The Power of Theater and Television

In the last week, I have been moved to tears by both a theatrical performance (televised) and a television series (Netflix). That is the power of the written word brought to life in presentation art.

First, the television series. Season 3 of Ozark, specifically the story line about Ben Davis. Now, if you haven’t watched the series, you are probably wondering why it touched me. The answer is simple, it is the most realistic and painfully honest depiction of bi-polar disorder I have ever seen on the screen. As many of you know, my father suffers from bi-polar disorder, as did Sam. When it is well-treated and controlled, the person (and those who love them) have a relatively normal life. And when it isn’t, life is chaotic, funny, painful, sad, frustrating — and all of those feelings can happen in a ten minute space of time. It is a roller coaster you can’t truly understand unless you have lived it, but the actor’s depiction of it is the best I’ve ever seen. And the response of his sister? So painfully honest and realistic… The hope. The anger. The sadness. The guilt. The willingness to try one more thing. It is a brilliant depiction, and it is a gift to the world because it gives a brief glimpse through that window of experience.

The second was watching Hamilton. Thankfully, as I hadn’t seen it prior to last night, nor did I know much about the story line, a member of the group Compassionate Friends posted online prior to the television event that the depiction of the grief of losing a child was so well done that it could be triggering. I am so thankful to that person for sharing that information, as it meant that I had a pocket full of tissues with me. The lyrics about losing a child and life after was spot on, and painful to watch. Yes, I cried. But as I looked around the people watching it outside with us, most of whom hadn’t buried a child, I saw many tears snaking down their cheeks. No, if you haven’t experienced this loss, you can never really understand it, but that theatrical representation is just plain brilliant, and again, gives a glimpse through that window.

How fortunate we are to be able to see such incredible performances, based on such strong writing, so that we can see into the lives and emotions of others.

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