LOBBY HERO premiered in Manhattan, in March of 2001, six months before 9/11 and a year into the 21st century. 2001 was filled with terror, sadness, reflection and honor—a year about caring for others, a year for heroes.
But, as the world turns, we have moved on.
In the fourteen years since 2001, we have worked ourselves right smack dab into the middle of a collective cynicism—especially when it comes to heroes. We live in a world of winners and losers, and more often than not, the winners are not good role models. We drown ourselves in sound bites and social media. Twenty four by seven, any one of us might be bared and dissected. Our flaws are revealed instantly—and repeated over and over again. Never before has everything about everybody been so accessible. Never before have we had the capacity to actually become the media ourselves—and the judges. We have the power to knock any wannabe hero right off their pedestal in 140 characters or less. You are in and you are out!
In the context of this new world cynicism, how could any person possibly stand up to the scrutiny? And, what the heck is a hero anyway?
In LOBBY HERO, playwright Kenneth Lonergan grapples with these complex and ambiguous questions of who, what and why a hero might be. And he clearly does this within the context of our times. Did he foresee the new cynical and dangerous direction in which our society is heading?
After reading the play for the first time, I was angry and annoyed with the characters because they let themselves and each other down. But Jeff, William, Bill and Dawn represent regular people, like you and me—multi-dimensional folks facing bad and worse moral choices about loyalty, family, race, gender, discrimination and justice. How could I possibly dislike them for making poor decisions based on overwhelming moral and social pressure or nearly impossible extenuating circumstances?
Speaking through the character of Jeff, Lonergan asks, “But somebody made up the law, didn’t they? Some people made up the law, a bunch of people like you and me literally sat down and wrote it up…God didn’t make up the rules.”
Perhaps Lonergan is suggesting we shouldn’t expect too much from our heroes.
Heroes are people. People make mistakes.
Lis Kalogris is a writer/producer/collaborator who has a passion for the Arts and for her family. She is a collector of visual art and craft who has done media and multi-arts project development and production. Her company, Flying Bulldog Productions LLC, has produced theatrical works in the Philadelphia area, San Diego and off-Broadway . Lis’ current musical theatre project, IN MY BODY, will premiere in Philadelphia in the Fall of 2016. Lis, and her husband, Mike, are thrilled to be Honorary Producers for LOBBY HERO at Theatre Horizon.