Have you ever heard the phrase, "Too dumb to know that they can't"? I have. It's usually in relation to a person who is incredibly talented, and who has managed beyond all imaginings to succeed where many others had failed or refused to try. In almost all cases it refers NOT to the person's ignorance or stupidity but to their innocence, the fearlessness of trying something for the first time.
You see these kids? Most of them don't know that they aren't supposed to be in the planning stages of a show. They don't know that, at least when I was growing up, ADULTS made all the plans. The kids would get to paint and if you had a really patient drama-mama who was handling the costumes they might get to pin or sew a costume a bit, but who is going where, what type of set? That was for the adults.
I didn't want that for my class. I wanted ALL the kids to be part of every aspect of our shows. Those kids who want to act...WANT 'EM. Those kids who NEVER want to act...WANT 'EM.
Well, because it is rare to find someone with ZERO talent in anything, and because young people are dripping with un-tapped talents...weird-things-to-be-good-at oozes from their pores. You never know who the fantastic tech kid is going to be and how he or she got that way. Or the NOTE-TAKER WIZARDING WONDER that is housed inside that mousey kid who rarely speaks. My group actually has a couple of costume geniuses, 8 or 9 secret musicians (like really good musicians- cellist, violin, piano, drums, several guitars, and quite a few vocalists), some dancers, at least 3 playwrights (so far), many Tetris-like furniture and prop stackers (although, I believe this stems from only 1 or 2, I have no proof), several born leaders, and as of this semester two fantastic note-takers who I would have paid to have in college with me.
It's pretty well known that kids look at the world differently than adults do. There's another question that gets asked that comes to mind. What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? As 47-year old, heavy-set, divorcee, I often have a hard time answering that question. I mean, I've failed at everything at least once. Sometimes my well-earned anxiety becomes the very thing that blocks me and I know it.
Having the cast in it from the very beginning...allowing them the first impression...telling them that I need THEM to decide what they want to tackle...and then hearing the sometimes breath-taking ideas on how they want to tackle each aspect helps me realize where my fear sits and gives me an entirely new perspective on the project.
So there it is, the reason that I want them in everything is a little less altruistic than, "I want them to figure out what they are good at." The reason is as much, I want to stop worrying that we will fail. I want to see how far we can go with these ideas I never would have thought of. This group of people, given the right to accomplish anything, will accomplish far more than my worried attempts at "perfection", no matter that I'm the only official grown-up at the table.
What you see in the picture is the first read-through of one act of our Spring Show. Auditions are today. Some of the cast will audition for parts, some will beg me for behind the scenes leadership opportunities, and some will do both. I will cast and choose a part and a job for each of them. Meetings will be held, plans will be made, and MOST of the notes will be in the handwriting of people who are 30+ years younger than I am.
Because they are too "dumb" to know that they can't. And I hope that they stay that way for the rest of their lives.
<3 Ms. Stacey