When you step off the well-worn path in the woods and venture forth into the brambles and briars you’re going to get lost and you're going to get hurt. That’s what happens. But what also happens is that sometimes you find something extraordinary that no one has seen before.
You bring it back for people to see. When you show people what you have found...
Some will not understand what it is...
Some will refuse to look at it because it does not fit into their vision of how the world should be...
Some will question why you needed to head off into the wild when there was a perfectly good path right in front of you…
Unfortunately, it’s usually these people who like to make their thoughts known to the rest of the world. They shout about your folly, and their voices are loud. People will listen to what they have to say, not because they are right, but because they say it with the authority of someone who simply cannot be wrong.
To those who question the need for new paths, let me tell you a short story… are you ready?
Once upon a time in a land far far away there was a deep, dark wood…
There. I told you it was short. Because, once upon a time dear reader, there were no paths, no trails or bridleways. There was just the wood… dark, ominous and forbidding. And, but for the courage and curiosity of an intrepid few that’s all it would remain, it’s treasures, beauties and gifts locked away within it’s depths forever…
But thank goodness for courage and curiosity. Because, once upon a time a storyteller stepped into that wood, cutting fearlessly with their machete, pushing aside the brambles, negotiating the gorges and fording the rivers with nothing but their expertise and their ingenuity. Because that’s what storytellers do. They are explorers of the uncharted territory. It’s why they are here. They are the pathfinders, the trailblazers, the ones who have the ideas that no one else has had.
“Fine. I get it.” the naysayers say, “But that was all a long time ago. Now there is a path through the wood. I’ve followed it, I’ve seen the treasures and the gifts and beauties. Why would you go off that trail into the wild when there’s a perfectly serviceable path in front of you?”
The storyteller, with a twinkle in their eye, beckons the naysayer close.
“Because the path isn’t going my way.”
If you know of what I speak, then may I direct you to ignore those critics mocking those who are busy making new paths to new places in the wood.
Go and see WASTED at Southwark Playhouse.
Chris Ash, Carl Miller and Adam Lenson are pushing fearlessly at the boundaries of musical theatre storytelling. They are cutting a new path into the wood and they are using all of their considerable experience, craft and ingenuity to do it. It’s full of intelligence, humour and wonder. These exceptional storymakers know how stories work, they have a huge amount of experience in creating them, they know the paths that have gone before. The choices they have made are not borne of ignorance. They know they stand on the shoulders of giants but they also know there are new paths to find. They know that their path involves danger and peril.
But it is imperative that innovative work of this kind not be dismissed simply because it is going somewhere we haven't been before. I'm not saying that the opinion of the critic isn't valid or important but, it is as ever as valid as the next person's opinion, but opinion it is and opinion it should remain.
So... a person, a small group of people stand at the edge of the wood warning you, dear reader, not to enter. Remember that the voice of the critic was never the voice of progress. Their job is an important one. Their job is to evaluate and compare against what has come before. But they are not the pathfinders, they are not the trailblazers and there is simply no way they can predict where we are going or what we shall do when we get there.
To quote from Wasted…
“Fuck off. I’m writing Jane Eyre.”