Tag Archives: Kids

Kids. Theatre. Art.

14 Mar

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Stumbled on a Tumblr last night, linking to others that, all-collected, formed most of a young cast and their experiences of putting on this show.

…Totally fascinating…reading their processes in raw-thought form, thrown out there with zero editing of  their emotions and frustrations as they fought to balance out school schedules, homework, dating, rehearsals, finals and wrapping their heads around the history of the piece.

Written in 2006, these back-and-forth tagged Tumblrs and blogs are free-formed by High School students, who by now have most likely graduated College and gotten married, and started having children of their own.  Which is kinda mind-blowing, even not having known the kids personally…only because of the knowledge that they have this forever-record of that point in their lives, written down (much like Anne), which others can read and experience, further mirroring the book and show itself.

Really intriguing thoughts, actually. 

…Some in simple questioned innocents, some with down-and-dirty sleeves-rolled-up research, some likening their own personal experiences to Anne and their own characters…and some just excited by the whole process.

The thing that really got to me though, was the point…totally individual to each…when they “got it.”  The point where the full weight of what the show and this girl’s experiences were all about, actually sunk into them…and how each of them dealt with it.

Personal. Raw. Specific.

…These kids, through ART, were given a new way to access and view something from history that they already knew about since middle-school.  That restriction of: “this is a book about a teenage girl, in Amsterdam, in WWII,” was suddenly (and in some cases emotionally violently) altered for them once the process of physical “empathy” was put into place.

To read about a girl from the far-past, in a place they could not recognize, and had no tangible relateable association with at first glance…had limited a lot of them at the book’s first reading. Some were embarrassed by it’s pubescent topics, some shut off by the distant time frame in which it was written, some by the country they didn’t recognize…or the Politics they couldn’t understand…while some did actually take it personally and to heart. But the range there was wide.

…Through the process of ownership in their roles, though…you can actually SEE that begin to change…and the kids changing with it.

What they start out writing about in an off-hand remarks, early in the rehearsal process, begins to change to a kind of hungry obsession over time. They begin pulling out quotes from the script, and matching it to the diary…they write mini-bios, and suck up European political history like sponges. They become in awe of the magnitude in the numbers…which are no longer just “numbers,” but for the first time begin to represent actual “people” to them, now that they are actually portraying one of them…each with lives and families and homes and dreams of their own. They begin to question, and get angry, and become activists for a cause which now has become as real to them as anything they may have to deal with in their current day-to-day lives. They build genuine affection for their “characters”…defending their deeds in posts, and against Anne’s words…and explaining WHY they think and act and say the things they do.

…They become totally engrossed, as the posts move along…building not only on their own, but commenting on one another’s in debate, and agreement, and camaraderie.

And it is fucking FANTASTIC.

You see: THIS is what “Art” does.

THIS is why it is so essential, and why it’s disappearance from our Schools is so completely devastating.

“Art” is not just a “hobby.” “Art” isn’t an “extracurricular activity.” “Art” is “Humanity.” Straight-up. It is our one point of access to all that it is (and ever was) to be human. And without it, we are sorely damaging our future potential…and in severe danger of repeating our greatest mistakes.

And HERE is a prime example.

…Written by school children, grown now into adults, who BECAUSE of “art” experienced something so palpable that “History” became alive to them, “Politics” became important, “Numbers” meant more than mere addition and subtraction, the “Written Word” jumped off the pages at them, and “Science” in the research, reason and attempt to understand why and what it all meant, became totally essential to them.

…And yet, with all of that put together, it STILL could not hold the realization of the emotional strength and repercussions that actual “embodiment” had on each of them. The power of empathy…of PUTTING YOURSELF into another’s place…of FEELING the fear, and hunger, and pain, and sadness…of MAKING IT PERSONAL…it changed them, not just as “children” or “students,” but as HUMAN BEINGS.

…Once taught empathy, education, the difference between right and wrong…passion for history and learning…you can’t un-teach it. You can try, attempt to mind-wash and assault the brain all you like. But if given a good, strong, root to grow…early on…I don’t believe there is anything that can break that. Or the spirit it infuses, like Anne’s, to fight for your right to it.

“There are no walls, there are no bolts, no locks that anyone can put on your mind.”

…It was something Mr. Frank once told Anne, and something she often went back to as a form of solace, a comfort, an outlet…a form of expression.

…Because any form of educated obsession, release, curiosity, excitement, empathy…is a kind of art.

