I start the show entering the stage, drinking in my new surroundings with both hope and anxiety, constantly trying to protect my daughter from the hardships we face on the ship as well as when I am exploring the space and interacting with the other communities in the show. As I move to the next scene, imagining the deserted deck of the rag ship on the downstage right platform. I prepare my daughter to enter a new world completely unfamiliar to her, and help her adjust to our new lives, without her mother and in a strange land. “Journey On” reveals my optimism, despite the caution I show in preparing my daughter. While I am not sure what to expect, I am more than ready to believe that this is the end of a long journey filled with tribulations.
In “Success” this optimism overwhelms me, and I allow myself to get my hopes up, which I believe is rather uncommon. Though this scene passes by very quickly, it marks an important transformation in my worldview. When I first arrive, I am so confident in my eventual success that I turn Emma away, and rebuff her kindness, even though I understand the reality of our desperate situation. By the end, America’s cruelty has made a distinct impression on me and I lash out, frustrated that I haven’t yet accomplished my lofty goals. Houdini’s words remind me that I don’t measure my success in dollars, but in how happy my daughter is. I realize that I must find a way to bring her the success I seek.
My proceeding journey brings more hardship for a time, and sees me become more desperate, now bound to tyrannical mill owners and threatened by a striking mob. Once again, I decide to leave for the sake of my daughter. When I am faced with losing my child for a second time, I see that we both live in fear, and comfort the little girl on the train in “Gliding”. I try, unconvincingly, to still my own fear as well. Afterwards, the last the audience sees of me in first act on my own storyline, the conductor’s words have once again given me hope, and alleviate my fears.
When I come back in act two, the urgency has completely left my life. Despite my bombastic director’s exterior, I know that the rigors of my work are nothing compared to trying to scrape together enough to feed my daughter. I revel in my new life, and enjoy even the frustrating parts of it. Even through uncooperative actors and a demanding studio, I enjoy every moment of a life with a margin of error. However, my daughter’s happiness still concerns me. When I run into Mother, certainly remember the kindness she showed me at the railroad years before. but more importantly, I see that she, and the little boy, can make my daughter happy. “She has never laughed like this” is perhaps the culmination of my journey.