Living outside of New York, it’s easy to miss entertaining, insightful, and even inspirational stage plays. Thanks to Spike Lee, the entertaining, insightful, and inspirational Passing Strange was filmed on its very last Broadway performance in 2008, capturing an amazing theatrical experience in an appropriate medium for temporal and spacial export beyond the Great White Way. The semi-autobiographical, gospel/pop/rock-infused story of a black, middle-class, angst-ridden teenager who jets off to Europe in search of “The (ever elusive) Real” in the early 80s was brought to my attention by a college buddy of mine, himself casting off the binds of a nine-to-five to pursue artistic endeavors; he said he immediately thought of me and suggested I order the DVD. He explained his understanding of the show in a series of text messages:
[Passing Strange encompasses]…searching for the real more as a metaphor rather…ur purpose…the reason y u live and breathe…and the reason y ure here. Yes…this can apply to racial identity and culture but i thought it as something deeper than that. Defining your soul…devoid of culture or race. Him trveling and visiting different cultures trying to find where he fits is on the surface…but underneath it all laid something universal…regardless of upbringing…background…or race…the search for truth and the journey for inner peace. This can be applied to anyone…the person hopping from job to job trying to figure out what he or she needs to do in life to be happy…the person hopping from religion to religion to find the truth…or the truth that satisfies him or gives him peace…the chick hopping from man to man trying to fill the void that’ll finally make her feel complete…etc.To me the play hit on so many levels…so many artistic levels and the struggle that artists grapple with on a daily basis…established artists and up and comers trying to find their spot…their niche. Brilliant.
Need I say more? Watch this clip from The View, in which the supporting cast welcomes the protagonist to Amsterdam and “The Real,” then order the DVD and fly.