"'Theater is literally making the minds of our urban populations today. It is a huge factory of sentiment of character, of points of honor, of conceptions of conduct, of everything that finally determines the destiny of a nation. The theater is not only a place of amusement, it is a place of culture, a place where people learn how to think, act and feel.' Seldom, however, do we associate the theater with our plans for civic righteousness, although it has become som important a factor in city life." (Addams, pg. 28)Addams proposes more public interaction through leagues, social groups and recreational activities in public spaces. Rather than have kids watch and learn social norms through the mass medium of the day, theater, she thinks they should be out socializing among people their own age in real environments in the urban setting.
While I believe in public space should be available to provide for social groups to come together, theater is a useful tool in harnessing social change and acceptance. Below is a video from TED Talks talking about how theater can be a tool for social change:
This YoutTube clip is from TEDx-Adelaide. TED Talks is a forum that hosts events around the world to discuss ideas that have the ability to impact and change the world. The topics range widely and speakers from all walks of life are encouraged to sign up and participate. Edwin Kemp Attrill is a freelance theater artist, producer and artistic director of ActNow Theater for Social Change. He was worked as a director and tutor for Urban Myth Theater of Youth, No Strings Attached Theater of Disability, Vitalstatistix and in youth detention centers across SA. In the video he discusses how we can use theater as a tool to change social behavior. He argues that it can be used for good and establish acceptance for different view points and beliefs.
Addams seems to be short sited on the good ideas that can be propagated through theater. Children can find acceptance through normalization of quirky characters. They can be taught tolerance and acceptance for different ideas and beliefs. Understanding that this is obviously not the theater that Addams is discussing in the selection, she does not advocate for the ideas that theater might be able to teach kids. Theater was and is a way to spread ideas through popular culture. It creates a forum for topics that might be taboo in society to discuss to be discussed in a semi-public forum.
I argue that theater is good for young people. Opening young minds to new ideas rather than allowing them to normalize public opinion through socialized organizations leads to maintained social order. The theater can be a reflection of the weaknesses in society. It can open up discussion and provide alternative views points that may not be heard through natural society. Without the theater's creative expression, we limit the progressive ideas that make the world a better place.