Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog


IMAGINARY FRIENDS: A PROFILE

IMAGINARY FRIENDS: A PROFILE

Joey Collins and Crystal Finn in Beasley's Christmas Party. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Hamilton Swift Junior’s imagination concocts an array of larger than life, but realistic characters upon his arrival to Beasley’s home. His fantasy world is revealed slowly during the course of the play, beginning with a dog and a few friends, and later acquiring a large family. A group of bears also make a temporary appearance in Beasley’s home.In the past, having imaginary friends were seen as a common practice of young children who had experienced great pain and loneliness. They were thought to treat loneliness, boredom, or another part of life that was lacking. A child will often envision an imaginary friend with superior skills to compensate for his or her own perceived weaknesses or flaws. Hamilton Swift Junior has a friend named Bill Hammersley, who is his age and “very big and strong; he has very rosy cheeks, and can do more in athletics than a whole college track team.” This makes sense because Hamilton Swift Jr. is a very sickly boy who looks up to someone who is very brawny and athletic, something he will never be. Another one of Hamilton’s friends, Mr. Corley Linbridge, is a very distinguished, retired mountain climber. He falls into the same sort of category as Bill Hammersley. Hamilton Swift Junior cannot do very much physically; he cannot even walk around, but has his friends to do that for him. The Hunchberg family stems from Hamilton’s loss of family after his parents passed away.

Today, imaginary friends are seen as a very important part of developing social skills. By giving kids extra time to play, they are given what they need to create their own fantasy worlds. This creative time is hugely beneficial for their brain development and academic achievement. Kids who talk to their imaginary friends tend to have a more advanced sentence structure and a more extensive vocabulary.

Children who have had time to use their imaginations tend to perform better in school. Imaginary friends are products of the limitless creativity of a curious child’s mind as he or she experiences the complicated world around them. Kids use this imagination to practice for the real life relationships they will have in the future. Utilizing an imaginary friend allows a child to take on different sides in conversation and begin to think abstractly. One day Hamilton has to discipline Simpledoria for chasing a cat. He demonstrates this example of authority to exercise his knowledge of right from wrong.

Joey Collins, Crystal Finn and Tony Ward in Beasley's Christmas Party. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Normally, parents are encouraged to acknowledge the imaginary friend. Saying hello and setting an extra place at the table are nice ways to support the child’s role playing. Beasley does an excellent job of fostering Hamilton’s imagination. Each day, he asks Hamilton, “Who’s with us today?” He pets Simpledoria, plays games with Bill Hammersley, and converses often with the Hunchberg family. He even speaks loudly for Aunt Cooley, who Hamilton says is a bit deaf. House guests also play their parts when visiting Beasley. Booth and Dowden always greet the imaginary characters and treat them as real people. At the end of the play, Booth, Dowden, Miss Apperthwaite, and a few others all find Beasley hosting a lavish Christmas party for Hamilton and his friends. He even makes a speech to the invisible guests and dances with them. Beasley’s efforts, although outlandish, were very thoughtful and loving because they made a lonely little boy feel special on the most cherished holiday of the year, Christmas.

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