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Contemporary Voices: Matilda

One of three award-winning scripts as part of this fall's script-in-hand play reading performances!

Every life is a miracle. So was this production.

"The most common thing in life is life
And yet every single life, every new life is a miracle!"

The prospect of putting together a staged reading of Matilda the Musical in 6 weeks was frightening. With such a large cast, many musical numbers, a script with long monologues, and a different dialect, there were always many moving parts to consider. However, from my perspective as the dramaturg for the production, it was clear to see just how miraculous the process was.

We were blessed since the beginning to have the focus and faith of our director, Melanie Cartwright, as she always prioritized having a spiritual warm-up as well as a physical and vocal one. Her vision as director, "Every life is a miracle," highlighted the importance of respect and focus in rehearsals, something that greatly benefitted the efficiency and tone of the rehearsal process. Additionally, the cast and production team embodied these ideals as they celebrated their castmates' performances in rehearsal, worked together on challenges, and created an atmosphere where nobody felt like a "lousy little worm."

As the production's dramaturg, I was tasked with bringing in activities for the cast to do to help unify them and stay in character during our long run-throughs. These activities included coloring pages of British cartoons, British school lunch menus to fill out as their characters, and blank pages to draw on to represent their character for the outside of their binders. While I was not a familiar face at every rehearsal, the cast openly accepted all my ideas and even colored with me! They proudly showed me their drawings and their ideas, and it truly felt like I was back in elementary school again - and it was awesome.

There were many reasons why this production was a miracle, from casting miracles, to blocking blessings, and even technological divine interventions. However, the fact still remains that the greatest miracles were us. And they are us. And they are you. We are all miracles, and always will be.

A note from director, Melanie Cartwright:

Roald Dahl’s Matilda may seem fantastical—even ridiculous—at first glance. After all, we don’t often hear of 5-year-old geniuses with telekinetic powers; and school principals who swing students around by the pigtails aren’t often on the news.

Upon closer look, however, we find that the story of Matilda is not far from our own. Who of us has never felt “just a bit different” than some of our friends? Surely we can all relate to feelings of powerlessness in the face of some authority figure—a boss, a school bully, or even a parent. Whether we are five or 105, we yearn, like Matilda, to right the wrongs of this world, and we dream of having strength and courage enough to fight the battles of our daily lives.

Matilda, then, is the story of you and me. It’s the story of God’s children who fight against injustice and receive the miraculous power to conquer enemies large and small. To those who believe in Him, God promises to manifest his power “unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.” (2 Nephi 26:13) Thus, “God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings.” (Mosiah 8:18)

As you enter the world of Matilda, we hope you can become as a little child. Come laugh and play with us, use your imagination, reconnect to the indomitable spirit of childhood, and believe in good things to come. May you know and remember that every life—especially your own—is a miracle.

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