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October 8, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird

Over twenty of us from Grace went to see To Kill a Mockingbird at the Guthrie this past Sunday after worship. Some of us had read and discussed Harper Lee's book in the last month, some had read it in high school or in some other distant life, and some were in high school and read it regularly still.

It was my second time seeing the Guthrie's production--an embarrassment of theatrical richness to see a Guthrie production twice, but that's how it happened. With just nine days between, I saw the same production twice, and I had two very different experiences.

The cast of To Kill A Mockingbird has three child characters who play large and important roles, and those three characters were cast twice and alternated performances. Each cast was wonderful in its own way--but each was quite different. I saw two different Scouts, two Jems, and two Dills. In addition, two different actresses played the role of Calpurnia. The rest of the cast was the same. They spoke the same lines and were directed by the same director.

But my experience of the play was totally different. I've been thinking about it ever since--was it my mood, my expectations at each performance? Maybe...but after "controlling" for these two things (by which I mean acknowledging them), I think I've decided that the majority of the difference came because of the different cast members--and maybe especially because three of the four were kids.

Although the rest of the cast said their same lines and played their same roles, they were reacting to a different set of kids on stage with them. This gave everyone's performance...some nuance. The nuances multiplied on themselves, and the pace, humor, energy, and the drama of the whole was astoundingly different.

It makes me think of the ways in which a person's presence can change a situation--for good or for ill. We talk sometimes about "systems"--family, organizational, or corporate systems etc. When the players in a system change--when someone marries in, is hired on, leaves, changes etc.--the whole, the "system" has to adjust. Often those adjustments are significant. Sometimes the changes are for the better, sometimes for the worse, and sometimes everyone just has to adjust. In any event, the system creates itself anew when a piece or part changes.

It was fascinating to watch on stage. And I feel like I'm watching for it in other places, too. How the energy in a room changes when kids bounce in, the vacuum that's left when someone leaves a gathering early, how people tense up when an unexpected player arrives, etc. I invite you to watch for it yourself. Notice it. I'm beginning to think we're far more interdependent than we realize....

Pastor Melanie

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