Of Courage, Joy and Unity – Revisiting Canisius Art Blast 2014

This post should be published on last May, which I never did. However, it is still valuable to late publish below article. One I have written as a reflection-writing to be accompaniment to audiences who attended the CAB 2014.

Alas, the booklet did not post it rightly. I consider to repost it here on my own blog page. The show itself were tremendously gorgeous and proudly presented. Students really performed with confidence and most important, they were looked …. very happy!

If you like to see some of the footage you may like to see here on youtube.



Now is the time to seize the day, stare down the odds and seize the day.

Courage cannot erase our fear, courage is when we face our fear. 

Once we’ve begun, if we stand as one, someday becomes somehow, and a prayer becomes a vow

- Seize The Day, Performed by The Newsies.   

Summer of 1899 in New York City was one that historically noted in American history. Louis Ballatt or his friends used to called him as Kid Blink – so named because he was blind in one eye – gathered a large number of New York City newsboys in a two weeks strike refusing distribution of New York World, newspaper owned by Joseph Pulitzer and New York Morning Journal, owned by William Randolph Hearst. The strike was weighed heavily to World and Journal’s distribution and later inspiring other newsboys community to strike including newsboys strike in Butte, Montana (1914) and in Louisville, Kentucky (1920). Decades later, when child-welfare examined and considered as one that should be included in basic human’s rights, this event believed to be one make greater influence.

Newsies: The Musical is a Disney Theatrical Production started on September 25, 2011 at the Paper Mill Playhouse and a year later being performed in Broadway. It is based on a 1992 musical movie titled “Newsies”. Both film and its theatrical version inspired from the above newsboys strike in New York City. A fictional leader Jack Kelley is used instead of Kid Blink for an unknown reason.

The strike itself something which interesting to be examined. The Newsies –  a called to newspaper boys – refused to purchase World and Journal since they raised a bundle of a hundred newspaper from fifty cents to sixty. It happened since 1898, when the Spanish-American War exploded, newspapers around the country had increasing number of its sales. After the war they returned to their original price, but it did not happen to World and Journal papers. Both kept their increased price and made them harder to be sold. Even worse, newsies were sides who took its burden which happened since if they cannot sell these papers they did not allow to return them. After two weeks on strike, the two newspapers agreed to buy back all unsold papers, although they refused to lower their price.

It is obvious that the newsies story is about a fight from minors against the power of capital owners. These kids did not seek an easier life nor take opportunity to be a little richer, they simply were looking for justice and their own rights to live. Nonetheless, their effort would have less impact – even none at all – if they did not unite in one vigour. Therefore, Newsies: The Musical as a play goes beyond than just a story of seeking justice. Its worth do not come from its story, but from its spirit.

Three things should be considered as integrated main themes of this play: courage, joy and unity. They are all made Newsies: The Musical worth to be watched and played. The courage of newsies do not emerge from a single or individual passion. Jack Kelley – the main character of the play – is portrayed as a charismatic leader whom could not rise if he never be able to love and be loved by his member of the newsies band. He is influence and be influenced by his community. His passion which soon become the passion of the newsies to seek justice comes from his compassion in understanding the suffering of his newsboys’ mates to sell papers. There are friendship and solidarity which bind them both physical and spiritual. These are keys to understand their shout in joy while proclaiming strike: “One for all and all for one!” (Seize The Day)

Joy comes forward after courage being made and stitched by union of heart and soul of the members. Friendship will bring along love and love will make people able to experience joy. A Catholic writer Heather King once writes, “Pleasure is shallow, but joy has pain in the middle of it. Pleasure comes and goes, but joy has eternity in it.” This sentence is echoing a reflection of 1Corinthian 13, where St. Paul writes that love will endure all things, including all burdens. It reflect a power of love to stay and to live, even in affliction toward life happened. Love will make people reach joy amidst pains and sorrows. Throughout the play, we will be presented performances or displays of a dynamism of joy. Actors move with joy and unafraid to show their happiness. This fact explains a lot about why Disney failed to reach success from their movie, but lure more and more audiences to their play at Broadway. They even awarded with Tony Awards in 2012.

Along with the above thoughts, this year Canisius Art Blast (CAB) should be something worth to be played and watched. Newsies: The Musical is a play which performed as a mean of learning to wisdom and to life. Aside of many hardship, hindrance and challenges which are experienced by the committees, students, choreographer, directors and all who involved to this play it is worth to noticed how joy and happiness stitches us in togetherness to make Newsies: The Musical as memorable and also be learned as well. It is valuable enough to strive for. The preciousness of this year CAB do not come from how well it is being performed or how many people come to watch this show, but its significance occurs from its process of learning and training.

In same step to this reflection, it is precious to notice that as community of learners, we should consider and take respect to a process of learning. Aside of many obstacles and challenges of educating young people, we have been invited and motivated to provide joy and happiness along toward a process of learning. Learning without joy and happiness will not allow us bear good fruits to knowledge and it will alienate any potential to make differences toward life.

Together as community, we want to celebrate this year CAB as our celebration in joy and happiness, raising  thanksgiving to the Lord our Creator and Almighty educator, and in the end we may take courage to make differences.