When our new season begins, we will be in the midst of a presidential election. As I write this no one can predict who the candidates will be or what to expect from these campaigns. But even now, some seven months before the first performance of our 2016/2017 Season, I expect that our hopes and fears, and our anxieties about the future will be aroused to perhaps a fever pitch. We live in a violent world, and these are anxious times. What are we to do?
As I think about our upcoming season of plays I recall a book I was given that has meant a lot to me over the years. In A Little Book of the Human Shadow, Robert Bly writes,
We notice that when sunlight hits the body, the body burns bright, but it throws
a shadow, which is dark. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Each of us
has some part of our personality that is hidden from us. Parents, and teachers in
general, urge us to develop the light side of the personality – move into well-lit subjects
such as mathematics and geometry – and to become successful. The dark part then
becomes starved. What do we do then? We send out a crow.
Bly’s idea is that we all have a dark part in our personalities, a “shadow” that needs to be exposed to the air, “unpacked,” confronted in the imagination, so that the light and the dark are kept in harmony. And that we use art and poetry to confront these unconscious shadows. To Bly, shadows are not inherently “bad.” Some parts of it may be full of joy and mischief or fun; but other parts of our shadow can become fearsome and ugly or harmful to us if we starve it, deny it, never confront it.
So that’s something we can do at CBT – we can “send out a crow.” We can put on plays that are playful and others that are troubling; plays that raise our hopes and others that confront our fears. We can tell stories rich in human shadow – providing an opportunity to allow our own to feel the light and air, and to maybe render it a bit less fearsome. I think we can all use some of that in these times.
Producing Artistic Director