Cleo’s Words on Words

Posted By Theatre, Writing

My favourite app on my phone is the dictionary. I know what you’re thinking “This girl sounds super cool and really fun,” to which I say, “thank you, I am.” I love so many things about this app. I love that it doesn’t yell at me to check notifications. I love that it tells me how to pronounce each word so I can say them with confidence. I love that it encourages me to expand my vocabulary with the “word of the day.”

Fun Fact: today’s word is “sudser” meaning any movie, play, or the like that is designed to provoke a tearful response. Coincidence? I think, yes.

But what I love most about the dictionary app is that it’s a dictionary and dictionaries are important because they teach us words (duh) and the words we know influence the way we see the world we live in. I remember my high school history teacher explaining the power words have over us—how concepts of “freedom,” “equality” and “justice” cannot be realized until they can be spoken. That a person cannot fully understand oppression until they hear the word freedom. Needless to say, this BLEW. MY. MIND. I also remember the time my English teacher Mr. Edwards taught us his favourite word “microcosm.”

NOTE: Technically he never SAID it was his favourite but we all knew how jazzed he would be if we wrote it into an essay.

Mr. Edwards spoke of the word “microcosm” in the context of William Golding’s novel “Lord of the Flies” and how the behaviour of the young shipwrecked boys was a small-scale depiction of human nature. The island was a representation of power, governance and savagery in our world. BUT ENOUGH ABOUT THE LORD OF THE FLIES, even though it’s a great book (and if you weren’t forced to read it before consider yourself aggressively encouraged to read it now). Let’s circle back to “microcosm.”

I think that “microcosm” is something that (subjectively speaking) theatre strives to create. How plays create a small world, realistic or not, that is a fictional representation of ourselves/the world we live in. That every set piece, every movement, every word, is sending messages to the audience making them think and feel and criticize what they’re seeing.

Did you love this play? Why?

Did you hate this play? Why?

Did you LOVE it while your friend HATED it? WHY?

This is interesting and exciting and sometimes confusing. I enjoy theatre that requires audience engagement (NOT to be confused with participation. If I’m elbow deep in a tub of popcorn, do not grab my butter-covered hand and pull me on stage, please). And while I agree with my history teacher when he said that words influence the way we think, I also believe that theatre can transcend this. That certain productions resonate with us and we might not be able to put what we’re feeling into words because, well, maybe there isn’t a word to describe it. Yet.

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