High School Theater is an underfunded extra-curricular activity for teenagers with no discernible talent, athletic ability, or chance of getting laid.
Just The Facts
- Theater is a performing art, existing in both time and space.
- High School Theatre is a performing "art," existing primarily on the cafeteria stage.
- There will always be exactly one kid with true talent, and that kid will inevitably go on to be a marketing major.
To Be or Not To Be...
In 1927 the University Interscholastic League (UIL), based out of the University of Texas, introduced the first One Act Play competition for high schools as a way to encourage the growth of the arts in public schools. Soon after, the first "The Swirly" was performed, though due to most schools at the time lacking flushing toilets, it was commonly referred to as "The Carmel Apple."
Post WWII saw the rise of the Arts in Public Education. Theatre courses and annual drama productions began to pop up at high schools across the country, and other states followed Texas' lead in establishing competitive theatrical festivals. At any given time, in any given school district, one could witness a ruthless butchering of Thorton Wilder's Our Town, or perhaps be swept away by the stunning papier-mache and Elmer's glue themed mise-en-scene in a rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In modern times, thanks to government policies like No Child Left Behind, high school administrators have followed the lead of the portion of their student body that has been past second base, ignoring the kids in the drama programs and hoping they'll just go away.
Imagine if all of your dreams of being a rich and famous movie star were crushed by the realization that you suffer from male pattern baldness, or are a normal shaped woman. Rather than taking it out on the world, you choose to usher children along the same path of disappointment in the hopes that one of them will actually make it, and thank you in their Oscar acceptance speech.
Congratulations! You're well on your way to a life spent organizing a gaggle of hormone-spiked sophomores with self esteem issues into a two hours long work of art, which is like trying to land a 747 in the midst of a sweaty, spastic, insecure, chronically masturbating hurricane. A typical theater season will look something like this:
If that wasn't enough, there is also a major creep factor that comes part-and-parcel with the job. All that touchy-feely, exploring your emotions, let's rub bodies against each other as we pretend to be animals, showering with the teacher (you guys did that in high school, right?); to the untrained eye it might seem as if a line is being crossed somewhere.
The quality of high school theatre facilities are as varied as the kids who participate in the programs, and by that we mean a large majority of them suck balls. A few school districts around the nation manage to somehow come up with enough scratch to build nice facilities, like this one:
Don't worry, at Lewis and Clark HS in Spokane, WA, the jocks can still be counted on to shout "More like GAYS and Dolls."
But, if you are like the majority of kids in the U.S., chances are your high school stage looked more along the lines of this:
Pictured: Your canvas.
Nowhere else in public education will you find such an eclectic group of social pariahs and wannabe starlets
In high school theater, acting is spelled P-A-Z-Z-A-Z.
Armed with the knowledge of complex theatrical theories like knowing the difference between stage right and stage left, the high school actor is more than capable of delving into the most challenging roles, such as Convenience Store Clerk #2, and with a little hard work and experience, perhaps will one day work herself up to the coveted role of Convenience Store Clerk #1.
The training of an adolescent actor is mostly comprised of a series of animal imitation exercises and verbal abuse by the director for not having your GODDAMN LINES MEMORIZED! Seriously, this is his fuckin' job, people! Fuuuuuuck!!!
Once this delicate process is complete and all instinct has been suppressed in favor of stiff, robotic movements and a complete lack of interpretive initiative, an actor is born. Now sit back and be swept away into the mystic chasm of total theatrical illusion by the brilliance of young Suzy's deft portrayal of an arm-flailing, slightly retarded Abigail Williams, exactly as Arthur Miller envisioned.
Lookit! We're acting!