Dear Miss Elphaba (Amy Ross)

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You are the best Elphaba I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot. I came to watch Wicked on the opening night at the Mayflower and I cannot wait to see it again on 20th of this month. If I can, I’ll get another ticket too, before you leave. My regret is that I wasn’t the first one to stand-up in the standing ovation on opening night, but I will be next time, because you are the best Elphaba I have ever seen.

I was nervous to see you, because Elphaba is my all-time favourite musical theatre character, so of course I wanted to like you. I was afraid you’d be too bold or witchy in the start, but you played her perfectly and I loved you. When you sang Wizard and I, I relaxed in my chair, because already it was a 10/10 for me.

Let me tell you briefly why I love Wicked.

Most of my life I’ve felt inferior to others due to the fact that I am different. My mum didn’t have an affair with the Wizard of Oz and drink his green elixir, resulting in me being born green… however, sometimes I think I may as well be green. Lucky (or unlucky) for me, I can hide my differences because they are invisible, and people cannot notice them by just looking at me. People don’t put their suitcases up in front of their faces when I approach them, and they don’t walk-the-other-way out of fear or disgust, but my condition does isolate me, and it does cause people to make assumptions about me that are not correct.

This is why I love Elphaba.

Elphaba never apologises for being green or tries to explain it… she just owns it. Despite all the hurt, guilt and rejection she has felt, she never loses the desire in her heart to be good. This is because her difference, like mine, is the thing that drives her to save the animals, and inspire the goodness in others. She has experienced ‘existing’ on a deeper level than the other students at Shiz, and it has made her inherently caring. For Glinda and Fiyero in particular, it is a shock to learn that happiness comes from being good to others, rather than from getting-what-you-want.

Elphaba teaches everyone that our differences are our strengths, and the weird quirks we try to suppress or hide are our talents that can make good for others.

People with Autism tend to have very intense interests in things. It is not the subject matter, but the intensity with which it is pursued, that makes the interest an autistic trait. Wicked has been a special interest of mine since 2013 and the more I learn about it, the more I appreciate it. Wicked (along with my black cat, Saffie) is what I turn to for comfort when the world isn’t making sense to me. Knowing lots of facts about something makes me feel better about all the social-knowledge and skills I lack, and my memory for facts is excellent. It is tough for me to know, that my favourite show, (Wicked) is in my favourite place, (The Mayflower) and I’m not there every night to see it. I have worked back stage at the Mayflower Theatre before, and I keep imagining all the props and costumes there. I think about the wigs and wands, the bubble dress, and all the scenery…

My mind is very mechanical: it always wants to know exactly how things happen, how things work on the stage. I’ve researched so much about Wicked: I know why Elphaba is called Elphaba; I know facts about all the costumes, the make-up, the wands and the history. I appreciate every instrument in the orchestra, every beat of the drum and every chord. I notice every new piece of choreography, every tiny difference from the shows I’ve seen before, and online.

My favourite thing to do is to listen to the lyrics of the songs, (I know every lyric to every song) and notice all the links and patterns and references. All my friends know that the Wicked soundtrack has been playing on-repeat in my car for about 3 years or more. I don’t think there is a match for Wicked in terms of lyrical cleverness, and I think Stephen Lawrence Schwartz is probably a lyrical genius.

I am glad he was inspired to adapt this story of friendship for the stage.

Friendship is very important in my life because (despite good intentions) I haven’t always been able to make-and-keep friends as well as other people can. This makes me fascinated by the whole process of friendship. Some people with Autism can be quite robotic about things: we respond well to direction, but if we aren’t told, taught or shown things, we don’t possess the ability to ‘just know’ like other people do. No-one teaches you how to make friends: what is ‘too much,’ what is ‘too little.’ It’s something that is just supposed to happen on balance by magic. This can cause quite a lot of hurt in us and I have been made to feel like I am a ‘bad’ person, because of my differences. If you are anti-social, it doesn’t matter too much, but if you are a wannabe ‘social butterfly’ like me, you can be quite vulnerable in friendships. The positive to this, however, is that when friendships do work-out between an autistic person and ‘neuro-typical’ person, they are precious to me on a deep level.

My good friends mean the world to me and, like yours, knowing them has changed me for good, for real. I hope they feel like that about me too. Having friends with differences teaches people patience and acceptance: it enables people to open-their-minds to a different version of the world and be a better person. I appreciate goodness in a person and that is all. In this circumstance I am blessed for being autistic, because Autism simplifies everything: it doesn’t care for popularity, beauty, brains, wealth or fashion. When I hear Elphaba and Glinda sing For Good, I think of my best friends and I feel immense love and gratitude. It feels like Glinda learns what it means to be truly good for the first time in this song.

The biggest lesson Wicked teaches me, is about the delicacy between ‘good’ and ‘bad’. People say my brain is ‘black’ and ‘white.’ I have a bit of a preoccupation with ‘good,’ and ‘bad,’ and I avoid ‘grey areas’ because they cause confusion and anxiety. This, (along with a proclivity to tell the truth) can make friendships and attempts at verbal empathy difficult. However, I know that ‘grey areas’ exist, and I am working on knowing how to accept them. It blows-my-mind to realise that the only character close to being wicked is Madame Morrible. How soul-destroying it must be for Elphaba to be seen as wicked when she is so good-hearted? How deceptive is the wizard, to let people believe he is “wonderful” when he is ordinary? How manipulative (or naïve) is Glinda, to call herself “good” when she is quite selfish? How fascinating that people can change? These people are not wonderful, wicked or good: nobody can be wholly wonderful, wicked or good. They are just people: products of their pasts, functioning in ‘grey areas.’ It is society that forces labels upon them and the labels are wrong.

Just because you’re green, and you can read the Grimmerie, doesn’t mean you’re a wicked witch.

We can’t change our differences but we can be good.

I am glad you didn’t die when Dorothy tried to melt you, and that your chant worked so that Fiyero could never die… (I had a Fiyero too, but he didn’t come back as a scarecrow, as far as I know) …because I’ll be coming back to see the show again before you all move to a different city. I’m the one that can’t immediately stand and head to the bar in the interval, because Defying Gravity is so breath-taking. Thank you for being the best Elphaba I have ever seen, and please tell Glinda that she is the best Glinda I have ever seen… and your flying monkey too.

 

 

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