Quote of the Day: Just because you’re taught that something’s right and everyone believes it’s right, it don’t make it right. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
It takes a great deal of strength to row against the current streams of society. It’s much easier to go with the flow, never making waves, never rocking the boat. That way, you’ll be sure to be carried along by the majority without fear of being thrown overboard. That works for a while, and for some, it works for a lifetime. For others, who have a little brighter vision, who feel deeper than most, they start to see things that just aren’t right. They start making a little noise about it. They start to question the beliefs and rules of a society. And, when the injustices really get to them, they stand up. They rock the boat. They challenge and risk everything. They don’t even wait to be thrown overboard. They leap right out, find their own raft, set their own course, and never look back. Once you’ve seen the truth, you can never go back.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic novel, written by Mark Twain between the years 1876 and 1882. He set it aside after the first burst of inspiration, nearly tossed it out, then picked it back up again seven years later. There is a distinct difference in the mood between the first and second parts of this novel. The first part feels lighter, more like an extension of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (where the character of Huck Finn first appears) and the second half is much darker, where Mark Twain describes how cruel humans can be to one another, and how they work so hard to keep each other down, and rarely learn from their mistakes.
How does the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis handle this classic, and controversial, piece of literature written by the famous satirist Mark Twain? Very well, with the gentleness and care that they give to all their productions. The main theme of this production is love and friendship and doing what’s right despite what society has taught you to believe and how the mob might react to your actions. The subject matter is heavy: slavery, child abuse, alcoholism, abandonment, harsh conditions created by both nature and man. What makes this an endearing story is that it’s told through a most beloved character, Huck Finn. We see the world through his eyes, still a bit innocent, and not controlled by society in any way. He’s been left to his own devices, seemingly since birth. He’s resourceful and clever. He’s slow to judge and quick to make friends. He also shows us that if we learn to think for ourselves, we’ll be better off for it. The right thing isn’t always the law, nor the majority’s belief, but what you know is right in your heart.
In an hour and 2o minutes, no intermission, you get the sweetened condensed version of Huck Finn by the gentle and sensitive cast and crew of The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. They show the harsh realities just long enough to help us understand what’s going on, and they offer up the humor that Mark Twain was known for, and the energetic sweetness that only Dean Holt can portray as he gives us the Huck Finn we know and love. Reed Sigmund stretches his actor’s muscle to the extreme, playing everything from Aunt Polly to mean and drunk old Pappy. Ansa Akea shines as Jim, sings us a gorgeous song about floating on the river, and transforms himself into other characters to fill in the gaps of the story. Victor Zupanc and Joe Cruz sit on stage, playing bluegrass and providing sound effects, that give the show its riversong.
Why would you go to a show like Huck Finn? Because life is not all fairy tales and princesses. Life is filled with adventures, with twists and turns, storms and sunny skies as you navigate the streams and by-ways. Friendships can be formed by unlikely pairs, and we can find strength in following the inward and outward journey of others.
Huck Finn is playing at the Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis through April 4, 2015.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What current societal belief is challenging you right now? What do you like about the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?