Thursday, July 14, 2011

Let the Music Play

There's been some discussion surrounding the performance of two plays on the library lawn next week though not the kind of discussion the organizers of the play had hoped to inspire.
The discussion is over whether or not the plays are suitable to be performed outside in a public space where people passing by, especially families with children, might be disturbed by the intensity of the drama.
I have never seen the plays in question and it sounds as if there are other issues surrounding them than just their appropriateness for children who might be in the vicinity; but as to that one objection I'd like to relate the following observations from experience as my oldest boys, ages 8 and 6, have seen a fair amount of live theater.
Live theater, though it may be intense with its action happening right before one's eyes, is by the same token made less scary because the action is happening right before one's eyes. No matter who is rumbling (West Side Story), changing into an evil alter ego (Jekyll and Hyde), committing suicide (Carousel) or cutting the throats of his customers (Sweeny Todd), my children are well aware that the action isn't real and that the actors, even the recently deceased ones, will all take the stage for a bow when the show's over.
Contrast this to television viewing where sometimes the action is real (the news, reality shows) and sometimes it isn't (movies, dramas, sitcoms). It's much harder in these situations for children to discern what's real from what's not and there's no curtain call at the end to help them sort it out.
This is the beauty of live theater. It's big and thought provoking and sometimes in your face, but it's not usually so horrific that you have to hide behind your playbill or shield your kids from it.
As for the screaming. Kids are natural dramatists anyway. People are screaming in my house all the time.
If there's screaming at my house it means that either someone's wife accidentally gave them a poisoned robe - or someone dropped a cookie on the floor.

song: Let the Music Play • artist: Shamur

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