As I sit in on rehearsal for the upcoming musical, I am struck by the dedication before me on the large unadorned stage.
It is powerful to see a group of high school students who posses the ability to transform themselves despite their rather bare surroundings, and severely limited space. This of course, is what makes talent in the arts so undeniably exciting. The audience will come and be transported into the small world created by these enthusiastic and talented beings on stage, all because they themselves are immersed in the plot. What is even more surprising is that most all of them are under the age of 18, and have excelled far beyond restrictions many feel would be put in place by their age.
I am thoroughly convinced that on the stage before me is a grandmother of at least 65, when in reality it is a theater student of maybe 17. I can’t take my eyes off the talent and numerous displays of excelled artistic expression. I am however, awakened, through my musical experience, to a slight tinge of reality when I hear minor vocal mistakes. An ensemble sings in what should be an almost transcendental culmination of voices. They should be nearly invisible behind the solos and spoken words above them, and yet it is off. I hear an alto singing out of tune, and realize it has awakened me from the induced state of musical immersion. As obnoxious as this sense is, I quickly realize it does not go unnoticed, and the director is plagued as well.
He stops the rehearsal, addressing the group firmly. He reminds them of the number of times they have gone over the scene, and the importance of each individual on the stage to make the scene happen. I am struck again. This is it, the reason why the arts so desperately needs to be in education. The stage is silent as he speaks, and the response reflecting from the critique is undeniably tense. The students, in their own power, hold the ability to make or break the scene, and they alone are responsible for doing so.
How infinitely magical is that? It is what is missing from almost every other aspect of society. Accountability. The knowledge that you yourself hold the power to the betterment of what you produce, and in turn, the resulting affect of what you put out into the world. The even more important aspect of the circumstance is that the kids make a change. They are affected, and in turn make a conscious decision to change their actions for the betterment of a result. All this of course occurs on a stage, in a matter of moments. The scene continues on, and the students again immerse themselves in their art. So deeply and profoundly engaged in having an affect on their audience.