Rose-coloured glasses

The crowd got impatient. They’d come early for good seats and had been standing some time. The lobby was full – only 12 tickets left for sale. An unwitting usher came out the locked door of the theatre, someone pushed him aside, others rushed passed. He tried to stop them – they threatened, shoved, surged in through the door. I pressed my way through the people and pushed the door closed, prying the fingers of one old lady off the door knob to do so. I turned to look at them and in spite of my disgust, all I could say was “I am so surprised!” Nobody cared about my surprise. Fights broke out in the house over seats – “That’s mine!”

They were not trying to get magical healing or the last rations of food. This was the opening night of Ten Green Bottles. The buzz about the show is great and the public performances are few, but what happened to create such a frenzy? Such mob mentality?

The show is about a family who survived the Holocaust, about man’s inhumanity to man, and I wondered if those people were shamed as they watched the story unfold. Did they see themselves, cloaked in self-righteousness, degrading and attacking others? Did they apologize to that usher? To each other?

Written and directed by Mark Cassidy, the show is poetic and sophisticated. The creative team of Ten Green Bottles are the most lovely people ever; hard-working, passionate, sensitive and sincere. It chagrins me to think that the back-door rioters are likely affiliated with one of us as opening-night crowds usually are; author’s friends, actors parents, sponsors. It grieves me more that they are probably unaware of their own behaviour and that they will, in their toothless old age, simply be glad that their children are more generous, more kind than they have been.

Te-Amim Music Theatre exists to promote a message of tolerance. It does this through arts education, creating plays like Ten Green Bottles for students to see, and then conducting workshops in the schools to make connections between the Holocaust, contemporary genocide and our own behaviour in school yards and back yards. Te-Amim teaches students to educate themselves, to understand each other and to stand up for social justice. It focuses not only on how countries treat countries and how people treat people, but how the students treat each other.

To date, approximately 20 schools have attended the production of Ten Green Bottles, with another 25 scheduled. Students range from grades 8 to 12 and yet, to date, there have been no riots in the lobby, no violence towards ushers, no fighting over seats. It begs the question of who is teaching whom?

I lost my red sun glasses that day and now I have to squint at the world, seeing peoples’ hard edges in stark contrast to the way I like to imagine them. I get the irony, the symbolism, but I don’t want new glasses, I don’t want to see the world this clearly, I just want my rose coloured lenses back until a time when I no longer need them.

At the cast party that night we tried to laugh about the bizarre incident, wrote it off as an aberration. Nobody I know…

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