Monday, January 23, 2012

Leveraging Communication to Revive Theatre Production

In reading Jane Addams' piece, I was struck by the continued battle over theatre. Not even beginning to touch issues that today may be called dangerous, even simple concepts of socializing can be interpreted by some to support Addams' description of danger.

I remembered an article I read a couple years ago. A high school drama club in Eastern Oregon planned to present "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," a play that reenacts a hypothetical conversation between Picasso and Einstein. I dug around an was surprised to find the ways the story has been saved for world-wide consumption.

In essence, the school leadership bowed to conservative parents who felt the play was "dangerous."

Committed to delivering the play, the students and teacher searched out an alternative location to present the play, feeling that if they organized as a private group of individuals and presented a theatrical performance together the school did not have the authority to shut them down.

The video below and article here show a number of ways communication channels were leveraged to led to the ultimate outcome.
  • Parents used letters to the school administrator to protest the play.
  • Students used face-to-face traditional networking to search out an alternate location for the play.
  • Students used online digital media (YouTube and school television) to broadcast their story through the two videos and build awareness throughout the process (although certainly this 'reporting' is biased).
  • The school board used a meeting to gather and gauge public opinion. (There is your dialogue Plato!)
  • Digital newspapers were used to build awareness and ultimately tell the story to potentially millions world-wide.
 Video 1:

 Video 2:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this controversial news with us.
    Jane Addams argued in her book The spirit of Youth and the City Streets (1909) that theater is dangerous for the moral welfare and it could lead to antisocial behaviors among the young generation. She didn’t trust media, but in my opinion this is kind of a conflict perspective with her vision of the good society was both intensely democratic and somewhat moralistic. Addams believed in democracy and feminism, but she did not allow the freedom of media. Even more, she thought it’s dangerous for girls and young women under the media exposure.

    I thought the parents were conservative on worrying about some of the adult themes and content in the play. In fact, Picasso at the Lapin Agile features Picasso and Einstein’s debate about the value of genius and talent. I believed that students from the La Grande High School could learn a lot from the positive contents. They are young adult who has the ability to distinguish right or wrong. They could be inspired by seeing Picasso at the Lapin Agile and also other plays with controversial contents. In the recent years, children are exposed under the less limited media with any type of messages. I think it’s undemocratic to restrict the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. Actually, limitation on media could bring adverse effect. It’s hard to thoroughly prevent children to get access to the information, but they will be more curious about the prohibited news. Under this negative curiosity, children are more likely to imitate the amoral behaviors, so it’s better to give them a chance to learn something from the positive side.