POST: 'Avenue Q' - What is purpose? And how do you find it?
What's it about?
Avenue Q is a musical that circles around Princeton, a fresh out a college graduate with a B.A. in English, no money and hopes of finding his life's purpose on Avenue Q in New York City. We also see into the lives of his neighbors and friends, a melting pot of humans and puppets as they navigate adulthood.
What'd I experience?
What is PURPOSE? How do we find ours?
Can we live a fulfilling, meaningful life having never found our purpose?
It's the night before the Sunday matinee and I can't sleep. All I keep thinking about is how overly excited I am to finally be seeing a show that has been on my theatre bucket list since I was a freshman in high school (so AWHILE ago)! To say that I was excited would be putting it very lightly. This was me the entire morning before the show:
I'm on my way to the theatre and the weather is absolute perfection. I had never been to the New World Stages Theatre before and as soon as I walk in, I love how intimate it is. The venue itself feels very much like a museum of sorts! My only conversation at the theatre went something like this:
Usher: Hi, can I see your ticket please?
Me: *hands him my ticket*
Usher: Excellent! So your original seat is in the Mezzanine but we have a really small house this afternoon. Would you like to be in the Orchestra instead?
Me: Uh, YES!!
Usher: Great! Follow me!
Okay. So the show hasn't even begun and already, I am on cloud nine. Instead of my original Mezzanine seat, I end up in the first seat of Orchestra Row J - a perfect distance away from the stage! AWESOME!
Once the show begins, I notice immediately that the ensemble is small, no more than ten. The cast is diverse - there is a black woman playing Gary Coleman (Unexpected) and an Asian woman named Christmas Eve (Even More Unexpected). I'm smiling. And laughing. I'm smiling and laughing a lot. It's almost as if my adult life has just been slapped in the face by my childhood, one that consisted of ALOT of Sesame Street.
One of the puppeteers looked oddly familiar. I open my playbill during intermission looking for his name and picture. Sadly, the STAGELIGHT playbill does not have the same format as the traditional PLAYBILL so, I google his name to see if I've seen him perform in another show. Jed Resnick. Looks familiar and his name sounds familiar but based on his resume, I haven't seen him in anything else. Strange. But he plays Trekkie in this afternoon's performance and I'm fully content with that.
There were moments throughout the show that I felt a little uncomfortable. There is even a full disclaimer right outside of the theatre that says: WARNING: THIS SHOW CONTAINS FULL PUPPET NUDITY. This particular show consists of a lot of sex, discussions of sexuality and the fact that Everyone's a Little Bit Racist and that even normal people think that The Internet Is For Porn. But even though I'm slightly uncomfortable, I'm loving every second of it. There is an honesty behind all of the uncomfortable moments - I feel like everything being discussed on stage is something that I have thought about or experienced at some point and that makes every one of those moments stomach-achingly hilarious. I think at one point, I even felt a tear leave my eye from laughing so hard.
Then it hits me. I will be Princeton in no time at all. Princeton is a recent college grad with a B.A. in English on the search of his life's purpose. I am at a place in my own life where I am counting down the days until I will receive that piece of paper with a B.A. in Psychology, placed into the ruthless world of adulthood just hoping and praying that all the work I've done will be worth it. But both Princeton and I have decided to get a degree in something we probably will never be able to use, living in a busy city that can feel direction-less and lonely.
The final musical number For Now is exactly what I needed to leave completely satisfied. Princeton has accepted that he may not have found his life's purpose yet but everything he has done and will do will be for a time, even if it's only for a small amount of time, it's still worth it. Sure it can be overwhelming to not know where you're going to end up, if that degree you worked so hard for and spent so much money on will be worth it but as long as you have friends - people in your life to fill you with laughter even through the hard times and faith that everything will go the way it should, then life. is. good.
What is my life's purpose? I do not have the slightest idea. But, right now? I want to fall in love. I want to do something, no matter how tedious, to help someone else in need and I want to spend every day surrounded by supportive people and laughter. Just like Princeton.