For better or worse, there’s a stigma on high school drama.
There’s an expectation that it’s all about inexperienced actors getting their time on the stage. There will be awkward pauses, missed lines, prompted lines, and generally a story line which the audience won’t think about in the morning.
I produce high school drama, but what I described above does not describe what I try to achieve on the stage.
For one, I think it is selling high school kids short to think that they can’t move an audience, make them think, and impact them in meaningful ways.
I’ve seen it.
I never make excuses for my actors. I never say, “Well, their high schoolers, give them a break.”
No, don’t give them a break. Expect more from them. Give them challenging material. Show them that they can do more than silly comedy. That they can reach into the audience and affect them in ways that are unimaginable. I’ve seen it. Many times. Many many times. And if there are drama teachers out their selling their students short, well, then that’s too bad.
I’ve known drama teachers who have seen some of the stuff that we have produced and have told me that they wish the school administration would let them produce stuff like that. But they only want sweet little meaningless shows so it becomes not much more than a photo-op for parents. Disney. Disney. And the like.
We need to give kids more credit. I’ve seen it many times.
A couple years back, we produced a short play entitled “I once was blind” which brought tears to peoples eyes. We did a piece which touched on suicide called “No, in spite of itself” which was poignant and meaningful, hitting kids and adults on a level usually not seen in high school.
And this year I’ve seen our award-winning play, “Words to Say at the End of the World,” speak to countless people. I had one parent recently asked me for the video because she was so moved and the piece reminded her of her relationship with her daughter.
Acting is acting. It doesn’t matter what someone’s age is, we need to expect great things, demand great things, write great things, produce great things, insist on great things – so the audience will walk away moved and changed, not just with a silly smirk because of another high school production.
When we demand more, we get more.
That’s my point of view.