To the editor:
In this challenging world, our fears about life, death, normalcy -- even love -- are often at a fever pitch and can lead us to reject honest but seemingly inappropriate works of art that may provide empowering insights into those fears. Translation: We often react instinctively to fears (sometimes rightly so) with habitual thought and emotional patterns and biases that feel safe. We rightly want to feel protected by familiar patterns as the three primal needs resurface during such times: food, shelter and clothing. Hence, we don't want our art to reflect reality but, as during the Great Depression, World War II and other crises, we often prefer that they provide us with escapist experiences.
Good art, however, finds ways to merge enjoyment with self-educational opportunities, often sensed between the lines. The current theatrical and energetically moving Department of Theatre and Dance production of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is one such 21st century opportunity for all of us -- school administrators, students and community members -- to experience this rich mix of entertainment and spiritual nourishment. In times of trouble, it is incumbent upon us as thinking, responsible, conscientious and caring human beings to put our established beliefs to the test and not merely hide our sensibilities and hope for this country and planet.
Go see "Romeo and Juliet" for yourselves, and don't unthinkingly succumb to instinctual reactions to those rampant fears -- fears that may have the effect of discouraging your natural right to considered participation as intelligent, thoughtful and engaged human beings.
MARC STRAUSS, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau