For the past two weeks, I have been dragging (literally dragging) my ass to the Sears Drama Festival. It didn’t start off that way. I was initially skipping but after only one evening it became dragging. Not to begrudge drama (staged not hallway) at the high school level but I expected more. What I expected had little to do with whether I thought I was going to experience quality theatre but more to do with the air. I was hoping to breathe in that air of juvenile jitters, hyper stage fright and all the delightful hilarity that may go along with that but what I got was young professional swimming in melodrama worthy of Greek tragedy. I saw plays about very mature subject matter, written by clearly self-aware teenagers with same self-aware teenagers being cast in roles far beyond their age/maturity range and for the most part doing an excellent job at that but I was bored. I think I unfairly assumed that I was going to see juvenile things but what I was excited about was the joy that comes along with that, the joy that some of my cynical bitter artist peers sorely lack these days. High School drama is apparently very serious now and yes I do appreciate that since my high school drama class was taught by whatever teacher returned from nervous breakdown sabbatical and needed an easy class BUT for the seriousness did we trade in the joy of being on stage? I wanted to see kids being kids but I saw kids who were so removed from their childhood that they were “acting” as kids.
On the flip side, what was great about being at the festival though was experiencing a high school audience. High school kids don’t sit through plays in silence. They are quite active and vocal in their reactions to absolutely everything. While I initially found myself irritated by this, I slowly grew to enjoy the murmured commentary behind me because it was really a true reaction by kids being so involved with what was happening on stage and I found joy in being among people who didn’t know “the rules” of theatre.
– Not to worry folks. I did find two great Sears shows to bring to SummerWorks. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.