What Do Katherine Anne Porter and The Great American Mousical Have in Common?

Katherine Anne Porter was an essayist, novelist, social critic, Pulitzer Prize winner, who learned to be a survivor from an early age, and whose writings reflected her understanding that no matter how difficult life gets, one must hold on and go forward. As a brief biography on the PBS website states, “Often concerned with the themes of justice, betrayal, and the unforgiving nature of the human race, Porter’s writings occupied the space where the personal and political meet.”

She gave an interview to Barbara Thompson Davis for the Paris Review, in which she spoke of the arts, saying, “Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning.”

If you look at the upper right hand corner of my blog, you’ll see a list of links to the other pages on my site, under the title “Learn More!” Included in those pages is one devoted to that Paris Review interview, and the quote about the arts in particular.

But what does this have to do with The Great American Mousical, which is the topic of all my Wednesday posts this month?

Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, the authors of the book The Great American Mousical (coming soon, as a stage musical, to the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT) often use a paraphrased version of this Katherine Anne Porter quote when they speak to audiences about the importance of the arts. In fact, one of those speeches introduced me to this quote, and it obviously resonates with them the way it does with me.

Imagine my delight, when, on reading Mousical, I discovered a reference to the quote in the story. Various calamities have beset the mice in the tiny theatre below the human theatre, The Sovereign, and they are unsure if they can continue with their production. The director, Emil, speaks first, followed by the stage manager, Enoch.

“Emil was the first to speak. “Art must endure, of course. Even if we stand in the rubble, we should still perform.”

Enoch said, “It is the one thing that binds us together — the one thing that tells us who we are.”

Those are good words to live by, whether in the arts or in one’s life. Even if we stand in the rubble of whatever dream may come crashing down around us, whatever loss we sustain, we — and the show — must go on.


The musical production The Great American Mousical, with script by Hunter Bell, music by Zina Goldrich, lyrics by Marcy Heisler, scenic and costume design by Tony Walton, and directed by Julie Andrews, will be staged at the Norma Terris Theatre of Goodspeed Musicals, in Chester, Connecticut,  from November 8th to December 2nd. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 860.873.8668. For more information, including a seating plan for the Norma Terris Theatre, please click this link.

GIVEAWAY REMINDER: There will be a GIVEAWAY of three copies of the book The Great American Mousical. All comments on my Wednesday posts throughout October will be eligible for the draw, with the winners to be announced on November 7th. (Full disclosure, these are hardcover remainder copies. There is a tiny black mark on the lower page edge, which doesn’t affect the appearance or the readability of the books.)

COMING SOON: Next week, I will be featuring an interview with two of the people most closely associated with Mousical. Do be sure to come back for that!

10 thoughts on “What Do Katherine Anne Porter and The Great American Mousical Have in Common?”

  1. Thank you for introducing me to this! Julie Andrews’ book Mandy was one I read over and over as a girl. I re- read it a couple of years ago and it was still magical. I love Porter’s description of taking handfuls of chaos and giving shape.

    1. I loved “Mandy” too! I think you’d enjoy Mousical, as well.

      In the way you create your glass art, you are giving shape from bits of disparate matter all the time — I’m not surprised Porter’s words resonate with you. Thanks, Margaret!

  2. Good words to live by indeed, and on a completely other subject, I’m sure you saw that Julie Andrews and Emma Hamilton will be speaking at the NYC SCBWI conference in February… maybe you’ll want to come after all 🙂

  3. Love the quotes from the show. It gives me added conviction to keep on creating.

    I think they need to fly me in to view and review this show! (Wouldn’t THAT be great?!)


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