Friday, July 17, 2015

Theater Camp

My kids have attended a few camps offered at Hudson Valley Community College. A bizarre side effect of these camps is that every now and then one of my kids receives mail from HVCC. Nothing makes you do a double take like getting the mail and seeing college flyers addressed to your 3rd grader.

Over the past two weeks, my oldest daughter attended a theater camp at HVCC. At the camp, the kids were split into two groups and each group of kids wrote a short play that was performed this afternoon. There was some adult directorial guidance, but for the most part the creative process was kid driven. The first group, which was mostly elementary school kids, wrote a play about good kids and bad kids and how the bad kids had a secret cave with a button that caused some earthquakes. In the end, every one was friends again, but the bad kids were starting to plan turning Iceland into Greenland and Greenland into Iceland. The play was complete with a song and dance number.

Maybe I'm over analyzing, but the play appeared to be strongly influence by what's going on in elementary school pop culture. Coming to the Disney Channel later this month is a made for Disney TV movie called the Descendents. It's the story of the children of the worst Disney Villains that grew up in exile and are being welcomed back into "good" society by a progressive prince or king or whatever. The control panel in the evil cave wasn't unlike the control panel in the movie Inside Out and everybody getting along is pretty similar to the anti bullying message these kids see on a daily basis. Which brings us to the mostly older group (with some younger kids mixed in):

The name of the second play was "It can Wait." It's about texting while driving. While there were definitely some comedy mixed in with the drama, the play opens with a group of girls driving to a movie, the driver is texting, and all of the passengers in car are killed in an accident. My kids aren't old enough for me to have experience with this age group, but I believe the same analysis of present day influences holds true.

My main takeaways from the second play:
1. I think most kids that are going to learn how to drive in a few years have been bombarded with enough "texting while driving kills" messages to scare them out of texting while driving once they get on the road.

2. The reporters in the play were working for "YNN - Your Nosy News" which makes me think that the preteen age group is unimpressed with television news. The reporters were nosy, a little rude and were played with an "anything for ratings" attitude. Television news isn't going to cut for that generation. Maybe weather reports, but that's probably it.

3. In a town council scene, the vote is tied at 2-2. The town council leader stands up and declares she will have to cast the deciding vote and then wonders which way to go. Two council members pass her some money and she quickly votes with them. Wow.

I didn't become completely disillusioned with politicians until my late 20s these kids are making bribe jokes before 13. Jaded before they can drive. In five or six years, there is going to be a wave of voters that aren't going to watch television news so they won't care what politicians say on television news and they are already under the impression that elected officials are routinely bought. Not sure if any politicians stop by this corner of the web (not sure why they would), but 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are unimpressed with you.

I wonder what kind of play high school actors would have written.

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