Why Educate Our Kids? Part Four: Audience Behavior

13 06 2010

So today as Spunky started a new conversation about what it means for a child to be “well-educated” I noticed it afresh and thought I’d mention some of what it makes me wonder, about what’s being taught and learned and why to our kids out of school, not in.

The phone number is painted on the glass, too: want your child well-educated in mind, body and spirit all at the same time? Who needs School OR Church? Just call 8-WE-KICK. . .

Y’all know the way our kids are educated out of school and church. One big part of it is musical theatre:

Favorite Daughter at age 17 in her college honors history class, answered a bonus question for a perfect score on the final, that her professor couldn’t figure out how she knew, because it wasn’t in the text of the lecture notes: name all five of the members appointed to write the Declaration of Independence and the colonies each represented in the Congress. So he asked outright what her secret source was, and got a good laugh when she started singing, “But Mr. Adams” from the musical 1776.

See also There is Nothing Sexier Than a Baritone and “How can we learn about our present if we don’t educate people about what happened in our past?””

So when I saw commentary on Helen Thomas having tragically overstayed the audience’s support for her role on the public stage, it spoke to me about everything in America’s power of story:

Botchirng an exit cue in a stage production can result in dramatic disaster, says Sara Freeman, a professor of theater history at the University of Oregon. . . . staying onstage when you are supposed to exit is considered “very bad etiquette or an act of outright aggression or disrespect” in the theater world. . .”and upends planned narrative or visual effects. It distracts attention from what the focus is supposed to be in the story.”

Freeman says she has a million stories of actors who missed their entrance cues, “but missed exits are rarer because they usually have to be chosen. It’s far harder to not exit by accident.”

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth:

I believe we’re in an age where a view of humanity as dark and “herd-like” should not govern . . . I believe we must take the high road by simply telling people the truth about the products, services and issues we represent. That presupposes that we can in good conscience represent nondeceptive, truthful clients. . .

My own view is that manipulating the darker forces of human nature is inappropriate. . . . Here are my Ten Commandments . . .

1. All human beings are intelligent. . .
2. Tell the truth. . .
3. Appeal to people’s better instincts . . .
4. Understand that we are one human family on this planet . . .
5. Talk to people as you would want to be talked to yourself. . .
6. Represent companies, organizations, associations, governments, authors and celebrities who operate legitimately, in the best interests of the public interest.
7. Every human is entitled to basic human rights – the right to live without intolerance, persecution or control; the right to a decent living income; the right to be treated with respect; and the right to fulfill their dreams.
8. Encourage your clients to support in spirit and actuality, causes that uplift humanity. . .
9. Represent life-affirming companies that make good and healthy products, that provide services in the public interest, that are ethical and honest.
10. Life is precious. We live in one world, together. Respect yourself, your neighbors and all other humans. And respect other life forms on this planet.

. . . Let’s not let the human heart, or the human right for the whole truth, run behind. Is journalism performing its highest calling when it does not probe more deeply for the truth behind events? And what good is public relations if it promotes inauthenticity in a world that doesn’t work?

The exit scene self-serving manipulation of the public is long past, and America’s performance thoroughly spoiled. So. What are we going to do about it, with what hope of helping rather than worsening human reality here in Real America?

Throw rotten vegetables at all the players? Sit quietly in the dark and be polite until it’s over for all of us? Jump up on the stage and be part of the action or maybe pen your own play and see if you can get it financed? Just sneak out the back door, slink home and post another rant about the death of the theatre, from the comfort of your own pajamas and misplaced sense of personal power?

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5 responses

13 06 2010
NanceConfer

All human beings are intelligent?

13 06 2010
JJ

I think that’s like “there is intelligent life on earth — humans” 😉

14 06 2010
Why Educate Our Kids? Part Four, Act Two: Power of Story « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Educate Our Kids? Part Four, Act Two: Power of Story 14 06 2010 See Act One […]

24 06 2010
JJ

More young people literally needing theatre-inspired education:

. . . the event was intended to feel more like an audition than a traditional interview.

The hotel — part of a fast-growing, youth-oriented chain run by the people behind the W hotels — has a sassy attitude, said Aleks Truglio, the hotel’s sales and marketing director. It also has its own lingo, referring to its employees as “talent.”

. . .“I can teach you how to make a bed,” [the general manager] Mr. Fevre said. “I cannot teach you to smile and be friendly and take care of my guests.”

24 06 2010
JJ

About drama in real life, we can teach kids that if life is a movie, scenes are fleeting and progress rapidly to tell a story. Don’t get addicted to the drama itself (and avoid anyone who is.) Don’t typecast yourself and others in those few anguished and angry scenes, or keep flashing back to restir past drama (and avoid anyone who does.)

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