An Afterthought

The show has come together, and I’ve had a chance to think about the content rather than the form.

While it is true that I loved The Fantasticks during my college years with all the intensity of youth or young adulthood, I know there was something I responded to more seriously, further in the recesses of my consciousness.  It was hard to distinguish that response from all the other emotional reactions upon first seeing the performances and hearing the music.  But my attachment to this musical parable gradually became founded on the truth of its message.

I don’t even have to use lines from the play to explain what I began to know to be true.  While watching an early episode of Criminal Minds a number of years ago, I found my heart pounding at the quotation uttered by one of the characters at the end of the show.  This convention has been used throughout the series, but never have I responded so viscerally.  The quotation, by Kahlil Gibran, spoke eloquently to the child in me who felt the pain of never having been normal.  I vacillated between between cherishing, like Luisa, a kind of “specialness” and praying to be left alone so that I might achieve in my later life at least some form of normalcy.  There was nothing inherently wrong with me, I grew to learn, but people from the outside world exerted their will over me in ways that I felt unable to control, and there was no El Gallo to ensure that I immediately learned an appropriate lesson.

But now, when I see Matt and Luisa endure the trials of their forays “beyond that road” in order to grow into more complex, insightful, and empathetic people, I can reflect on my own life and know that I, like them, somehow found a path.  It has taken a lifetime, not the two-hour span of a musical, but the result remains the same, and like Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” that has made all the difference. So when I see The Fantasticks, I laugh and I cry and I remember.  And the ending always brings Gibran’s words to mind:

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls.  The most massive characters are seared with scars.”

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Author:  Dennis Maulden

DENNIS C. MAULDEN, Resident Scenic Designer & Apprentice Administrator, began his association with Flat Rock Playhouse as an apprentice in 1967 and continued in the subsequent 11 years to become Equity Stage Manger and Scenic Artist and has been the Resident Scenic Designer since 1985. In 2000 he became a full-time staff member. In addition to designs at the Playhouse, Dennis enjoys portraiture and multimedia collages. In his career as a scene designer, Maulden has designed standard and classical repertory works, experimental projects, new plays, operas, and musicals in regional and university theatres as well as in New York. After receiving his BA degree in English/Education with a Minor in Theatre from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1970, he taught at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina for a number of years until launching his professional theatre career full-time. He then received his MFA degree from UNC-Greensboro in 1977 and is a member of United Scenic Artists, New York Local #829. As part of his teaching career, he has served as Head of Design Programs at University of Florida (1979-1983 and 1986-1988) and University of South Carolina (1988-1999) where he also served as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance. Maulden received the Mortarboard Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of South Carolina in 1991. He has led the Playhouse in its development of residential technical, teaching, and administrative internships for university students and graduates. In his years as Scenic Designer at FRP, Dennis is thankful to have contributed to the physical and aesthetic growth of the Playhouse grounds, to the artistic production quality, and to the development of strong educational programs. Moreover, he feels particularly blessed to be a part of the Playhouse family.