Home is where the heART is

What an amazing, extraordinary event that was last night at the Belvoir Street Theatre with the Sydney Street Choir performing their version of the Orpheus and Eurydice story. I took some of my William Blake students with the intention of connecting them with immediate Blakean issues. These are still deeply part of our own society, despite all our enlightened ideas: issues of social disadvantage, exploitation and the tragedy of a society too concerned with its own welfare to really notice or care what happens at the fringes of its extravagance. Here in this performance were a group of deeply disadvantaged people who rose above their disadvantage through the agency of their songs, their ART. This is where the Orpheus and Eurydice legend so powerfully supported and mythologized the story of each of the participants in this play. Here were a group of suffering humans (who like Orpheus had lost what was of most importance to them), but who, through their passion, their commitment to the art of this choir, were able, like Orpheus to transform their lives and their environment. The performance was a powerful statement on the central importance of art in any and all communities to heal, to bind, to enoble. Orpheus is/was the God of this process and his power is something that continues to live through the Sydney Street Choir. It is also something that lives through every line that William Blake ever wrote, in his effort to transform a materialist world into a world in which art could function in this transformative way.

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