Because SHE was encouraged to release herself in it, we have her diary today. Because those kids were encouraged to release themselves in it, their lives were changed. The same way that mine constantly is. And Meryl Streep. And Picasso’s was. And Steven Spielberg. And Maria Callas. And Leonard da Vinci, and Stephen King, and Gertrude Stein, and Albert Einstein, Billie Jean King, and Stephen Hawking.

…So really, what I’m saying is: people learn and become inspired in so many different ways…going on to inspire and educate others, likewise. I’d like to assume you’d want every opportunity you can grasp onto, to make sure your kids get every option to become the best that they can be…as people and parents of their own children someday.

If you already practice an art of your own, there’s no need to tell you this, but if not: Listen up. I promise…it isn’t just a flippant accessory to life. It is a necessity. It’s brought us our greatest humanitarians, and thinkers, and doers we have ever produced as a human race. It breeds intelligence. It fosters hope. It counters depression, and fear, and anger.

It belongs in our schools.

…If only, to dust off the tired words in old textbook pages, and make all the other academics and political concepts and histories and numbers and sciences more real to the people who will be running this planet some day.

Think about it.

~D

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Suspicious Calendars

20 Dec

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An inauspicious day of empty happenings, which will be a damn shame if it turns out to be the last one on this planet.

…Australia and Europe are still here though, so it gives me some hope.

Up until two A.M. doing lesson plans with Marty for a director-sanctioned boot camp we will be teaching the girls in the show, this Saturday before the run. 

(How very “Method” of us.) 

…I’ll be taking History, Women of the Period and General Ed.  We will tag-team in physical warm-ups, confidence building games, and bonding exercises, then Marty will take over for Deportment and Movement.  We have a slug of teenagers wearing Uggs with no possible reason to understand how to sit or walk properly within the period, so this we will teach to them.  Directly followed by our first full run of the show for the designers…at which time they will see (for the first time) what a full snot-fest of hysterics we can be.

…The idea is to get them to like and trust us before that happens, otherwise we are just fucking doomed.

…Course, we could be doomed at any point tomorrow, as well. 

I feel it was rather lazy (and sloppy) of the Mayans not to be more specific with this whole Apocalypse thing.  I mean, I don’t even know if I should plan for lunch and dinner or what?

…Also I’ve been reading, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” since Monday…basically for ironic purposes, just in case.

…And I have to say, it WAS nice to get those three separate  FB invites to “The End Of The World.”

As if I would miss it?

Guess we’ll find out.

See you on the flip side.

…Or not.

…But prob’ly, yeah.

~D

Gamer Rage

31 Aug

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It’s been a really long time since I did the “gamer” thing.  Back in the days of the old arcade Street Fighter and Nintendo…I was a winner…but now with all the 360 degree viewpoint and movement ability…getting me just to stay upright and not walk into walls is damn near impossible.  I’ve been away too long.  My brain isn’t equipped for that level of “awesome.”

…The BFF’s Fella knows this, however, and decided to go searching for something I could relate to.  And he found it. 

Wednesday night, for like two hours as The BFF made a chocolate souffle, The Fella and I beat the living crap out of each other…before finally devising a tag-team scenario in order to kill all the main Bosses and win the game. 

The strategy went like this: PUSH THE FUCKING BUTTONS AS HARD AS YOU CAN WHILE SCREAMING OBSCENITIES AT THE SCREEN LIKE A TOURETTES VICTIM.  Then, after you die, pass it to the other guy who will do much the same.  Until you win.  The end.

…I admit, it wasn’t the most elegantly plotted out plan of attack but we did what we could. And I learned some stuff while I was at it.

1) I should never own a game consul. They are too much fun.

2) Threatening your opponent and flinging an escalation of insults at them in psychological warfare, does in fact pay off.

3) Souffles don’t like yelling.

4) It is possible to hate a programmed Avatar more than Satan, and feel it’s perfectly reasonable to do so.

5) No one has actually ever won all the Bosses before, they just tell you they do. It’s a totally impossible feat and everyone knows it. Until you manage it. Then it’s absolutely real.

…Ultimately, video games are like a slip-stream of “uh-oh” for any person who has ever had any “anger management issues.” The frustration levels can get totally off the charts. At almost any moment you can be seen screaming at the television, pitching controllers across the room, and insisting that, “this sunofabitch is goin’ down!” Sure, you can “try” to add a bit of Patton-like reasoning to the plan of attack at first. You can set a course, and learn all the combos and pre-plan the journey. But eventually that all falls away to reveal a ten year old kid, hopped up on adrenalin, whose recently learned how to string all the cuss words they know into one long sentence.

