Come From Away – Grant Corriveau
“Come From Away,” the Tony Award-winning musical play, tells a true story of 38 flights grounded in a small Canadian town on 11 September 2001. It’s a remarkable story of community in the midst of adversity, of strangers who would never have otherwise met finding unity and friendship in the very midst of disaster. It is a work of media art about interrupted journeys.
The production uses a small cast of only a dozen actors to keep the story focused sharply on the humans. Each actor switches many times from one character to another with only the use of a simple prop, a hat, a coat, or even just a change in voice and body language. We the audience immediately see each character, sharply and clearly, as the actors become transparent through this donation of themselves to the roles they are playing.
After viewing it a third time, I am starting to understand better the underlying theme that is so compelling. It is this. Without denying the shock, the pain, the trauma and downright terror that all the participants in this story experience, this small play focuses on something else almost indescribable that also happens. During these five days the nearly 7,000 shocked and stranded plane people, and their approx. 11,000 equally-shocked hosts, create a microcosm that represents the only real solution to the troubles playing out in the surrounding world.
These reluctant visitors and their surprised hosts are faced with the need to overcome their fears and doubts to discover one-another. People from all over the globe, mainly citizens of the USA but many other countries as well, adherents to a wide array of religions, philosophies, faiths, races and backgrounds, come together and for that short time they became a community.
After all, we are all ‘come from aways’ at some point in life, in one way or another. At these times we will need the hospitality of strangers, and at the very same time, we will have an opportunity to extend the same to our fellow travelers – those sitting in that seat right next to us.
Towards the end of the play, the ‘Plane people’ are finally heading home – into the post-911 world, while the Newfoundlanders are dealing with that empty feeling after guests leave and there is time to process what just happened. They all have tasted “something” they can’t quite name (we might call it the kingdom of God or the kingdom of love). Just a taste. Just for a few days – but now, it’s gone, along with so many other things. The uplifting ending describes the many ways in which what they all took away with them still echos today.
This mutual hospitality – given and received – changes all of us who experience it. Our world’s only solution to our problems is something that we are truly only capable of through the spirit of love. God is love. Our journey continues…
Grant Corriveau is a retired airline pilot living in British Columbia, Canada, who now, among other pursuits, has turned his attention and focus to writing. “Uplift – A Pilot’s Journey” is Captain Corriveau’s chronicle of experiences, insights and sometimes humorous stories of his life in the air.