[Originally published in the Star & Wave newspaper on August 2, 2023.]
By Roy Steinberg, Producing Artistic Director
Charles Dickens was big on friendships. One of his most enduring quotes and, indeed, a theme of several of his works, is, “A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.”
Cape May Stage explores the nature of friendship in its current production, “Art” by Yasmina Reza, running now through August 27. While written with great wit by a woman, it uses the relationships between three men to make profound observations about the importance and fragility of friendship.
Contemporary polls surprisingly show that people in the 21st century often value their friendships even above their family. What does this mean?
Many languages use different words for a friend, depending on the nature of the friendship. English, however, uses the same word for a school chum, neighbor, work colleague, teammate, drinking buddy, lover, and friend you would die for. Aristotle described a friend as “one soul abiding in two bodies.”
Friendships themselves vary. They can be passionate and short-lived, start slowly and build over a lifetime, or simply grow out of shared experiences or support offered in times of need.
Friendships can also be fragile and ruptured by seemingly trivial actions. A confidence shared can feel like a betrayal. A marriage or divorce can exclude old friends. Distance can be hard to overcome, even in this technological world; and a harsh word about a partner can destroy even the most committed friendships.
The theme of our 2023 season at Cape May Stage is the importance of other people and how friendships influence our lives. Cape May is known to visitors as a friendly place. Someone with a map on Washington Street Mall is likely to be helped by multiple passersby, and local merchants are known to help one another. All of us Cape May Stage are grateful for the extraordinary support we receive every day from this community.
Psychologists tell us that deep friendships can contribute to our longevity and so we present this important award-winning comedy with our best wishes for a long and happy life with friends and family. Our hope is that we can laugh at the play’s three characters and, perhaps, recognize bits of behavior that we know from our own lives.
Laughing together in our beautiful and historic Robert Shackleton Playhouse is a good place to begin new friendships and celebrate years of long-lasting connections.
For more information about our season, please visit www.capemaystage.org.