I’ve had the privilege to be a part of Triad Stage’s production of Man of La Mancha this spring.

If you don’t know the show, it’s about an anachronistically Inquisition-imprisoned Miguel de Cervantes who defends himself to a rag tag tribunal set up by his fellow prisoners by enacting the story of a country squire named Alonso Quijana who fancies himself a knight errant named Don Quixote.

Don Quixote’s deal is that he sees things that we cannot see: Where we see an inn, he sees a castle; a windmill is an ogre to be vanquished; and when he meets a kitchen scullion who has a side hustle in sex work named Aldonza, he recognizes her as the lady to whom he will devote his victories and call upon in defeat, and her name is Dulcinea.

To me, Aldonza is the point of the show; she is the one dynamic character in the musical; the way Quixote sees her changes her.

Near the end of the show, she says to Don Quixote, “…and you looked at me, and you called me by another name: Dulcinea.

Every night as I hear this line, something moves in my guts. “You called me by another name.”

It makes me think of how the names we are called shape us, the ways we are seen. The ways we think we are seen.

What names come up to you when you think of this?

And then it always makes me ask, “What names do we call ourselves?”

If Aldonza transformed into Dulcinea because a man everyone said was crazy insisted on seeing her as that, how might we transform if we choose to call ourselves by another name?

How might we play a role in transforming those in our sphere if we choose to call them by another name?

I know enough about quantum physics to know that I don’t know anything about quantum physics, but I do remember that those brilliant scientists found out that by the very act of watching, the observer affects the observed reality.

So let’s see what happens if we observe those names and change them where necessary.