Merry Christmas from everyone at Players of the Stage. Now that our show is done and my hand is on the road to recovery, I am able to begin posting again. In celebration of the holiday here is my director's note from our production of The Prince and the Pauper. God bless.
How little separates us all. Had I been born but a short walk from here, it could have been I whom that brute soldier had tossed to the ground – Edward
Mark Twain’s story of how two identical boys, born to different parents, into different social spheres, crossed each others paths is heartwarming tale of friendship. It is also an invitation for us to consider the humanity of all people regardless of class, ethnicity, gender, or religion.
Prince Edward began to identify with the pauper Tom as an actual person, and not just a novelty, when he discovered that they were identical. The realization that Edward had done nothing to deserve being born a prince, and Tom had done nothing to deserve to be born a pauper, was the first step in acknowledging their equality. The infamous mix up that forced the young boys to exchange places further helped Edward to realize that all his subjects were his fellow people, and that they deserved to be treated with dignity.
“Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” This is a famous saying that Prince Edward would support. His experience as a pauper had a definite impact on how he viewed not only those who were different from him, but also those from his own sphere. Living as a pauper gave him the appreciation he needed to be able to view all his subjects as his equals in dignity and worth.
This is not an easy lesson to learn. Social prejudices and personal pride are hard to overcome, and we will likely never have the advantage that Edward had of actually living another person’s life. Fortunately, someone made the exchange for us, which makes it possible for us to treat each other with kindness and dignity.
I don’t know if Twain thought of his story’s parallel to the Great Exchange as he wrote, but I couldn’t help notice it. A prince exchanges his place with a pauper, and lives his life, takes his beatings, and then when restored to his rightful place, the prince includes the pauper in his glory. The biggest difference in this exchange is that it was intentional.
2,000 some years ago, the Prince of Peace became a pauper for us, took our beatings, exchanged His righteousness for our rags, and when He returned to His kingdom, He promised to give us a home with him one day. Jesus humbling Himself, walking, not a mile, but a lifetime in our shoes, allows us to treat each other with kindness. We treat each other with dignity, because to Jesus has made the offer of sharing His glory to all of us: not just to one gender, one class,
one social group, but to everyone who would receive the free gift by faith.
Several people were surprised when I told them what show we were doing this December, because it wasn’t a Christmas play. Christmas isn’t mentioned at all. But it makes me think about Jesus coming down to earth to take my place, which means it’s Christmas enough. I hope it will make you think about what the Great Exchange means for you.
Merry Christmas and God bless.