Yesterday a friend shared the performance report from the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis. I had been having a pretty rough day, and this account of the performance changed my entire attitude. I was awe-struck.
If you can't read the above text, here's what it says:
It was generally agreed by all that the show was “kind of rough” (tech wise). But after the show we learned that there was a 5 year old autistic child in the house. He had never spoken. But as the lights went down, he began to talk. In full sentences. He called the teacher by name. She had no idea he even knew her name. He was engaged in the show – at one point commenting to the teacher that if there is a dragon then there will be fire. And there was fire. He talked all throughout the show. When the lights came back up – he quit talking and returned to his world. So, yes, I could list all the little things that wrong today but that is not what this show is about. And that little boy certainly didn’t see those things as he sat talking in the dark theatre watching Harold and his Purple Crayon.
This. This. This is why art matters. Art reaches into those hidden places places inside of us. Art speaks in a language that doesn't even have words. Art touches the unknowable. Art inspires dialog. Art creates something, when at times people thought there was nothing at all.
Can you imagine? Five years old, and never having spoken? Five years of nothing, and then complete sentences.
I only wish his parents had been with him at the performance. And I really, really hope that someone buys this family season tickets to the theater.
The next time that someone suggests that the arts are unnecessary "extras" in our society, I want you to think of this particular five-year-old child and the power that the arts can have.