Monday, June 8, 2015

"Fun Home": Records and Societal Shifts

Fun Home has set records in its Tony wins!  Let me count the ways.

I'm thrilled that the writing team was female, the first female writing team to win a Tony for a musical score.  They now join some of those household names:  Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Webber and Rice.

Yes, I realize it's probably only in my household that those names are instantly recognized.  Still, I'm thrilled that a pair of women has joined those names.

I think that the musical has also set a new record for most awards won for a musical.

And surely this is the first musical adapted from a graphic novel to win a Tony.  Is it the first musical ever adapted from a graphic novel?  I would guess yes, but I'm not sure.

Alison Bechdel is having a wonderful year, with her MacArthur grant back in October and now, this musical based on her work winning these awards.

When I was a teenager, I would have stayed up late, watching and studying.  Last night I did not.
 I haven't kept up with the theatre world the way I once did. I don't even go see plays the way I once did.  Of course, I wish that I would force myself to go out and see more live theatre. When we first moved to South Florida, I had colleague friends who routinely flew to New York for culture week-ends. I had dreams of doing that. I still do.

But here's an idea:   I can rekindle my early adolescent love. I can read more plays. It's less of a time commitment than reading novels,. They're portable (and weigh less than a novel). And a play that's been nominated for a Tony award is less likely to disappoint than novels that have been nominated for awards--some of those novels are just downright incomprehensible. And I wrote my M.A. thesis on James Joyce, so I'm used to dealing with difficult literature.
Let me begin with Fun Home.  I'll read the graphic novel.  I expect to like it better than Roz Chast's Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant.

And for today, I'll go through the day with the glow that I feel when someone who deserves good things gets her reward.  And the glow from thinking about how much the world has changed for the better:  women writers getting MacArthur grants, women writing teams winning Tonys, musicals with very different subject matters getting a Tony, a woman who begins by writing comic strips and moves into novel writing, so much to celebrate.

What a different world we live in today, so different than in the 80's, when I first discovered Bechdel's cartoons in alternative newspapers and feminist bookstores. I miss some of those now-gone feminist bookstores, but I rejoice in the other societal shifts.


Wendy said...

Have you read Fun Home yet? I downloaded it and read it after I read your post. I liked it a lot. I'm still thinking about it. The narrative was different than I expected: more telling than showing and fairly matter-of-fact in tone if not substance, but the showing was in the illustrations which are phenomenal and need to be studied for detail. Also, there's a substantial bit of Joyce in it.

Kristin said...

I haven't read it yet. I meant to read it when it came out, but then it slipped my mind. But your comment intrigues me! I shall have to check it out.

Kristin said...

I could literally check it out--our public library has it--just checked. Of course, if I had thought of reading it a few years ago, I probably wouldn't have had to get on a waiting list.