“I want to remember this moment always, no one is staring, no one is laughing…” ~ Elphaba in Wicked. Spoken while she was in the Emerald City.
My husband treated me to a performance of Wicked this week. It’s a musical I have long wanted to see, and it did not disappoint. I posted this fact to my Facebook page and an author friend of mine, Nancy Kennedy (author of Girl on a Swing, and Lipstick Grace- both great books), posted that after seeing Wicked, “I realized I could never watch the Wizard of Oz the same way again.” I feel the same way.
Growing up watching the Wizard of Oz, it was easy to hate the ugly, mean, green Wicked Witch, Elphaba. She was horrible. She was vengeful. And she hated little Toto. Who could hate Toto? And those dreadful flying monkeys! Those were the things of nightmares.
If you’ve not seen the musical, this should serve as a spoiler alert. I’m not going to give too much of the story away, but I will tell you a few things. After watching the production, I found that I could identify with Elphaba the Wicked Witch more than I could Glinda the Good.
The story takes the audience back to the beginning. Back even to before Elphaba was born. The audience sees the circumstances of her birth. They learn why she is green. They learn how she grew up and what made her evil. Kermit the frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green.” I think Elphaba would have to agree. At one point she states, “I clash with everything.”
Glinda and Elphaba eventually form an unlikely friendship and I found myself liking Elphaba more. Glinda had never wanted for anything. She was popular, beautiful, and privileged. One of my favorite lines from the play is this one from Elphaba. Glinda had asked Elphaba if she was still riding around on her “old broom”. To which Elphaba replied, “Not everyone gets to come and go by bubble,” Elphaba had heart if not much else. Oh she had her moments of nastiness, but she cared deeply and pushed through adversity. She had more than her share of adversity.
The world is full of Elphabas and Glindas. We make snap judgments about people without really bothering to get to know them or what makes them tick. We gravitate to the Glindas. We discard difficult people without ever bothering to find out what made them that way. My pastor often says, “Hurting people hurt people.” It’s true.
Just last week I was in the grocery store when I witnessed a verbal altercation between two shoppers. I wondered if they were going to come to blows right there on the soup aisle. Someone had made a snap judgment about someone else, and right or wrong had acted on it. The other person had immediately jumped to their own defense and the result could have sent soup cans flying. Have I ever mentioned that I hate grocery shopping?
Think about the Elphabas in your life. They don’t likely have green skin, but they are hateful. Or snarky. Or rude. Still, there’s a story there that you might not know, and if you did know it, your opinion of your Elphaba might change. You might find compassion, and a new appreciation for the person you call the Wicked Witch. You might find that getting to know them might change you…