I started college at Arizona State with two contradictory ambitions – to play varsity baseball and to act in theatre productions. And for most of my freshman year, I was able to balance the sports and arts commitments pretty well. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was offered an opportunity to redshirt on the varsity baseball team, with the promise of team membership the following season. But I was also offered the lead in a Tennessee Williams play! To a 19-year old, sitting on the bench, even on the best baseball team in the country, did not begin to compare with playing Shannon in The Night of the Iguana!
At that moment, my “roads diverged in the yellow wood” and I never looked back. But my love of sports lived strong in my heart as I pursued careers in the arts, and when I happened on the script to Colossal, I was overjoyed to find a play that addressed the connection between the performing arts and athletics. Both are performers, charged with entertaining and lifting up our community, showing us we can always do better, achieve greatness, and live up to our dreams.
The title “Colossal” takes on even more meaning as the play not only takes on not only the collision of football and modern dance, but is loaded with the challenges of a young athlete/dancer as he is forced to face his emerging sexuality and come to grips with catastrophic injury and disability. Wow! How could we not do this play? It forces us to focus clearly on what it can be like for young people today, thrown into the fire of growing up in our incredibly complex world, facing enormous opportunities and enormous challenges. There are so many more roads to travel in today’s world, it’s of little surprise that 30 feels like the new 20. Or that young adults are sometimes paralyzed by the expectations and capricious and constant change of 21st century life. I look back at my sports/arts quandary in my youth now as a quaintly simpler time compared to the upheaval and vagaries of today.
I hope after seeing this play, we emerge from the whirlpool of our empathy gym with a greater understanding of how challenging it is to grow up and define oneself in an environment of perpetual change. And how eternally powerful is our capacity to deal with catastrophe, how bottomless our human capacity to rebound, regroup and relive.
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