Why The Light Fantastic?

We take our name, The Light Fantastic, from a phrase that shows up in our first production, The Glass Menagerie (as you may know, to “trip the light fantastic” means to dance).  We were drawn to the name by its evocation of lightness and imagination, two values we hold dear.  We perform with all the lights on, we travel lightly, and we endeavor to work with a light touch, respecting our audiences’ intelligence and trusting that the fantastic realm of their imaginations will help us bring productions to life.

This peculiar phrase also, though, has a particular resonance for a New York City touring company like ours.  Tennessee Williams likely heard the phrase from a popular song called “The Sidewalks of New York,” which many once considered a theme song for New York:

East Side, West Side, all around the town,                    The tots sang “ring-a-rosie,”                                       “London Bridge is falling down;”                                           Boys and girls together,                                                     Me and Mamie O’Rourke,                Tripped the light fantastic                           On the sidewalks of New York.

FINALLY, FOR ETYMOLOGICAL FANS...

 

…we were also drawn to the phrase by its earliest origins in a poem by John Milton called “L’Allegro,” an ode to merriment he wrote as a companion piece to his ode to melancholy, “Il Penseroso” (they function together not unlike the iconic theater masks).  The relevant passage:

Come, and trip it as ye go
On the light fantastick toe,
And in thy right hand lead with thee,
The Mountain Nymph, sweet Liberty;
And if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crue
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free.