When Robby and I were talking the other night, he referred to us as "David"--as in David and Goliath. You know, that little pipsqueak from the Old Testament who defeated the massive warrior Goliath with his slingshot? If you haven't picked up your bible in a while, you can refresh your memory here.
I've been thinking about David and Goliath a lot lately. I work at the Paley Center for Media (formerly known as The Museum of Television & Radio), so the first thing that came to my mind when Robby mentioned David & Goliath, was not the bible story, but was the 1960's/70's stop-motion animation show that my dad used to plop me in front of every Sunday morning, so I could be versed in good Lutheran values (even though I was Catholic). Okay, it was probably so that he could read the Sunday paper in peace.
As bizarre as I find this show now, it really impacted me as a child. And looking back at it, it was pretty progressive for its time as far as children's programming went. This religious half hour show with a clay dog and little clay boy broached issues like racism, gangs, conservation and violence, among other things. And I didn't even remember that until I started looking back at some episodes.
This episode isn't particularly groundbreaking, but for all you youngins who read this blog, it gives you an idea:
I'm sure the episode when Davey befriends Johnathan (the lone African-American boy), along with my tween obsession with "Good Times (Dyn-o-mite!)," "Sanford and Son (Oh, this time its real, I'm a-comin' 'Lizabeth!)," and "What's Happening (Hey, hey, hey!)," had something to do with the fact that I was drawn to work in environments different from my own once I got to New York City. It's funny what types of things impact our choices in life.
Which brings me to Helen. Yes, it's true--it's a show with kids, for kids, about kids. It also happens to be about some pretty heavy and important issues. Oh, and did I mention that there are some beautifully complex and multi-dimensional adults in it, too?
Ultimately, Helen is a show for anyone who knows what it feels like to be "broken." Broken because of a failed relationship, a dysfunctional family, a crisis, a heartbreak, a failure, a missed opportunity, a loss...and I could go on and on and on. Know someone like that?
And the beauty of Helen on 86th St. is that all the characters, young and old, despite being broken, are determined to survive and flourish. Hey, we all can use a little dose of that in our entertainment, right? And when kids, adults, senior citizens, school groups, and families leave the theatre, I think that's what they will be talking about.
Who knows? Maybe eons from now someone will be blogging about this weird musical they saw as a kid focused on a twelve-year old girl who was obsessed with being Helen of Troy in her school play. And maybe because of that play, they became a writer, or an actor, or a doctor or a teacher. Maybe there was something about the show that stuck with them all those years--a song, a line, a performance, a lyric--and it helped them get through a bad year, or a long day, or their own crisis.
One can only hope. (Well, I also hope that Helen ages better than Davey & Goliath.)
But, I've got to run! I've got reservation lists to create, cards to write, and baklava that needs finishing touches.
Oh, and a slingshot to get ready.