It’s been said that “All stories are Gilgemesh”. It can be entertaining to try to deconstruct all of Western Literature into one sentence. In Lit class I remember the instructor saying, “There are only two stories in the whole world: ‘Someone goes on a journey’ or “A stranger comes to town’.
Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” is a fabulous book exploring the core of storytelling in that vein. The myths and stories of all the humans on earth are explored, their similarities and differences discussed as well as the psychological need humans have to hear stories.
Nowadays we have film and computer-generated images to expand our imaginations. Music and light delight the ear as well as the eye and lead us into the world of storytelling.
Opera was the big-budget platform for storytelling before technology made music and images available to everyone at the local theatre. When I think of the collective effort that goes into producing a complete Ring of the Nibelung, I am astounded. And of course, it is a live performance requiring the hard work of several hundred people. It is like a battle, I think, getting everyone in their places when the curtain goes up…every note from every instrument, every voice raised in song, every swish of a costume and every flash of dragon-fire or valkyrie cry had to be planned, rehearsed and executed. This is 15 hours of live performance. Not played back to back…but if one opera is given every night for four nights it is still a formidable story-telling extravaganza. Perhaps the biggest and longest in the world.
Humans will always tell stories. You know that just by standing at the office water-cooler.
The delivery system has changed over the centuries, but the human stories have not. We still want to see evil defeated, the lovers united, and the weak become powerful by overcoming all odds.
The Epic of Gilgemesh may be 26 hundred years old, but it is still a good story, even today. I am eagerly waiting for the Feature Film. It’s about time.