The Word From George

George is often found sitting outside of Sanctuary a couple of hours before it opens on a Thursday or a Sunday.  George is a quiet, genial man.  He reminds me of my late grandfather: they have the same haircut, the same glasses, the same round face.   At church, George is usually the first to holler out a hymn he’d like to hear.  He favours the only song I truly can’t stand, a marching clunker sung to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of The Republic”.  But if I’m going to forgive anyone, I will forgive George.

George came to see The Elephant Man on Friday.  He came again on Saturday.  By intermission on the first evening, he was uncontainable.  “It’s magical,” he said.  “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

We’ve been doing theatre at Sanctuary for five years now.  I assume George has come out to some of the other shows.  But honestly, I don’t really remember.  He’s certainly never spoken to me about a play.

“We should do this one every year!” he said.  “It’s just very moving, very excellent.”

One of my great delights during the spring play is the unexpected audience members who are touched by particular stories.  During Passages, it was Sunny, a transient man who sat outside of Sanctuary after every show to tell me he enjoyed it again, but could I please take out all of the swearing for the sake of the kids.  During Drawer Boy, it was the chorus of men who came to moo their appreciation to the actors every night, and in particular Bruce, the schizophrenic gentleman who created complex theories about the connection between Michael Healey’s words and Hamlet.  Last year, a number of our ladies were overwhelmed by the content of Wonderful.  This year, it’s George, new-found Elephant Head.

We all need art.  We all need art.  We all need art.

There is something in John Merrick’s story that is moving George.  It’s calling out in him and he’s calling back.  This is not because of George’s street status.  It’s because George is human.  The plays we do each year are not for one demographic; they’re for everyone.  They’re an equalizer, a reminder that we all have hearts calling out, calling back.


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