Theatre Preview: A Wonderful Life

It’s during December in particular when people wish someone would come and save them from the cruelties of life. The month of December brings with it the pressure of exams, the stress of the holidays and the realization that another year has come and gone so fast that you didn’t have time to accomplish all you thought you would. Unfortunately, around the university this December is no different. The school is full of frustrated, stressed and sleep-deprived zombies all brooding over life’s unpleasant complications.

Although depressingly pessimistic students found around campus don’t feel the commercialized holiday cheer, it is still felt by George Bailey, the central character in Echo37’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Adapted from the screenplay by Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life presents the character of George, who is a kindhearted, middle-aged man with failed dreams and tremendous sadness. Through life’s trials, George has compromised his goals and is left to question the value of his life.

“He is kind and giving to the extent that everyone depends on him,” explains artistic director Dave Gagnier. “He’s a dreamer but is too nice to pursue his own goals and puts others before him. It’s a play about revaluating one’s dreams.”

George lives with the fear of falling short of life’s expectations and falls into the trap of thinking life’s values are measured by material wealth, not by the people around you. Seeing George’s crisis, an angel is sent down to save his life and the two travel 30 years into the future to assess the value of George’s existence. Through their journey, George learns although he may not have accomplished all that he had intended, he is still valued by those around him.

“It’s a story of one person and how many lives are touched by that single person,” says Gagnier. “The meaning of life is to find happiness through helping others be happy.”

While most people will not receive visits from angels, nor will they be traveling through time any time soon, this holiday classic still rings true for many since George’s crisis is often strikingly familiar. In today’s society, people are easily caught up in life’s commotion and forget that the true pleasures come from everyday, simple gestures.

“Everybody does have a wonderful life if they look at the people around them and the quality relationships they maintain,” preaches Gagnier. “That’s how to define how you really live life.”

It’s a Wonderful Life is a play about taking a step away from the everyday stresses and waking up to the relationships with others and discovering the value they offer. If you are having difficulty appreciating the company of the people around you, take the time to see It’s a Wonderful Life. Chances are it will make you realize despite the problem’s life throws your way; you truly do have a wonderful life.

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