there’s no dodging the truth, the world has pretty much gone to shit. it’s saddening and it’s horrific, the events which are taking place across the globe leaves hearts heavy and eyes filled with tears. in times of trauma, fight and change, musical theatre teaches.
elle woods taught me how to me determined and driven in legally blonde. billy elliot showed me to do whatever the hell you want to do, even when every man and their dog seems to be against it. tracy turnblad urged me to fight for what you believe in, and to do it with spirit. elphaba was brave in her own skin despite being different and thought to be ‘bad’ by the rest of the land, matilda’s thoughts demonstrated the power of ingenuity, and the cast of rent taught me about the struggles we may come across and how to fight back.
among the dismay happening every minute, of every hour, of every day, the narratives of these iconic characters help me see the light. they’re likely to sing in full costume under a spotlight and it’s almost certain that they might dance in large groups and clap to the beat of the music, but the point is: musical theatre is still relevant today. it’s all about self-expression, a form of communication. musical theatre is relatable; the characters sing hard-hitting lyrics about love, pain, death and anguish, they pioneer for happiness and righteous in their life or beyond, and they all make a strong point about change in their narratives. musical theatre changed my way of looking at the world as watching the shows is an escape, but at the same time, unveils valuable life lessons.
musical theatre teaches about history and brings it to life in front of our very eyes, allowing us to see the raw pain and emotion on stage. musical theatre also shows power relations, demonstrating the hierarchies which permeates every aspect of our lives outside the upper circle. performances show how dynamics affect us, showing how we can take charge if we’re passionate to change like the protagonist is. the theatre is also a cultural space, a place for reflection in society. since it first originated, the theatre has been a mirror which can be looked at to study the problems that confront us and attempt to resolve them. as theatre goers, we’re also welcomed to view different perspectives on situations, we hear reasoning behind ‘the baddies’ actions and we witness the consequences of their actions.
whilst life is not a musical theatre production with elaborate costume changes, random outbreaks into song, bright lights and makeup – the ideologies which reflect today’s struggles shine through. musical theatre might be viewed as a way to experience an alternate reality, but to me it’s more to life than ever before. tackling issues of homophobia, racism, stereotypes, class and sexism: through song and dance, these issues are bought to life by real humans, acting the trials of today.
with people stood in front of you, understanding the concept and messages of theatre, helps us understand what it means to be human.
Words by Yasemin Gumushan