Brock D. Vickers
This is fun: this ridiculous world we have created with Cervantes’ work. Don Quixote has become one of my favorite characters in all of literature. It’s not just the amazing performance delivered by Brian McCann, it’s not just the madness of clown directed by Jared Reed, and it’s not just the ensemble work from a terrific cast, but the soul of the piece that sings to me.
Prior to working on this project, my knowledge of Don Quixote existed on the same plane as most people’s: something about some windmills, a jig about a funny helmet that’s not really a hat, and a quirky side kick who cracks jokes. I remembered an episode of Looney Tunes with Porky the Pig and I watched the documentary Lost in La Mancha about Terry Gilliam’s disastrous attempts to film this beast. Yet, the more we worked on the project the more I saw the brilliance of Cervantes’s masterpiece, and the nut he was trying to crack.
Master Quijana exists in a world that, in his mind, has fallen from grace. In his books, he discovers a better time: a time when Knight’s Errant lived valiantly and men did not bow to the trials of life. He is a man of nostalgia. Therefore, after living in his books about gallantry and chivalry, Master Quijana decides to embrace the life of a Knight Errant by dawning the name Don Quixote and rides forth to re-instill those practices of old.
Slowly, I began to see similarities between Don Quixote’s world and my own. At first, it was the connection of the classic trope of hero and side kick, but then all the idiosyncrasies of the show began to pop-out. The more we worked on the piece the less it seemed like a 500 year old novel, and more like a modern day satire of the comic book era.
Then, in the midst of rehearsals Avengers: Age of Ultron was released in movie theaters. A movie about a group of heros all living by a higher code than the common man. Each of these Marvel characters has their flaws, just as Don Quixote, and they all have the something in common: they all believe in a better world, and they are all willing to fight for, protect, or avenge that world.
What is to stop one of us from trying to be a superhero? How often have we wished we were better people? Better heroes? Tony Stark built a suit of iron and became Iron Man. Bruce Wayne adopted the cape and cowl to become a symbol for justice. Matt Murdock trained to protect Hell’s Kitchen from diving into the abyss. To us these superheros are our Knight Errants. They are our modern myths. After all, what is a knight but a superhero?
After reading comics and watching movies, what would our story be if we suddenly adopted a mask and some body armor and took to the streets? How many times would we receive a beating if we took up arms against thugs? Would people laugh at our capes? Our words? Our existence?
The brilliance of Don Quixote is that though he appears mad to all those around him, he is actually living on a higher level of existence. He sees the world the way he wants to see it, and his very act of being a Knight Errant is an invitation to all to be a part of something greater. Instead of telling people what he believed, Don Quixote showed them. Much like Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew, Don Quixote issues an offer to anyone willing to play his game, and if just one person were to play, what fun they would have.
What would the world look like if we all believed in dragons again? If we all lived by a code? If instead of condemning the world around us, we started living life the way we believed it should be lived?
We all want the world to be a better place, and we all have our very own windmills to fight. Yet, a story such as this, foils and all, reminds us that at any instance we can pick up a lance, don a cape, and be a Knight for something greater than ourselves. And though we may fail, our story will live on, and maybe — just maybe — one day it will be a story worth having some fun and clowning around with.