Thursday, September 11, 2008

there's a reason why this isn't a children's theater show, folks

       Maybe it isn't the very best idea to sell 2100 seats of a 3000 seat theater that is currently hosting A Chorus Line to students.  Not graduate students, not college students, not even high school students--no, elementary and middle school students.  You know, in the history of good ideas, maybe that one isn't on the top. Or near the top. Or on the list.  

        But perhaps I am being too harsh.  Perhaps it isn't such a big deal that this pulitzer prize winning script--something that deals with mature subjects and yes, finds the humor in them, but in a smart way, a thinking way--was brought down to scale; a scale that marginalizes what it means to talk about being a homosexual, making it into some sort of cartoon that is laughed at because that is what we do when either we don't understand something (and I am thinking that a lot of the kids fell into this category), or we do and it makes us feel uncomfortable.   

     I can remember when, as a first grader, my teacher Mrs. Smith read us a book called Suzie's Babies.  I still remember her attempt to somberly tell us about the technical terms of the reproductive organs of these hamsters (Suzie was a hamster, in case you didn't realize or in case you care. Oh, and just so we're clear, hamsters and humans share technical terms of reproductive organs).  Sure, we had heard these words before, but only in secret, from our parents, and had been warned again and again not to mention them in public places and certainly not ever around grandparents.  Hearing those private and adult words like that, read from the head of the class by Mrs. Smith who handed out fudge to us on a weekly basis, sent a good amount of us into gales of laughter, myself included.  We got in trouble, but I don't think we should have.  I think that a first grader didn't need to be reminded of those words then and there in front of all our peers and I think our laughter was much more natural than Mrs. Smith reading the book aloud to us in the first place.  I guess my point is that the kids' reaction to our show was only normal, all things considered; but I do wonder if it was smart of the parents or teachers of the kids to subject them to such adult content.  I am just saying.   

   Also, there is a certain amount of maturity that is necessary to be able to process some of the themes in my show, and most elementary students--nee, all--do not yet possess it.  There is a  certain amount of growing up that is necessary before you can see something on stage and realize that it isn't something you should go out and emulate...And elementary students--well, you get my point.  

   And here is the kicker: at the climax of the show, when we are walking back up to "the line," to find out who gets the job, there is a slow underscoring of the song "One." What do these students decide to do?  A slow, off-beat clap to the music.  Suddenly, an audience that is not supposed to even be at this audition in the first place is not just there, but is present in an awful surround sound, fighting with the orchestra and our own attempt at theater and dominating the scene.  Oh, those claps were terrible, just terrible.  And I will never forget them.

  So, I would say to probably leave your kids at home for this show, as a general rule.  But if you absolutely insist on bringing your young kid that you are deluded into thinking is mature enough to handle it, then please, try not to bring 2100 of his friends.  That's all I ask.  


semi anonymous said...

Yuck. WTH is wrong with adults? Don't they ever read reviews? I won't even rent a freaking MOVIE before I bring it in the house to my children without reading a description first. And I watch what they read too. I do let them watch an awful lot of stuff that other parents probably think is way too liberal of me, but they are watching it in the comfort and safety of their home surrounded by their family (including parents sitting right next to them who can explain things). I have even started movies and shut them off when it became apparent that they were not appropriate. I wouldn't even RENT ACL the movie, much less take them to the live show. It isn't right for them and it's very disrespectful to the performers. Though I sure would love to see you in it myself!!

jason said...

Sounds a bit like a fiasco. Who would have thought this was a good idea??!

Tiffany said...

Jess, Remember that I chaperoned my sister's high school group to New york for this show. The boys were cracking up at some of the parts. I never realized how distracting this could be for you on stage, live. As an audience member at the time, their laughter was distracting to me but I also felt awkward for them.
I so agree with semi anonymous..."WTH is wrong with adults?" The school set this up and the parents agreed to send their children.
Don't even get me started on the inappropriate movies we watched on the way to New York and back home. WTH!
Before anyone says, "Hey you were a part of it." True. My sister rarely asks me to be involved in her 16yr. old life so I jumped at the chance. Believe me, she knows where I stand and this may keep me from getting invited next time.

Husband said...

I saw Damn Yankees in 5th grade on Broadway. The title made me snicker. Heh.

Karenkool said...

Hahaha--loved this post. Sometimes we just forget th adult content of something we saw years ago, until we're there in the midst of it.

The off-beat clapping fighting together with the acoustics against te orchestra and stage performers just cracked me up. I HATE it when that happens.

Hope you are enjoying your tour.

Michele said...

Jess, how frustrating! It would be bad enough to have a few of those in the audience, but a whole audience full...I'm sorry that all of you had to go through that and I hope it never happens again!

kathiek said...

I completely agree, it is totally inappropriate to take kids to see ACL. I can't tell you how many times I get kids in my class who tell me about the TV shows and movies that they watch at home. I have had kids tell me they watch "Cops", and "Friday the 13th" movies! Keep in mind these are 4 and 5 year old kids! I tell them those shows are not for kids, that I do not even watch them, whereupon they tell me their mommy and daddy let them watch these shows.

When I was in school (I do think I was in high school at the time, not middle school) we went on a field trip to New York and saw the play, "Chicago". At the time, I remember I enjoyed it (and, as an adult, I enjoyed the movie when it came out), but that doesn't mean it was appropriate. I would not have let Nathan see it when he was in school.

jason said...

I had Suzie's Babies read to me too, but not until 4th Grade!!! And it all came as a compete shock to me. I remember I was holding my girlfriend Karen Osborn's hand while Mrs Hahn read it to us and as soon as they mentioned the P-word and the V-word we wordlessly unclasped and moved away from each other. I spend the rest of the day thinking, "Their parents did that!!!???"

Jessica Latshaw said...

What is up with Wilmington Christian School having teachers read students Suzie's Babies??!?! And I was only in 1st grade when I had to endure it--what is that, like 6?!?!?

Yeah, it was a shocker for me, too, which is why I laughed!!!

And a lot of us joked around and laughed about the awful slow clap today--so at least it's a good story! But honestly, when it was happening, most of us just glared out at those students, shooting daggers at them with our eyes! I felt like I was in Waiting for Guffman, or something!