Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dragon? What Dragon?

I told my boss how much I enjoyed Wicked, and she said that her son had been particularly impressed with the dragon. But I didn't see a dragon. I love dragons, so surely I would have noticed if one had been included in the play. I wondered if it was a difference in staging, but she assured me that her son had seen the show at the Orpheum here in Omaha, same as me. She also mentioned that the dragon had been mentioned in the newspaper article about the musical. Later, I checked the Omaha World-Herald, and sure enough, I found a picture. And while the rest of the Orpheum's stage looked familiar, the dragon most certainly did not.

I was mystified. How could I have missed a gigantic dragon whose wings spanned the entire stage? Either the prop had been damaged and had been removed sometime before the performance I attended, or I had simply overlooked it.

How is that possible?

Well, human perception is a strange thing. Watch this video of a perception experiment, then test yourself with a different experiment. (Or better yet, test someone who doesn't know what exactly they're being tested for.)

Change blindness! The human brain can not process all of the visual data the eyes receive, and so it filters based on attention. Whatever you are focusing your attention on is what you see, and you don't notice anything else.

Apparently, I was paying so much attention to the witches and the flying monkeys that I never saw the gargantuan dragon sprawled across the top of the set, even though it would have been roughly eye-level with where I was sitting.

But I felt better after I asked both of the people who attended the show with me, and learned that neither of them saw the dragon either. So that makes a case for the dragon simply not being there anymore. However, to be honest, I just can't be sure.


sectheatre said...

What night did you go? I went MOther's Day night and the dragon was there. :)

Anj said...

We went on May 21, so that would have been 11 days after the showing you went to. I still don't know if the dragon disappeared in those 11 days, or if my friends and I were just oblivious. To be honest, whenever the curtain was down, I was studying the map of Oz, and whenever the curtain was up, I was pretty focused on the actors. So the dragon could well have been right in front of me, and I never noticed. D'oh!