Last week, we saw Wicked! The Musical. I started crying about ten minutes in and never really stopped. I saw myself in Elphaba, reflected in her songs and actions, hopes and dreams.
She was hailed as the Wicked Witch of the West – reduced to a feared and hated villain – but she was simply an outcast, a misfit, a freak. Her story involves loss, abuse, prejudice, trying to do good but having it backfire, and multiple misunderstandings.
Amazingly, her life isn’t all that different from mine:
She was born a freak because of her green skin.
I was born a freak because of my sexual orientation. (Also, as Pace points out, I have a fair amount of green skin.)
She was treated poorly because of her looks.
I have been treated poorly because of my looks.
She was abused by those she loved and trusted.
I have been abused by those I loved and trusted.
She was desperate for acceptance.
I have been desperate for acceptance.
She was different, and that made people fear and hate her.
I am different, and that makes people fear and hate me.
She tried her best to be good and do what she felt was right.
I try my best to be good and do what I feel is right.
She left all she knew to stand up for herself, in the face of overwhelming fear.
I left all I knew to stand up for myself, in the face of overwhelming fear.
And even in the end, she was good in her heart – despite everything that happened to her along the way.
I only hope I continue to have as much strength and courage as Elphaba.
And now, why Wicked! is the Official Musical of the Freak Revolution.
Defying Gravity (YouTube)
Glinda: Elphie, listen to me! Just say you’re sorry. You can still be with the Wizard, what you’ve worked and waited for. You can have all you ever wanted!
Elphaba: I know. And I don’t want it. No, I can’t want it anymore… Something has changed within me.
Faced with losing everything, Glinda the Good tries to talk Elphaba into recanting, asking her to apologize and give in, give up what she believes in – to sit down and shut up.
To which Elphaba replies, “Fuck. That. Shit.”
Too late for second-guessing.
Too late to go back to sleep!
It’s time to trust my instincts.
Close my eyes, and leap!
It’s time to try defying gravity.
I think I’ll try defying gravity, and you can’t pull me down!
She’s woken up. She can’t go back to the way things were before – she saw the reality of the world, and not only can’t ignore it, she can’t sit down and be quiet. She has to take a stand and try to make a difference; she has to follow her heart.
‘Cuz someone says they’re so!
Some things I cannot change,
but ’till I try, I’ll never know!
She has to make her own rules, find her own way. She steps outside of her comfort zone. She’s not sure what lies ahead, only that she can’t abide what waits if she doesn’t try. She’s not listening to her best friend in the world, because her best friend in the world is telling her that she will fail, that she needs to stop and come back down to earth – to sit down and be quiet.
And she can’t do that anymore.
It’s a paradigm shift! She shifted from being in a control paradigm to being sure that control was the wrong way to go – even though she wasn’t sure what to replace it with, she was sure it wasn’t okay.
“Everyone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo,
At least I’m flying free.
To those who’d ground me,
Take a message back from me:
Tell them how I am
I’m flying high,
And soon I’ll match them in renown.
And nobody in all of Oz.
No Wizard that there is or was.
Is ever gonna bring me down!
And she says it here: Even if I’m alone, at least I’m free. Even if she loses everything, at least she’s doing what she feels is right – and no one, not even those in powerful positions, will be able to stop her.
Even labeled “wicked”, even with those she loved turning their backs on her, even without knowing what she’s in for now, Elphaba takes a stand. She tells the truth, even when no one wants to hear it. She stands up for what she believes in. She steps up and refuses to be quelled. She refuses to sit down and shut up.
She rocks the boat, and she changes her world.
And in the end…
Wicked! has a tragic ending.
The Freak Revolution will have a happy ending.
We will stand up for what we believe in. We will fight for change – not with guns or signs, but with ideas. We will live our lives as examples. We will be strong in ourselves, we will be honest, we will be open. We will be our freaky selves, and it will be revolutionary.
We will honor those who have fallen for being so different by being unafraid to be different, too – together.
Together, we are unlimited.