This note from our Director of Artistic Programs appears in the program for columbinus. We post it here to continue the conversation started by the Boston Globe over the weekend.
By David Dower
There is a house in my neighborhood that is guarded by a charming stone sentinel. It is a sculpture of a pig, seated placidly on his haunches, his gaze directed toward the street. He overlooks us all; our daily comings and goings, our sidewalk chats, the children and pets at play in their front yards.
His owners diligently dress the pig to mark significant occasions: on the first day of school he wears a backpack and sits with his lunch box as if waiting for the bus; on opening day of football season he wears a Pats cap and jersey; on Easter he sports big pink fuzzy ears and sits surrounded by brightly colored plastic eggs- our neighborhood has an Easter Pig. We walk by this bit of whimsy every day. We even send him Christmas cards to thank him for his efforts on behalf of our community.
Across the street, in the direction of his steady gaze, sits a house that has been visited by tragedy. A simple wreath adorns the front door, its colors the blue and gold of the Boston Marathon. I take its measure only out of the corner of my eye as I pass. Where the pig evokes such simple, even nostalgic, emotions each time I see a new outfit on it, the wreath is too complex to look at directly.
This complexity is what draws me to columbinus. We had determined to bring this production in the wake of the Newtown shooting and in dialogue with Emerson College President Lee Pelton’s leadership on issues related to gun violence on campuses nationwide. We did not know we’d be watching this production through the tangled web of conflicting emotions trailing in the wake of the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
From the detail found in these stories to the questions from the Columbine students, parents, and first responders, we now see ourselves in high definition. “This is, actually, not my story.” “This is, surprisingly, exactly how I feel.” “My son is that age.” “My mother taught at his school.” “Why these stories and not other stories?” “Why, period?” In these moments of recognition we develop our empathy. In the emotions triggered by the stories of others we come upon our own lingering shadows. And in our capacity to look directly at this event from this distance of time and geography, we can process events too close to confront head on.
While it is complexity that draws me to columbinus, it is a single, simple gesture from that stone pig that holds my own Pandora’s Box of emotions related to the Marathon. He began the morning dressed in a poncho, running shoes, and a medal. He watched the family across the street bubble excitedly out their door on their way to watch the race at the finish line. Hours later, the poncho, shoes, and medal were gone. In their place, a peace medallion hung around his neck, and a small box of tissues sat at his side.