Da-da-da-dum (snap snap)!
With Halloween nearly two weeks away, we are in the heart of dress-up season.
I love to trade stories of the best and worst costumes from youth. Were you an amazing dragon? Did a homemade Superman costume fall flat? When you’re a kid, no Halloween is “just OK.”
Sure, some were in it for the candy and decidedly did not grow up into “Halloween people,” but many of us continue the tradition of transforming into someone — or something — else every October.
Last year, my husband and I took a ferry from Manhattan up the Hudson River to Tarrytown, the real-life location of Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod Crane was pursued by the Headless Horseman. There, dressed as Edgar Allan Poe and his raven, we were surrounded by the most intricate costumes I’ve ever seen, from classic Día de los Muertos skeletons to topical Trump-and-Hillary duos to ubiquitous unicorns.
Why do we continue to love costumes as adults? I believe it’s the rare chance to play together.
When I worked at The Sheridan Press in 2010, I had the fortune to interview Jessica Holt, the late founder of the Bauen Camp. Nestled in the hills about 20 miles west of Parkman, the residential camp hosted young artists from across the world for 11 summers.
When designing the program, Holt focused on her findings in her master’s thesis: the importance of play for all ages. When we play, she explained to me, we enter a different reality that allows for a space to open in us, emphasizing the contrast between our “intentional, instrumental, everyday” lives and “other less functional realities.” More fun, in other words.
Halloween numbers among the few North American rituals through which adults are given the socially acceptable opportunity to play. For one night, we get to flex our creative muscles and envision living as someone else, along with our transformed family, friends and neighbors.
This kind of interactive playing is healthy on many levels, according to Jessica’s thesis.
“The ritual act of play generates creativity, flexibility, compassion, community and aesthetic response,” she wrote.
That’s license enough for me. Are you ready to play, fellow grown-ups?
Join me at the WYO gala next weekend! In time for Halloween, the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center will host its annual fundraising event in the form of a dress-up gala. Centered around a fantastic musical production of “The Addams Family,” the evening includes hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at Frackelton’s, live and silent auctions and — get ready — a costume contest.
Have a great costume up your sleeve? The contest winner will get a ticket to next year’s gala.
But first, you have to get tickets for this year’s gala, which is Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. Get ye to the WYO box office or website (wyotheater.com). If you can’t make it, you can still catch the musical: Encore performances will be held Oct. 25-27 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 28 at 2 p.m.
Da-da-da-dum (snap snap)!