimage/labyrinth-walking, Cranium, and theology/bible/mission...in a life size board game. The game takes up the entire fellowship hall and we move around the "board" and have to answer questions or perform tasks at every square we land on. It will be awesome.
It occurs to me that these three types of play--personal, communal, and theatrical--are crucial aspects of the way we approach life. We need a little drama, a little problem solving, a little journey, a little laughter and a little stress and a little Bernstein music. We need to play alone (and learn to make our own fun and to amuse ourselves), we need to play with others (and figure out how to play well with others too), and sometimes we need to watch others play. One of the things I enjoyed about Candide was that the cast was obviously having a good time. They understood their roles in a satire to be filled with irony and subtle hilarity, and they were clearly enjoying it as much as we were. And if we never see others play, how do we learn to play ourselves? I mean, children play--at least, most (healthy) children do. They have active imaginations and lots of ideas and they play basically all the time. But at some point in our education or maturing process, we lose some of that. We lose imagination and wonder and wild abandon. Instead we play by doing grown up things like eating out or going to the movies or even playing video games (which, for me anyway, don't involve a lot of imagination or wild abandon--they are about figuring things out and accomplishing tasks to get points...which is still a form of being productive, if you think about it...).
But when we see others play, when we see a play, our imaginations are engaged, there are tons of possibilities, and we have to suspend reality for a little while. So ultimately, while the actors may be the ones playing a role, I think we are the ones playing--letting go and just having fun exploring an imaginary world for a little while. I'm glad I got to do that this week, and I am excited about seeing 2 more productions in coming weeks. May there be more play in all our lives...