What Are We Teaching These Kids?

Tickets for the Scottish play: "There will be blood..."
Tickets for the Scottish play: “There will be blood…”

I recently had the great honor of directing a play at Fairhaven. Many know that theatre is very near and dear to my heart. I formally taught it in the public schools for many years. Throughout my time there, I was constantly battling budget cuts, focus on core subjects, emphasis on the sports program…one gets the idea. I saw myself as a champion of the arts (theatre in particular). It seems to me that one could learn just about anything one would need in life by just putting on a play.

Time management skills are a first big skill that comes to mind. I hand out a schedule early (before auditions) in the process and ask the students to work their lives around it. It is a thrill to be in a place where students want to do theatre and can commit as much of their time as they wish to the endeavor. It also proves a challenge in that, here at Fairhaven, there seems to be so many ways students can spend their days:  it’s  a capricious situation.

Commitment: a show just won’t be as successful if everyone isn’t dedicated to the project. The cast of this production, unfortunately, had a run-in with illness. In production week, the week leading up to performance, we were missing three of our leads. I had many conversations with worried actors and parents and discussions about postponing the show. In those conversations and at Theatre Corp (the decision-making body), I whipped out the old “the show must go on” adage which prompted the quote that I’ve used as the title of this piece.

Yes, we were down some very important actors. Yes, the show would not be as it had been dreamed or rehearsed. Yes, I had made a commitment to the rest of the 18 cast and crew members and community to have a show on the days I said I would. Please understand, it was never my intention to question parents as to how to convalesce their children. I am not a “what price glory?” (sorry, another cliche) sort of person. I am also not about questioning the commitment of the ill actors. I know they were deeply invested in the play, and it was a huge disappointment for the one actor who was not  able to perform. Perhaps Malcolm said it best in Act IV: “I would the friends we missed were safe arrived.”

However, we honored everyone else’s time, energy, and commitment. What are we teaching these kids? That everyone worked hard, and that sometimes, the show does have to go on.

Bravo actors, crew, and audience. It was a play well done.

Ruth Yamamoto

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