Tuesday, July 26, 2005

One: The Musical

Like many North Americans, I love a good story that ends well. Even though they're fluff, I watch a shallow romantic comedy now and then. There are movies that aspire to a deeper message, but still there's that overlay of a simple archetypal story. Same with theater. I've come to appreciate the gift of theater over a movie...a live show, dedicated people putting on seemingly flawless performances, the creativity and physics involved in staging...there are the same archetypal plots, but the beauty is in the performance and the ingenuity.

So, while I refrained from mentioning it (or "Hair") in my article about it for the NW Dharma News, I am delighted that we Buddhists get our "Jesus Christ Superstar," and it was born here in Portland.

One: The Musical is showing in Portland in mid-September, the brain-child of Wade McCollum. In my research, I found Wade's biggest cheerleader to be Joseph Gallivan of the Tribune. Sure enough, this week he has gushing things to say about Wade and his pitch for the musical. The group needs money if they are going to put on a good show.

I haven't met Wade, and briefly met dedicated members of the Insight Out Theatre Collective, but heck, this is a modern Buddhist musical so I'm inclined to like it. I hope my endorsement will help them bring in some money so they can put on a really good show.

Here's what I wrote for the NW Dharma News:

ONE: A Revelation Has Begun

Bodhisattvas take many forms. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh has said the next Buddha could be born as a community. Portland may well be the birthplace of a Bodhisattva in the form of…a modern American rock musical. ONE ~ The Musical: A Revelation Has Begun will show in Portland’s newly renovated Wonder Ballroom from September 15 to October 1. Inspired by the story of Siddhartha, ONE follows the journey of a modern day youth, Sid Arthur. A musician, Sid is faced with choosing fame and duplicity, or listening to his community and following the music of truth in his heart. Integrating Eastern and Western philosophy, music, and dance, the Insight Out Theatre Collective hopes the musical will "create a space for dialog, celebrating the contrast and harmonies of disparate belief systems." They say "ONE opens the door for sharing ideas, perspectives and stories of many kinds, thus enriching its message of connection."

The author and lead actor Wade McCollum has been writing ONE for over ten years. He co-wrote the music with Eric Nordin. Earlier incarnations of the musical were produced by Stark Raving Theater in 1999 and Insight Out in 2003. An award-winning actor in Portland and LA, Wade McCollum earned effusive reviews not only for his acting in the leads of "Bat Boy" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," but for his charismatic presence. "He speaks softly, and with an enthusiasm for humanity you don’t often see in actors on the way up. …Look out for him. As they say around here, he’s the shiny one." said Joseph Gallivan of the Tribune.

Wade McCollum shared some thoughts with me on finding his inspiration in the story of the Buddha. In creating ONE, he wanted to address the challenges of living in the modern world, and so wished "to highlight the journey of self-realization within an urban context." It is not meant to be a traditional telling of the story of Siddhartha, but it does explore the ideas and discoveries inherent in Buddhist thought. Wade said, "How do we find the peace that Siddhartha found beneath the Bodhi tree, underneath a skyscraper?"

He says, "We consistently affirm throughout the show the quintessential discovery of interconnectedness. This fundamental unity is the affirmation of the show. …I feel that ONE is an important meditation on how the personal relates to the whole. People so often are told, "don't try to change the world, just change yourself." And yet, this often is followed by feelings of complacency rather than evolutionary momentum. I feel that ONE showcases the power in changing the collective through personal stillness, refinement and reflection. Beginning the revelation of interconnectedness, and beginning the shift in perspective to an uncompromising seat within infinite intelligent love."

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