THEN...AND THEN...AND NOW... By Thomas Putnam
Remember Peter, Paul and Mary? Folk singers, social activists, tight harmonies? They sang a song that was a bit different from their usual songs (and yes they did have a wide variety of styles.) The tune was by Bach. The words were 1960s Tom Glazer. Our HG Youth Choir is singing it in 2022. That's three different eras of engagement. You may have read Barbara Biddison's blog about three different eras of costuming involved in our play INTO THE BREECHES. I'm looking at this song also through the lens of our our experience with this extraordinary play.
“Because all me are brothers, Wherever men may be,
And women all are sisters Forever proud and free.
No tyrant shall defeat us; No nation strike us down.
And all who toil shall greet us The whole wide world around”
Okay...doesn't that just ring a little close to home at the moment. There's a tyrant ruthlessly taking over a country. We're witnessing men and women standing against this tyrant. In the play there is a tyrant taking over a country and more in 1942. And the play is about producing a play that was written in the late 1500s about a war in the 1300s. There are layers and layers and eras and eras at play here: in the play, in the song, in our lives. Can we even remotely realize the connection?
“My brothers and my sisters Forever hand in hand;
Where chimes the bell of Freedom, There is my native land.
My brother's fears are my fears; Yellow, white, or brown;
My sister's tears are my tears, The whole wide world around”
The connections just keep revealing themselves. The play beautifully explores race relations in the 40s. It's painful at times to realize the historical racism of the time. Did you know that the blood of a person of color was not accepted for the war effort? I won't even begin to explore the racism that is still so painfully present in our legislative system...and elsewhere.
“Let ev'ry voice be thunder; Let ev'ry heart be strong.
Until all tyrants perish Our work shall not be done.
Let not our mem'ries fail us, The lost years shall be found,
Let slav'ry's chains be broken the whole wide world around.”
Powerful song. Bach in early 1700s, Tom Glazer and PP&M in 1960s, HG Choir and Ukraine in 2022. Powerful play. Henry V 1300s, Shakespeare 1600, setting of play 1942, HG production and Ukraine in 2022. We are not alone. We are not alone. We are not alone. “Let not our memories fail us.”