Mindfulness, Different Perspectives and The Bardy Bunch


“Behavior makes sense from the actor’s perspective or they wouldn’t do it.

 -Dr. Ellen Langer

This quote rings a bell for me about how people can look at the same thing and see it totally differently… And how that is absolutely, positively wonderful, particularly in terms of teams and problem-solving for the world: The more perspectives you include the more possibility.

Examples come from all over the place. I just had a conversation with two teachers last week. One was introducing a new approach, Target Math or Deconstructed Target Math, but it worked like this for her 5th graders:  She would write a number on the board, for example 10, and the students would be instructed to come up to the board one at a time and write down a way you could get to 10. Students wrote 7 + 3, 9 +1, 12-2, etc., until one student came up and wrote 2+2+2+2+2.  It actually blew the class away. It opened up the minds of the students to all kinds of possibilities.  Nobody else had looked at it that way, but once that unique perspective came up; the students were then able to come up with all kinds of possibilities.

Dr. Langer talks about perspective in her book (and deep research) on Mindfulness. In fact she calls “Acting from a single perspective” as one of the three definitions that help understand the nature of mindlessness. Or, as she calls it in her book, “acting like there is only one set of rules.

Mindfulness, The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch.

And then there’s Keith Partridge and Marcia Brady. Yes, that Keith Brady and that Marcia Brady from The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch respectively.

I’ve been thinking about this idea of how wonderful radical and dramatic reinterpretations are after seeing an hilarious (especially if this was your after-school fare all through grade school) show called The Bardy Bunch at The Mercury Theater in Chicago.  It was an epic battle between the families, infused with Shakespearean ghosts, verse, and themes, with all of your favorite Partridge Family songs (and at least a couple from The Brady Bunch), completely re-imagined and sung in a new context.

It is brilliant. I would say I have no idea how he came up with it, but playwright Stephen Garvey says “I was doing laundry when “The Bardy Bunch” hit me. He started with thinking of Keith Partridge and Marcia Brady as the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet and it steamrolled from there, with different Partridge and Brady favorites inserted into Shakespeare classics.

Spoiler alert:  if you are going to see the play please don’t read anymore. (and you can get tickets here through November 20, 2016 in Chicago)

The cast all look amazingly like their originals. Alice remains a constant, always busy and rushing across the stage with her classic quips, while we see the dark side of some of the other characters (who knew they had one!).

For my favorite songs, I’ll Meet you Halfway is between Danny and his mom, when he admits to accidentally killing Cindy and wants to come home.  And you know that line about “my pillow to my head” in I Think I Love You? That was Keith committing suicide, after finding Marcia, supposedly dead, in a perfectly told story of Romeo and Juliet.

Who thinks of these things? Well, lots of people do and what we hope is that when people come up with new and novel ways to look at things, they won’t be treated like Jan who even in death, was completely invisible to those around her.

Listen and look and ask: I see it this way. How do you see it? And if someone stares aghast, saying your interpretation is a little out there? Perhaps the right answer is, “well, thank you.”

It’s opening a doorway to a whole new world.