CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
2 March 2005
For those who don't recognize this, it's lyrics to a song from the 1960 musical, Bye Bye, Birdie. The song is more than 40 years old, but the gulf that separates parents and kids is one that is ongoing.
I have been thinking about this today because my next feature story for The Davis Enterprise is a story about an original show that some kids from the high school are writing, which will be presented in a couple of weeks.
A good friend of Paul's, Carlos Mendoza, who has been a working singer/dancer/actor in San Diego ever since he graduated from college, has returned to his home town to help drama teacher Gwyneth Bruch get the play put together and to do some choreography. He says that it's not a "musical" per say, but more like a play with music (kind of like The Last Session).
The kids were originally supposed to do Oklahoma. That's the show the school decided would be good for a bunch of high school kids to put on. But the kids found it boring and at the same time they all have this burning need to have their concerns listened to, concerns they don't feel the adults in their lives are hearing.
Carlos points out that kids today are dealing with more than he (and our kids) had to deal with when they were in high school. For starters, most of the kids come from families where both parents work, and so school becomes their life and often the only direction they get is from teachers.
They are dealing with grown up problems--drugs, suicide, and sex, to name a few. Carlos told the sad story of a girl who gives boys blow jobs because she thinks it will make her better liked. The kids (like a certain president) don't feel that oral sex is any big deal.
So they have written a play. There is such interest in creating this work that sixty kids are involved, some of whom have absolutely no experience in theatre whatsoever. I was at the theatre today for rehearsal and from the look of many of the actors, this may be the first time they've been inside a theatre, much less performed. The stage manager was giving them a lengthy lesson on the etiquette of just being in a legitimate theatre.
There is such excitement about doing this, about telling the adults in their lives that high school today is not Leave it to Beaver. For most of them, this is not "the best time in their lives."
Carlos says, "Im seeing a lot of confusion, a lot of sadness. When you hear these kids speak you see tears coming. Its very sad. From someone who grew up and was born in this town, its horrifying to me that a child feels so sad. I dont know what we can do about that."
I have a feeling this show is going to raise more than a couple of eyebrows. Davis has been a town that has prided itself as being "better than most." We are the sister city to Lake Woebegone, where our women are strong, our men are good looking and our children are all above average. It may be that people in this town, if they elect to come to the show, will hear what it's really like for those "above average" children.
"They are working so hard," I was told.
Perhaps the adult community will find out about the reality of the issues the kids deal with every day. And maybe they'll realize the kids are crying out to be listened to.
If the show doesn't get shut down for objectionable material first, that is.
The teacher says she hopes this is the first step of an ongoing process. Things must have reached crisis stage for young people these days. I just read an article this morning about a Canadian play called "Shape" which is getting a lot of press. It concerns girl bullies, a problem few adults have acknowledged even exists.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Isn't this great? Another of Peggy's pictures
here for the Lawsuit Song of the Day