© Pierre Chiha Photography
There’s No Place Like
There’s something magical about Concord, Massachusetts. A persistent and insistent energy over the course of centuries has attracted artists, innovators, writers, revolutionaries, philosophers, abolitionists, social justice warriors, scholars, and a whole host of leaders and creative disrupters. They live among us today, and I had the great honor to sit down with two artists - Gregory Maguire and Andy Newman – in their Concord home to learn about their creative journey, and also about the very special place they created to raise their three adopted children.
The Power of Story
Gregory Maguire was drawn to the power of stories to heal and teach from a very young age. His mother died from complications following childbirth, and his grieving father could not care for newborn Gregory or his three other children. Gregory spent a good portion of his toddler years at an orphanage before being reunited with his (then remarried) father and his siblings (who had been sent to live with other relatives). The family and their new 8
| Winter 2019
BY JENNIFER C. SCHÜNEMANN
step-mother would go on to welcome three more children, but that sense of loss and guilt would never leave Gregory. “I grew up with such a sense of moral debt and grief over depriving my father of his first wife – and of depriving my older siblings of their mother,” he shared. “Those classic folk tales of the young son of a dead mother, going out into the world and doing good those were object lessons for me. It wasn’t just distracting or amusing – they were case studies for survival. I believe this is what first drew me to fairy tales.” Life for Gregory evolved around the three pillars of school, church, and the town library. Books became trusted friends. “I dove into children’s stories – and on the other side of these fantastic adventures, I would come back larger and more experienced,” he said. “My mental health would emerge restored, and I felt stronger and better able to navigate the world.” Television was rarely permitted in the household of nine, but one exception was the annual ritual of watching The Wizard of Oz.
“We all knew the story inside and out – but imagination runs wild with found objects. And really, all stories are found objects for children,” Gregory shared. “I would routinely direct reenactments, while changing the roles or creating plot twists around characters and asking my siblings and friends to act out new versions of the story.” He saw in the character of the Wizard of Oz, the embodiment of a deceptive authority figure sending innocent children off to do his dirty work. “The lying and cowardice of the Wizard – sending Dorothy out to the West to assassinate the witch - struck me as so wrong,” said Maguire. “It was just like what the government was doing during the Vietnam War. From first grade into college, I grew up frightened of war and suspicious of the authorities who were drafting children to go off to die. I deeply cared about right and wrong from a very young age. It bothered me that the Wizard placed Dorothy and her friends in such danger – and that they forgave him so readily. I realized early on that the concepts of good and evil may not be as