The Hero’s Journey

Welcome to the Leftovers rehearsal blog!

As a first post, let’s take a look at a bit of the work we have being doing via our Play Lab program with our playwright, Josh Wilder.  After our fall workshop, Josh decided to lean even deeper into Jalil and Kwamaine’s hero arc.  They are sent on a magical quest by the hand of the mysterious Man in White.  They must overcome a series of trials in order to return home for the better.

This post is all about the dramatic function of the monomyth or the hero’s journey!  Below is is a diagram that has the stages said journey.


At the start of the play, Jalil has just graduated high school without a set plan ahead of him.  He’s on the cusp of great change, but the question is: Where to?  The answer isn’t what one might guess…However, leaving his home is the only way he is able to make his first step into adulthood.   In Shakespeare’s Comic Rule, Edward Berry dives into the importance of leaving the familiar space.

“The various rites by means of which societies effect transitions in the life of an individual from one social identity to another [include] celebrations of crises in the life cycle.” “[All types include] an initial stage of separation, in which the individual is divorced from his familiar environment; a transitional stage, in which his old identity is destroyed and a new one created; and a final stage of incorporation, in which he is reintegrated into society in his new role.” – Edward Berry, 

In order for these identities to be destroyed and reborn again, Jalil and Kwamaine must enter The Belly of the Whale, which brings them into the Initiation portion of the cycle.   Whilst “in the whale” our hero become willing to transform, which leads them to the road of trials. Trials are exactly what Jalil and Kwamaine find in their time away.  A series of tests forces them to confront their previous selves’ faults and pushes them to develop past their flaws.

During this period of trails, the hero reaches Atonement with the Father.  All previous points of the cycle have pushed the hero to this point.  This father figure holds power over the hero to a life or death extremity.  The hero must confront a father figure in order to see himself truly for the first time.  In Jalil’s case, his father, Chris,  is a deadbeat dad who stumbles in and out of his lives.  The pain of Chris’ failures haunts Jalil and stops him from being able to see the full picture of his life.  Looking this pain in the face  and recognizing his father’s humanity is crippling, but the necessary step to transforming into Jalil’s full self.

The hero might not realize that they cannot return home without the Rescue from Without.  Heroes need powerful allies to bring them home in the final stages.  The two brothers are blessed with these allies, but they might not be as supernatural as the boys would’ve guessed.

These are ideas are cooking with Josh and the dramaturgs on this production.  As we head into our April workshop, we will see how the hero’s journey reveals itself further.

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