Upon reflection, the story of George Bailey’s self-discovery is an appropriate vehicle to spread a message that our differently-abled little members of our community, can thrive. (screenshot from It's a Wonderful Life)
By Dan Irvin
I got an early Christmas present over the weekend.
About 35 years ago I saw an amazing production of a Shakespeare play performed by the Juilliard school, directed by John Houseman, who ran its Drama Division in the early years. I knew someone who had been at the school, who told me Houseman had an uncanny ability to discern the special talents of an actor, then help that actor incorporate that unique talent into a performance. You can sing? Your character is a chanteuse. You can juggle? Your character is a jongleur. You can eat fire? Well, you get the idea.
Maybe you’ve heard about Seedling Theatre, where individuals described as having special needs, apply their abilities to performing a real play – in the case of this weekend, It’s a Wonderful Life. I can not imagine Mr. Houseman could have made a better application of the special talents of this group of actors.
Upon reflection, the story of George Bailey’s self-discovery is an appropriate vehicle to spread a message that our differently-abled little members of our community, can thrive…in fact can push us all in a positive direction. Who gains the most from such a pursuit? The company member, the volunteer helper, the audience? It doesn’t matter. We are all made better, come to a better understanding of life and what’s important about it, through the effort.
For some among us, it is a lifelong accomplishment to speak a single sentence in front of a hundred people; for some among us it is an accomplishment to turn a head and acknowledge from a wheelchair that someone has moved you to anger, or any emotion.
For all of us, it was a genuinely magical theatrical moment, to see this iteration of Clarence, the angel second class, sprout his wings.
Our community, our state, our nation…..our elected leaders, our businesses, and each and every one of us face difficult days ahead – really daunting challenges. With their herculean efforts and determination, this humble little troup of players – these seedlings – demonstrate that if we have a will to succeed, with the help of first-class and second-class angels like Clarence, we can indeed achieve what we pursue.
Dan is Secretary of the Board of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, Vice-President of the Bloomington Public Library Foundation Board, and a member of the Heartland Community College Foundation Board.
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