As I write this, I am about to see the show’s first full run-through and I can hardly believe it. It seems like just yesterday I was constructing our 77th Season. It was by a sheer stroke of luck that Hillbarn was awarded the royalties of The Hunchback of Notre Dame – a last minute opportunity that I did not want you to miss out on!
Victor Hugo, the novelist, whose book the show is based on, loved to use events of the past as harbingers of the future. 1482, the year in which this saga takes place, represents a major turning point in history when the status quo of the Catholic Church will be shaken to its core. Discussions about fate and destiny, revolution and social strife are interwoven into each character. Couple that with severe religious fanaticism, classism and centralized state power, and this tale strikes powerful chords across time.
“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” – Victor Hugo
When I think of the great gothic cathedrals of the world I am awestruck by the sheer power and presence they possess. To think — human hands built these monuments in celebration of something bigger than themselves — a place for their community to gather, seek redemption, love, answers and to explore big ideas. More importantly, hidden behind these architectural giants is the story of the people.
Hugo describes the great cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris, (the original title of the book) as a “chimera” that represents all of France. Its mix of architectural styles and the scars of ages past are not the works of an individual but man-made “social works” and the “offspring of the nation.” And to this day Notre Dame stands as a symbol of national unity; time was its architect and the entire country its mason. There are profound parallels between these stone giants and great theatre. For haven’t we all come to gather, to seek answers, share emotions, and listen to a story of the people?
Each of the past three years the season has been thematically titled. This year I did not want a title…I wanted to evoke emotion and let each individual find their own connections. It is important to me that each piece resonates independently; each narrative delivers its singular, personal theme and message. Like Quasimodo I wanted the shackles to be torn away to let each of the eight narratives express their individual interpretation of humanism.
I never know what the world will look like once a show reaches our stage or how each of you, our patrons, will interpret it against the backdrop of current events. My hope is that as the words leave the stage, you are inspired to discuss and share the ideas they impart long after the final bow.
This play is dark in many parts. It delves deep into the question, “What makes a monster and what makes a man?” It will ignite your emotions, as it illuminates the cruelty of humans and begs for an answer to the most simple of questions- why? And as soon as that question enters your mind the play will offer you hope, love, beauty, and the power of redemption. We are not monsters; we are humans, seeking answers to what it’s like “Out There.” Enjoy.
Executive Artistic Director