I don’t know how old I was when I saw Man of La Mancha at a summer stock barn theater near my home town. I was young, maybe ten, and during those magical hours, I got hooked. Hooked on story. Hooked on music. Hooked on dreams.
It’s no surprise that many years later, when I decided it was time to launch a long-time dream of my own, I looked back to that play for inspiration. I can’t say exactly why, at the age of possibly ten, that the character of Aldonza (a bar maid and prostitute who men callously used and abused) would have spoken to me more than Dulcinea (Don Quixote’s idealized version of a beautiful princess). Sure, these women were one and the same. Aldonza represented the cold hard truth of current reality. Dulcinea represented another possibility—a potential future truth, perhaps. By the end of the play, these personas had merged. And from there, in my ten-year-old mind, anything was possible.
To be honest, I haven’t attended a theatrical performance of Man of La Mancha since that day. So my interpretation is biased by perspective. Really, though, what interpretation isn’t? To me, Aldonza represents beauty and truth in all its messy and complicated combinations. It represents changing perspectives, from the inside out. If we dream the impossible dream, who knows what might happen as a result?
With the Aldonza experiment, I seek to explore the infinite possibilities in response to a question that’s been on my mind for a very long time: what if we saw things just a little bit differently?