Thursday, June 16, 2011

Throwdown: Showcase vs. Awards Ceremony

I spent all weekend working on the Apprentice Showcase at the Arden.  Each year, the Arden hires a "class" of about 6 apprentices.  The class consists of college graduates who have theater experience but may not know exactly what they want to do in theater.  The apprentices work in all areas of the theater:  box office, front of house, education, development, production, etc. In addition to all this (a 60 hour work week), they put on a Showcase at the end of the year.

I found this class to be very different from other classes.  (To be fair, I've only known a couple of others).  They seemed more grounded, more intellectual...they also seemed to be in sync with my view on people and ideas so obviously they are very intelligent.  Anyway, this showcase was different than previous ones.  Instead of presenting pieces picked by the Artistic Department, they chose their own pieces -- some even wrote their own. They didn't want the same people who had worked on it in the past which is where I came in.  They asked me to be their Theatre Coordinator.  I couldn't exactly stage manage it because of the union.  They came up with the title although I really liked one of the apprentices suggestions.  He thought I should just be listed as "friend" in the program.  How cool would that be as a title, "friend"?

We had very little time to tech in the lights, sounds, and costumes.  We met on Saturday for 8 hours and on Sunday for 3 and then they performed Sunday night and Monday night.  There was another show in the theater so the apprentices and the designers had limited time to rehearse and design.  But still, we pulled it off.  There's something exciting about getting in to a theater and seeing how great you can make a show with a very limited amount of time.  Priorities become very important:  light the person who is speaking, high priority, making that person look good, low priority.

I contrast that with my daughter's Awards Ceremony aka Graduation from Sixth Grade.  I was working on that this week as well.  The teachers put together these folders which contain each student's award.  These folders are stuffed and put under each student's chair.  But the student is not allowed to touch the folder until the end of the ceremony when he or she picks up his or her folder and carries it back to his or her classroom. Then, and only the is the student allowed to open the folder.  I'm not exaggerating.  The teachers threaten the kids within an inch of their lives about the folders.   Don't ask me why they don't just give the folders to the kids in the classroom.

I know this because the kids rehearsed this ceremony for 4 straight days:  walk in, sit down, stand for the pledge, sit down, walk up, get certificate of completion ('cause they aren't actually graduating), sit down, MIME picking up the folders, return to classroom.  My tax dollars at work.

Don't get me started on the awards.  They get an award for being in chorus.  The entire 6th grade is required to be in chorus.  They get an award for participating in D.A.R.E.  The entire 6th grade is required to participate in D.A.R.E.  These kids are going to grow up expecting an award every time they fart!   "Why Bill, that fart was great.  It wafted just over 3 cubicles.  Expect a little extra in your check this week."

The ceremony took 2 hours.  The high school graduation (an actual graduation) with 5 times as many students took 90 minutes.  I have to be careful though because of the number of parents who find this sort thing wonderful.  The parents who say, "They do so much for the sixth grade here."   Hey, if you want to get movie theater ass from sitting on bleachers for 2 hours watching your child stand up, in a carefully rehearsed manner, to be recognized because he/she  took the required chorus, feel free.  I kinda wish they'd do a little less for the students.

So I guess this throwdown was a no-brainer.  Did I mention that on our final night of Showcase (they perform twice) that the apprentices would not let me buy my own beer?  I guess they don't need any more points.


  1. woot on not buying your own beer...that is a def perk...ha. i hear you on the youngest got a couple that were a stretch to say the least...awards just to award take away from the affect i believe and the specialness of actually accomplishing something...

  2. I feel the same way about a lot of the blogger awards, most of which seem to be glorified chain letters. That's why I created my own, non-transferable one, and have only given it thrice since its inception.

  3. in America You Get An Award For Farting!!!???? Yours Is Truly The Land Of Opportunity ! :)

  4. Kate I couldn't agree more fortunately we don't have the graduation hoo rah here although I can see it coming. Saturday sport's a bit like that here for kids, they get a trophy even when they deserve a wooden spoon. The showcase sounds pretty interesting though. And 'friend' yeh, stuff the union, I'd take that title any day.

  5. Have none of these parents heard of overkill? My, what will our schools think of next?