Monday, April 8, 2013

Not Tamed: A Lesson in Walking Out of the Theater

Hey all, while we're out of town for Easter Break, I'm cleaning out my drafts folder.  So if this sounds like it was written a while ago, it probably was.  I'll still be checking comments, so feel free to have an opinion.  And a very happy Easter to you and yours!

Last week the kids and I, along with two other families got to do something I have never done before . . .   WALK OUT IN PROTEST! 

A local university hosts a series of lectures, on mostly science topics, for classes of traditional school kids and homeschoolers like us.

This month's installment was different, a "guided" production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.  I was familiar with the play generally but not specifically.  So, like any good homeschool Mom, I printed out the synopsis from wikipedia as the kids were getting in the car and we read it aloud on the way.




In his opening remarks one of the actors informed us all that in their production, the part of Lucencio would be played by a woman and become the character Lucentia.  Highschool kids laughed.  I didn't get it.

The play started, they had made some clever staging decisions, the actors were funny, the kids were enjoying it.  And I'm just getting this nagging feeling . . . Lucentio . . . Lucentio, who was he again?

Then, just as Lucentia starts into a soliloquy it hits me.  Lucentio is the one who elopes with the lovely and charming younger sister!




And while I did then, and still do, find it totally outrageous that a theater company would take such license with Shakespeare, much less purposefully present it to schoolchildren, I was also pretty excited to be able to take my kids and walk out.  However small and unimportant our particular circumstances, we were able to take a stand for something.  Our whole group did, and found that the other homeschool group in attendance had caught the signs earlier and beat us to the lobby.

I didn't think it was appropriate to go into too much detail with the kids.  They were comfortable with just knowing that it turned out that the play wasn't appropriate for kids.  But they did learn the lesson that Tierneys will NOT be tamed by a wayward theater group.  




It's still unclear to me how we could have prevented this situation.  I certainly don't blame the organizer of our homeschool group field trip.  The flier said we'd see Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, she was familiar with that play and that play would have been of interest to our group.  The university event series organizer has told us via email that this was a last minute substitution by the theater company.  Per the Theater company's website, that's not the case.  But there is no indication on the website of any particular agenda on the part of the company. 

But, once we got there, it was clear that there WAS an agenda on the part of this theater company and so we left.  EVEN THOUGH we had paid for the tickets (we eventually got a refund, but perhaps we wouldn't have).  EVEN THOUGH we had driven quite a ways to get there.  EVEN THOUGH it might open us up to criticism to walk out.  EVEN THOUGH anything. 

And once again I was awfully grateful to be a homeschooler, because all those classes full of kids in the auditorium with us (some of whom were in Christian school uniforms) . . . just stayed put, and I'll bet that most of their parents still don't know what their kids were exposed to in the name of Shakespeare.



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3 comments:

  1. I was a theater major at a Catholic university years ago and I can tell you, yes, there most definitely an agenda with most of theater companies out there. Children's theater has always been more subtle... so subtle that the agenda could easily fly over the heads of most of the children in the audience. But if you were at a production where they knew high schoolers were, then they don't really consider that "children's theater". Even though you and I still consider our high school age kiddos "children", in the world today, high schoolers are supposed to be figuring out "what they really think" and "just how wrong their parents are about everything".

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  2. that is outrageous! totally a justified protest, and a valuable (and exciting!) lesson for your kids. they got to learn about Shakespeare AND about taking a stand. it is a fruitful discussion as to how much wiggle room one should take in the name of "art".

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  3. Are you kidding me? Argh. Feeling very bad for those other kids, like you mentioned.

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