Those who gathered for a recent Morning Ex to hear selections from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat enjoyed more than toe tapping music and song; they were part of an assembly weaving together reflections on the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as an act of inclusion that brought together voices of different faiths through a shared story and performance.
Music Department Co-Chair Kingsley Tang opened the assembly with an overview of the show. He explained that Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was based on the ancient story of Joseph, a man who overcomes the cruelty of his brothers and rises to a position of power because of his ability to tell the future by interpreting his own and other people’s dreams. Initially, Joseph encounters his brothers and tests them, but he comes to discover they have changed and forgives them, and they all come together as a family.
Though the musical presents the story of Joseph in a secular, non-religious setting, Tang noted that this story is part of the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Since exploring any story from different perspectives helps one better understand religious traditions from around the world, Tang invited three faculty members to the stage to relate how this story reflects their own religious traditions.
Math teacher and Department Co-Chair Wendy Olt offered a Judaic perspective, including the major takeaway that, as people, we have the power to each become a better person and change. Educational Technology Integration Specialist Sarah Beebe, speaking within a Christian context, described how she uses the story in her Sunday school teaching about the human experience. Spanish teacher Yadiner Sabir explained that the Prophet Joseph is known as Prophet Yusuf in Islam, or Prophet José to Spanish-speaking Muslims and Christians. She noted that there was an entire chapter in the Quran dedicated to Prophet Yusuf called the Sura Yusuf and said that in the Muslim faith, Prophet Yusuf is known for possessing noble qualities such as patience, loyalty, bravery and compassion.
With these additional layers of religious context in place, Tang again took the stage and provided a secular overview of the music, lyrics and movement. He then welcomed Upper School vocalists in the Special Chorus, along with all members of the 3rd grade and some special guests (in costume) to the stage for a performance not soon to be forgotten.
Great job to all involved in orchestrating this thoughtful, inclusive and entertaining gathering!