When I was in grade 8, I played Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs in our school play. I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself “yeah, so what? tell me something interesting”. Well, I’m female so I think playing a role usually, including originally in 1939, performed by a male is interesting. Granted, it wasn’t a groundbreaking thing but it’s still kinda cool. To me at least. Especially since initially I was denied the opportunity to even try out for it. Little did my principal know who he was dealing with. Me.
I’m certain no ill harm was meant by the teacher running the show who said I couldn’t audition for the role of The Wizard. They were nice enough and just going with the ‘normal’ flow of casting our production of The Wizard Of Oz. It was afterall a male role, so they wanted a boy to play it. But I really, really, really wanted to be in the show and the Wizard was the only role I was interested in. I’m a tomboy so I didn’t want the girly-girl fluffy roles of Dorothy or Glinda. Didn’t want green skin and to have water thrown on me. And while I’m short like a munchkin, didn’t want a small role. Go big or go home. Looking back, maybe it was my love for characters who initially seem to be rotten tomatoes and then turn into the sweetest things in the garden. Darth Vadar, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Rizzo come to mind. Or maybe it was just because I’m a rebel, with or without a cause, and in this case, I had a cause. I don’t like being told what to do, remember? Or in this case, what I’m not allowed to do.
After being denied the audition, I spent the evening preparing notes of things I wanted to say to the principal about this injustice in worldly affairs. Okay, so it was a speech. Notes, speech. Tomato, tomatoe. Although not a feminist by its strict definition, I will fight for women’s rights. Because they are rights, not because they are for women. I do consider myself an equalist and a humanist. And regardless of my gender, I wanted to participate in what was advertised as an “open call for auditions”. And I told my principal all about my desires.
After I concluded my speech, my principal noted I had made some excellent points, my presentation was well done, and I should consider being on the debate team in high school. I didn’t join that club but interestingly enough, that same year I did get voted “most likely to become Canada’s first female prime minister” in our yearbook. I guess some other girl named Kim something-or-another got that elementary school nomination too. My principal also reversed the decision of the teacher and told me I could try out for the role of the Wizard. I was ecstatic. Not just for being able to audition, but also for that little girl part of me who was scared poopless about standing up for herself and her values but who faced her fears and did it anyway.
Did I get the role because I was a girl? Don’t know. Did I get it because I fought for it? Not sure on that either. Did I get it because the casting teacher was told they had to give it to me? Hope not. Did I get it because they dual-cast all of the lead roles and didn’t have a second person to give it to? Mmm, maybe partly as I can’t recall anyone other than the boy the role was also given to and myself trying out for it. Did I get it because I actually had the talent to perform the role? Well of course! At least that’s what my mom said, bless her heart. Okay, and so did a few (read: a lot) of others who saw my performances and commended me on a job well done, especially because it was a cross-gender role interpretation and how well I transformed my voice to make it sound male. Maybe I really was a wizard after all.
And I loved every minute of being in the play and being the Wizard. I loved getting to be mean and angry and yell at people. I loved the mystery and suspense of people not knowing who was really behind the curtain, figuratively and literally. I loved being the revered one whose wisdom and powers were sought after. And I loved being able to give people what they wanted. I got to be the bad girl-playing-a-guy gone good.
You have to spend one day as or with your favorite fictional character.
Which one would it be and what would you do?
As Wizard For The Day, I bestow on you the following:
For the scarecrows …
A ThD – a Doctor of Thinkology so you can be as “clever as a gizzard”. You already have and will continue to gain experience. But what you may feel you are lacking is the wisdom to appreciate the lessons experience has to offer you. Yes, I know, life can suck sometimes. My skin cancer diagnosis a few months ago sucked big time. So did the surgery I recently had to remove a tumour on my head. But I am optimistic that there have been and will be many lessons I can be taught from it. I wear hats now, so that’s a good start I hope.
“Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge.” – The Wizard
For the lions …
I wrap around you a medal of valor, a Triple Cross, so that you can be as “brave as a blizzard”. I also hereby declare that you are lifelong members of the Legion of Courage. Fear is simply an acronym for F**k Everything And Run, or it can be an abbreviation for Face Everything And Recover. In my case, what I have to recover from is usually myself, my own twisted and distorted perceptions of reality. I know I need to be reminded of what Nelson Mandela learned, maybe you do too: ‘courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it’. I was scared to go to my principal but I did it anyway. I hope that your new medal of valor helps you face your fears and triumph over them as well.
“True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.” – The Wizard
For the persons of any gender classification who happen to be made of tin …
I have something for you too. I gift you with a heart-shaped watch to wear as a testimonial in consideration of your kindness, to remind you of your ability to be “as gentle as a lizard”. I know it can be hard to do at times. I gave the finger to someone who dangerously cut me off while driving the other day. Not the kindest, gentlest thing to do. Later I felt bad about it so tried to make amends in an indirect way with a random act of kindness in buying another driver’s coffee order for them at the drive-thru. I hope it helped restore the negative karma I had put out there. And just as I am perfectly imperfect, you might be too. Looking for an opportunity to void out some negative karma you may put out in the universe? Maybe one of my favourite blogs I follow can help, The Kindness Blog. And don’t forget that YOU are wearing the watch – that means you need to be kind to YOU too. Don’t beat yourself up about what you did/didn’t do. Enough said, the Great Oz has spoken.
“Brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”
The Tin Man
Wow, that was fun, acting the role of the Wizard once again. Please do let me know if any of the things I sent your way were received, by way of sending me a comment below.
Oh yeah, there’s one more thing I get to do while I’m the Wizard: send you home. So go already why don’t you? Don’t stay here along the side of the road while there’s a fine yellow brick road waiting for you. Put your ruby slippers on, close your eyes, and tap your heels together three times. And go home. I hear there’s no place like it.
“Home is a place we all must find, child. It’s not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere.”
Glinda – The Good Witch
Image source credits:
Oz – Insomnia Cured Here user on flickr.com, CC 2.0 Generic
Fear quote – seaternity user on flickr.com, CC 2.0 Generic
Diploma, medal, and watch – John Johnson user on flickr.com, CC 2.0 Generic
Ruby slippers – teamjenkins user on flickr.com, CC 2.0 Generic