“The story to what?” you may ask . . .
Eden in Babylon is more than just a catch phrase associated with my creative endeavors. It is also the name of a new piece of musical theatre that I am currently in the process of creating. The musical Eden in Babylon focuses on a hypothetical movement to mobilize a unified contingent of intelligent young people who prefer to sleep outdoors. For many, this preference is connected to a reverence for Nature; for others, to a penchant for pushing the human body past its limits; for still others, to an addiction to negative ions that are found in the air. Inspiration for this project came from numerous interviews with people who identify as members of the Rainbow Family (sometimes called “Warriors of the Rainbow” or the “Rainbow Family of Living Light.”) Since many of these are young people in their twenties and early thirties, I got the idea to create a Chorus line of “Rainbow Kids” called the Children of the Universe, after whom my song, Children of the Universe, is named.
This dovetailed nicely with my interest in cult formation and the psychological make-up of cult leaders. (I developed this in my earlier piece, The Burden of Eden.) The Children of the Universe (or “Kids” for short) needed a charismatic leader, and they found one in Winston Greene.
As the show begins, Winston breaks out of a forty day period of abstinence from all external influences. As he bursts into view to announce his Enlightenment, he instead finds himself being hauled off to a psychiatric facility. It is there that he meets the Kids, who largely come from broken homes in an underprivileged class, and most of whom are living on the streets or “camping out” on the outskirts of his city. In a manner typifying Buddha, who hailed from royalty and did not truly begin his spiritual journey until he first encountered the suffering of poverty, Winston is moved to join the Kids in their minimalistic lifestyle. It is then that his worldview begins to broaden, as the elements of outdoor living are incorporated into his spiritual vision.
Together with Winston, the entourage of thirteen rugged adventurers manage to escape the confines of the official facilities where they have hitherto been confined. They begin to groove on the liberties of the outdoor experience, while at the same time taking pot shots at the people of Winston’s upper-class birth community. Winston comes to be known as a modern day Robin Hood of sorts, thus a threat to the Powers that Be. But the Kids, in their zeal, take their antics a bit too far, causing Winston to have to schmooze with the authorities, much to his embarrassment and chagrin. As the tactics of the Kids become increasingly violent, the blame is increasingly pointed at Winston. In the end, he makes the supreme sacrifice for the sins of his followers. In so doing, he typifies Christ.
The essential purpose of this musical is to depict classism in America in its most sordid form. The “class” of people portrayed in Eden in Babylon are not even a legally recognized class. They are unprotected, unrecognized, and practically abandoned. They are the lepers of today’s society. We care about women’s rights and gay rights and issues relevant to age, race, and culture. But how much do we really care about the estimated one-tenth of the U.S. population who are forced to sleep outdoors and endure all the indignities that such an awful set of circumstances entails? How much do we really care about the Homeless People of the United States of America?
These are the questions I ask in this play. At the time of this writing, the script to this musical is undergoing its third revision, though the score is essentially complete. The musical is set in modern-day America, takes place in two acts, and is approximately two hours and fifteen minutes long, with intermission.
Eden in Babylon
February 17, 2017