Sunday, January 6, 2008
The $64,000 question
NOTE: THIS UPLOAD IS RATED R (but if teenagers can use the word...)
In a message dated 1/5/08 9:25:06 AM, Amherst AC writes:
So what did we mean by "portions of"?
In a message dated 1/5/08 1:21:54 PM, hochmanj@ARPS.ORG writes:
Lots of details to work on this.
On your "portions" question - last time there was a scene or two omitted or modified. I have questions for this performance and what's included and what's not.
We'll have the same restrictions on age for attendance (last time no middle schoolers or below) and parent permission for others. Parent permission to be a participant. No school day or assembly type performance. Done in context of a week of awareness raising. In other words, choice for those who want to be near it with parent permission and choice for those who don't want to be near it.
Some context - last year the students wanted to do the show. They did the performance off campus in Northampton. Principal (who was not here last time) found it to be an important performance.
I continue to struggle with this (and I did last time, too). It's high school. I get that. These are teenagers. I get that. On the other hand, the world of sex and violence to which they are exposed is outside of our control and the messages are horrendous and they are routine. The movies - the music - and the stories from their college campuses. And although the language and content of this show is as extreme of some of those exposures, it is a message presented in a way that counters much of negative messages they see and hear in the real world.
As I left the performance last time, what struck me was the message that the young men in attendance got. Yes - there was laughter, language, and sexual references - but there was also a powerful message that I have to think continues to run through their minds as they are now young men on college campuses, in fraternities, and out in that real world. The Duke lacrosse team members were not guilty of rape - but two messages came out of that event: that such situations DO occur on campuses (and in spite of what the media does not cover, there is sexual violence on campuses) and what was forgotten was that a group of young men hired strippers for a regular old college party. Perhaps a dose of a few scenes of the performance would get them to think twice.
So - with that - and drawing a circle around it so only those with permission and readiness to attend/participate do so, that may be the balance to strike for high school - and for those who don't get the message - perhaps they get it in other ways as they get older.
Finally - this fits in with recent efforts at raising awareness and focusing on responsiveness for student well-being and safety. We had a committee of counselors and teachers address the issue of a "code of silence" among students and adults. What we learned was that such a code does exist - that students do have incidents and issues - and many do not tell a trained adult. Bullying - internet bullying - all that students are exposed to on the internet - it's only getting worse. We have been addressing that with faculty and staff all year starting with identifying boundaries for the adults and their responsibility as "first responders" to kids and adults with issues. We spend a lot of time on calculus and our six world languages - but these issues, too, are important and who/what Amherst is. If we push the envelope, it will be researched and well-thought out.
More than you asked, but I feel I owe you as much explanation as possible.
In a message dated 1/5/08 1:33:45 PM, Amherst AC writes:
Yeah, a bit more than I asked for. Let me rephrase: Are you going to allow "Reclaiming Cunt" monologue?
In a message dated 1/5/08 2:18:25 PM, hochmanj@ARPS.ORG writes:
I'll get back to you on that.
In a message dated 1/5/08 2:26:42 PM, Amherst AC writes:
And while you're at it: "The little Coochie Snorcher" is #2 on my list. You know, the one where a 24-year-old has sex with a 16-year-old after warming her up with alcohol (and in Ensler's original 1996 edition she was only 14 years old).
Sunday: 11:45 am. Now that I think about it there are two questions: Will ARHS censor that particularly offensive 'VM' skit (thus vindicating my 2004 crusade) and will the Superintendent of the Amherst Schools actually use the C-word in writing?