…Like when Ralphy finally flips his shit in “A Christmas Story.”

“Rassuh-fraggin-frasta-massuh-fragga!” The ten year old “you” will say. (Only, not the PG version.)

…The moments are terrifying with intensity, sweat starts pourin’…and you become a virtual machine of gamer rage. It totally consumes you in no time at all. But, if you are savvy enough to take side view of it all, (once the night has ended), the entire thing makes total complete sense.

Just take a second and think about your day, for instance.

…That jerk upstairs who flashes you every morning with cold water because of how they time their shower, right in the middle of yours. The one asshole customer that nothing could appease, the fact the office is out of coffee again, the container loads are late, you banged your funny bone and the traffic home was total crap. Think about that wad of bills you just lifted from the mailbox, and the fact that your trash can is full but you’ve just remembered you’re all outta bags. And maybe you’ve gained a pound or two on total accident. Let all that junk swim around you in a hazy kind of cloud, that you can’t fight no matter how much you try, because it has no corporal form.

…Now lets pretend the power is suddenly granted you to assign all that irritation and anger toward something else. Something whose entire existence is in order to allow you to reclaim even one piece of your dignity back again. Something that’ll satisfy that craving to, “make the bastards pay!”…but with significantly less jail time.

…Go ahead. Put a controller in your hand. Push that little switch. Go through the next fifteen minutes of annoying selection and customization programming (I miss the days of just “off” and “on.”) Then open a Coke, turn down the volume, and pop on a super mix of kick-your-ass power tunes instead. Like this. Then GO AT IT! I DEFY you not to glory in the world of paybacks with zero consequence! You have EARNED this today!

Show all those bastards who is BOSS!

…Kill everything! And send those Alien’s packin’!

You are a WINNER!

A WINNER, I tell you!

…NO ONE is gooder than you! You just proved it! To God and everyone!

And just like that, it’s a beautiful world again.

~D

This One Time?

17 Aug

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When I was a kid I had this friend? Every time she talked? Even in a declarative sentence? She sounded like she was always asking a question?

…It was a really unique quirk that I didn’t fully grasp at the time? I mean, I knew there was something strange about her vocal pattern? Only I didn’t know what the hell a vocal pattern was? So couldn’t directly put my finger on it?

All I knew was: I always felt that she was really really interested in anything and everything I ever said? It was like my personal opinion on any subject was just the gold standard of fact? But then sometimes? It got a little confusing too? On account of she never seemed to be quite solid on what her own preferences and ideas were?

…For example?

(While building a Kool-Aid stand.)

Me: “This’ll be great! We’ll be gillionairs prob’ly, by tomorrow! How much should we charge per-the-glass?”

She: “Maybe we could charge fifty cents? Or maybe not? Maybe three for a dollar?”

Me: “Like an ‘on sale’ kinda deal?”

She: “Yeah? Or maybe different sizes?”

Me: “Wait, different sizes for a dollar or different sizes on sale?”

She: “Yeah? Or maybe, like, a special? For repeat customers? Or lemonade too so we have two kinds of flavors?”

Me: “Well, which one of those-all do you wanna do?”

She: “I dunno? Cuz sometimes one sounds good? And then the other? But then some people don’t like lemons that much? So maybe we should just stick to Kool-Aid? But then we can do the different sizes still? Or maybe not?”

Me: “So…which one do you vote for, then?”

She: “…And then the cups too? They cost money? So maybe we should put that in the price with it all? I dunno? That’s what I think?”

…It could sometimes be confusing?

She wasn’t, in the end, a “long-term” buddy? In fact I only remember her really from that one summer? But she did make a lasting impression on me, with a kind of constant invitation to offer my opinion freely? About everything? Whether it had anything to do with me or not? And sometimes? I catch myself falling into this same trap? The kind where I think I hear a person asking my opinion? In this open-ended kind of way? Only turns out, they’re not? It has nothing to do with me? And I am just being a gigantic self-opinionated asshole by insinuating that it does? And my only defense really is that…

…This one time?

…I knew a girl once, who always sounded really interested in what I thought about things? Her voice always went up in the end like a question? Even when she was making a declarative sentence? And I think I caught a strange disease from her? Called self-inserted-opinion-justification-in-order-to-clarify-where-you-don’t-even-fucking-belong-itus? I actually know a lot of people who have it?

…That girl? She must have really got around and stuff?

I mean, obviously?

…Cuz you knew her too, right…?

~D

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