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The Fantasticks: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
Six years after the 2008 closure of the off-Broadway production by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt. Fantastic ones, the beloved musical returns to New York City. Forty-two years didn’t seem like a long time for a record breaker, and besides, no one was disappointed with the decision.
When the musical was first created in the early 1960s, Beat’s generation saw the play’s tension of opposites – the misunderstandings of the ideologies of the over-30s and the current political upheavals. At that time. The play reached a generational need in the 60s and continued. But today, in 2012, we’re going through a different kind of upheaval, and a lot has changed since then Fantastic ones written. So why has this musical endured? Why can’t we get enough of his lines and lyrics? What is our connection? Why do we love this drama so much?
A familiar story
The answer may lie in the basic archetypal blueprint of the script. Act I opens in the beautiful innocence of moonlight; Act 2 opens to the harsh reality of the day. Matt, the boy, and Louisa, the girl, succumb to their illusions in the first act, but face a bitter awakening in the second. El Gallo, “the Rooster,” a professional thief hired by Huckleby, brings the light of day, literally as well as symbolically. He has come to lead Matt and Louise on their separate journeys of abandoning their innocence and becoming initiated into the world of experience.
In the moonlight
To encourage their children to love, Matt and Louise’s fathers build walls between their homes and rely on the old temptation of no-holds-barred. It works, and when the two lovers meet in secret, under the moonlight, they swear their love to each other. In order to create the illusion of a resolution to the feud, Matt’s father, Huckleby, engages El Gallo to stage the kidnapping of Louise, allowing his son Matt to heroically save him and stop his ruse. Louise’s father, Bellomy, agrees, but a happy ending in the moonlight can’t be realistic.
In the light of day
“Their moon was cardboard,” El Gallo told us. In the light of day, life takes on a more nuanced tone and reality shines harshly. The four sing, “If the night seems like anything, too soon a beautiful place can become a joke.” Suddenly dissatisfied, the girl and boy part ways to solve their restlessness. Matt ventures out to find a glittering world of drinking, gambling, and adventure, while Luisa El Gallo kisses him on the eye and wants to take him on a journey to dance the world forever and ever. To do this, one must wear a mask to avoid seeing the truth. When Luisa refuses to accept that this world is only an illusion, a trick of smoke and mirrors, El Gallo demands the usual price for self-deception: she must give up the most precious thing to her, in this case, the necklace that belongs to her. mother For her sacrifice, Luisa eventually runs into a kind of prodigal son, Matt, on her way home, who also admits to being a jerk. Both the girl and the boy were deeply hurt, but they saw the light of wisdom through their loss. “All my wildest dreams multiplied by two…they were you,” they sing. A boy and a girl return home from their trip to find that their dream has come true all along. With this new awareness, snow begins to fall, a symbol of new beginnings and new life.
The metaphor of the cave
If the plot sounds familiar, it should. It is borrowed from Plato’s Book VII, Allegory of the Cave, from the fifth century BC. Republic. Plato explained this to his student:
Humans are chained to a cave from birth, with only a fire burning near the entrance and casting shadows on the back wall as the only reality the prisoners know. Once released, they reluctantly leave the comfort of their illusion. They are taught about the world outside the cave, dragged up a steep hill, trained little by little to adjust their eyes to the growing source of light so that they can finally look directly at the sun. .
El Gallo’s allegory in the play is a symbol of our worth, not a person. hamartia, The decisions we made, not knowing at the time, were mistakes due to ignorance or perhaps unconsciousness. As Plato so wisely instructed, making errors in judgment is the only way we can grow and face the real world at any level. This life/death/rebirth motif reminds us again and again of the hero’s journey, the cycle of seasons when Persephone emerges from the Underworld in spring to bring new life to the homeland, and the healing of wounds in the five stages of love. It brings hope to all our relationships. The plot is nothing new—some say it’s genetically coded into us—but we will forever be intrigued and even surprised by its familiarity.
Maybe we love Fantastic ones Because we recognize ourselves in the characters’ joys, every mistake, and finally, a humble gratitude for a second chance. Every time we watch the play or even listen to his wonderful performance, we are reminded of where we have been and where we are going. No wonder Homer said centuries ago that “even his sorrows become joys after a long time to him who remembers all that he has done and experienced.” El Gallo similarly opens and closes his play with the words, “It’s good to remember in the depths of December…”.
For those unlucky enough not to have seen the stage performance Fantastic ones, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt also wrote the 1995 screenplay. A slight step back from the play with its more detailed and multifaceted settings, the film requires less imagination, except for one, the same musical number and some additional lines, though the poetic quality is not preserved. In the movie, El Gallo is the master of the carnival, a dark tent quite adjacent to Plato’s cave. What the screenwriters have created is a highly symbolic version. For example, when Matt and Louise sing “It’s Soon to Rain,” they sit under a tree, perched on a high branch, and El Gallo stands, orchestrating everything from the sound effects and chorus to the magic dust he sprinkles. lovers below. This tree is El Gallo’s life, so the lessons he teaches Luisa in Chapter 2, when she has to get him out of the metaphorical cave, should begin when he climbs and sits next to this very tree. Because he wants an exciting and slightly dangerous life I think He asked her to take him to that tree and dance forever.
The film is full of symbolism: the kiss of the tree’s eyelids, the necklace, the two houses and the wall between them, the old Romeo and Juliet movie flashed on the wall of the dark carnival tent, the road to the carnival and the road back home. , masks, the end of smoke and mirror magic, life and the dance of illusion is played out throughout. Middle school students watching this film can learn about the cave metaphors and countless archetypal symbols embedded in the screenplay in a way that no other literature can present so effectively. However, the friendly humor contained in one short scene should not be missed as it contributes to the drama without contrivance. However, students who watch this film will never watch a film again without noticing the hidden language of symbolism, and once the symbolism is presented to students through the film, their understanding of archetypal literature is one step away.
for more information about Fantastic onessee the following:
Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. Boston: Back Bay, Little, Brown and Co., 1969.
Jones, Tom, and Harvey Schmidt Fantastic ones. New York: Applause, 1964.
Plato. “Republic II.” Trans. Benjamin Jowett. TThat portable Plato. Ed. Scott Buchanan. New York: Penguin, 1977, 327-28.
O’Connor, Susan. Language dance. Bloomington, IN, 2008.
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