If you ever played telephone as a kid – the game where you all sat in a circle and one person whispered something in someone’s ear and then it went around the room until it was given back to the person who started it – you know how a story can change. The difference between myth and legend in many cases carries the same opportunity to change with time.
There are two sayings I like: “History is lies agreed upon” or “History goes to the victors” because they are very truthful statements. When movies come out that says it is “Based on a true story” or they take one view point of history and proclaim it as gospel, the history can be changed in the minds of the public watching it. Shared with others as fact.
That’s where Legend and myth can become blurred. Let’s say that a movie used some poetic license to tell the story. They lied to make the story better, or amalgamated a few people into one character to move the story along. That perpetuates a myth that the events occurred that way. They did not. They could have happened similar to that, but never exactly like that – thus myth.
Legends can be created the same way. John Henry working his sledge against the powerful steam tractor made him a legend. But how accurate is the reality of the contest? We will never know.
We talk a lot about the idea of a Legend in the play and for good reason. To become a Legend means doing things bigger than life – or having a story written that makes you look like you are.