Friday, October 20, 2006

do people matter?

friday morning, just home from thursday's work- i went from having no gigs booked for thursday up until wednesday lunchtime, to having a workshop @ 9am, then straight to shakespeare to help grims with some carpentry (replacing floor, post-fire+sprinklers) until after 11pm- so much for learning lines for shakespeare and equus before i start tech this weekend...
but my real gripe today wasn't the length of it, but that the 2 different local theatres, both considered historic buildings, are thus mostly handicapped-inaccessible because the rules say they can't do anything to change the buildings. now i'm all for preserving historic sites, but not to the detriment of people- saying that a building can't be made handicapped-accessible because it would ruin it seems tantamount to saying that the building's more important than people, and more important than us not discriminating against each other.
today i conducted a student workshop with one student unable to get any closer to the stage where his classmates were performing than the absolute last row of the house, 2feet from the door. he was in my group and we had to exclude him because his wheelchair couldn't get any closer. at his height, it prob'ly also meant that when they actually saw the show after our workshop he can't have seen much from his chair, over the heads of theatregoers between himself and the stage. what he could see would've been thanks only to a raked, raised stage. i tried to include him by making him the voiceover for his group's commercial (the show's state of the union so we're dealing with the selling of political candidates as product) but with them onstage and him @ the back of house and other classmates filling seats in between, they couldn't hear him for their cues anyway and i had to make him redundant, repeating his lines for those onstage and nearer the front of house. it broke my heart that he had to be left @ the back like that, and there was nothing i could do. is any building worth that? i say: fuck no.
the other heartbreak was that one of the groups present was a gateway-type school that for some reason, included the word "probation" in it's name. now i know that may be what the school is, but when dealing with children-at-risk grownups should remember that the system's already told them they're losers, they already feel like the lowest in the pigpile, and our job is to help them break the negative stereotype they've become used to fulfilling. naming the institution they're sent to a "probation house" reinforces the stereotype and embarrasses them every time they have to tell someone where they go to school- which happens at most of the programmes and activities we try to expose them to. the 1st thing i did today was ask them if they all went to the same school, and what was it, thus (unknowingly) forcing them to admit that they attend a probationary institution, and that there's some sort of "confidentiality" rule that actually forbids them from telling me about it. how can this help children-at-risk believe that society gives a shit about them? how can it help them to have to tell relative strangers who think they're asking an innocent question that they have enough issues that the system's getting ready to kick them out altogether? i nearly burst into tears the one time i had to say the name of their school because i couldn't stand saying those words to those girls. and you know i'm no softie, but we're supposed to help them and instead they're put in a situation where they have to verbally reinforce negative stereotypes about themselves just to explain basic facts about themselves.
as a teaching artist i genuinely believe i'm doing positive and valuable work, but i also feel like whatever progress is made with and through us is minimised as soon as the students leave our workshops and go back to their daily lives. sometimes i almost feel like it's a disservice, to tease them with snippets of a good experience, then send them back to the "probation house" and expect them to be able to use what they've learned with us. i didn't have time to cry between the workshop and the next gig, and now i'm so tired that if it didn't upset me so much i wouldn't even be writing this post instead of washing the sawdust outta my locks and falling into bed.

in more amusing theatre news (i needed some between fires, lack of access and probation) my boss @ my shakespeare gig emailed the other day to let us know he had to sign a form (and this is his direct quote) ...certifying that none of you have ever been convicted of a felony or a "crime of moral turpitude."
Let's just say I had to look up the word "turpitude".
almost made me blush.
and another bright spot, from the father-in-law, courtesy our favourite husband, grims, check out this dude's "kinetic art"...
walk good.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You act like you are such a bad ass but deep down inside you care, and that is why I love you so much.

Not that you aren't a bad ass... I would never want to suggest that.

1:17 am  
Blogger angel said...

oh trini- i couldn't agree with you more about the name of that school...
i hope the theatre comes back to the way it was before the fire- with all your work i'm sure it will!

4:46 pm  

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