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A View From The Choir

Outside of contributing to the drama of this show as part of the Cathedral Choir, I work with homeless individuals and families to evaluate the cause of their homelessness in order to stabilize their situation. It’s funny that whenever I mention to people I work with the homeless, everyone starts to drown me out with their own supposed expert opinion of why people are really homeless based on a few people they have met and maybe talked to for ten minutes. The homeless are more often seen as a stain on the city, and blamed for their own condition, and kicked out of public places quite similar to the treatment of the people labeled gypsies in this show. Even for myself in my own work, when I think I have someone all figured out, the repulsive behavior of Claude Frollo is a good reminder of how often we make judgments and moral assumptions about someone whose life we barely know without allowing them to tell their own story. We can be much more like Frollo than we’d like to admit, perpetuating racism and poverty by being much quicker to condemn than to try understand or help.

How often are we really like Esmeralda, willing to risk the hostile stare and revile of others to show kindness to someone who is despised and outcast? Yet Esmeralda is demonized based on her cultural background, assumed lifestyle and moral character without out ever being allowed to speak for herself at all. She is even wrongfully accused of witchcraft.

And in regards to Quasimodo, he is just like the people that we today dehumanize and stigmatize and want to pretend are not a part of our society and want to keep hidden because seeing them disturbs us.

Why does it disturb us to see disfigured people? Or homeless people? Why is it so hard for us to let people from other cultures, creeds or lifestyles be? Is it because it makes us feel guilty? Because we need someone else to look down on as morally inferior? Or because it reminds of the fragility and vulnerability of the human condition that so scares us? Any of us are just a few paychecks away from being homeless, one accident away from being disfigured or disabled, one move away to a neighborhood or country where we are the minority and the stranger.

Despite all this, to quote Archdeacon Frollo, these are crimes for which the world shows little pity. Waukesha Civic Theater’s Hunchback of Notre Dame powerfully shows the cruelty of prejudice and hypocrisy in the name of moral authority and progress, backed by the easily influenced populace. Five hundred years later, the medieval attitudes of Frollo and the angry mob are terrifyingly familiar to how we as individuals and a society treat others today, more than they are on a commentary on a distant backwards past.

The cast and all involved in this production, beautifully illustrate the power and value of theater, through story and song to challenge us and to bring light to what dark part of us needs to be acknowledged and left as a part of history, if we really want that kinder, fairer, and wiser someday to come before the people who need our compassion and understanding the most, are gone.

Amy Teutenberg ~ Cathedral Choir

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MAD Corner: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

WCT is both proud and delighted to present the area premier of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame! Inspired by and using some of the music from the Disney cartoon, this incredible new musical brings Victor Hugo’s amazing story of Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Pheobus, and Frollo to life on stage, working with some of the darker themes of Hugo’s novel.  Guided by Mark E. Schuster, one of WCT’s premier directors, and featuring a lush and beautiful score played by a full orchestra and sung by 40 powerful voices, I am confident that our production will astound everyone who sees it.

I would like to thank everyone that supports WCT!  We wouldn’t be here without you. All of our volunteers help us out in any number of ways by acting, ushering, serving on the board of directors, providing maintenance or office support, or working on sets, costumes, props. Our patrons come to WCT see quality live entertainment, the fruits of our volunteers’ labor. Our donors help keep us financially sound by their gifts to the Annual Operating Fund, the Endowment Fund, or by including us in their planned giving.

The generosity of the Waukesha community astounds me, and I truly appreciate all the time, talent, and money that you give to WCT.

One way, and arguably the best way, to support WCT is to spread the word about Waukesha’s best kept secret.  It always amazes me when I meet someone in Waukesha who has no idea what a fantastic organization we have right here in the heart of the community.  Tell people about what we do and all we offer.

Enrich. Challenge. Entertain. That says it all, so keep watching, keep participating with, and keep supporting this cultural cornerstone. We couldn’t do it without you.

 

 

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director