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Moving of the Children's Theater to Summer
What a Teacher had to say:

Cathy Essinger, Associate Professor of English, ECC
B.A.,Bowling Green State University; M.A.,Wright State University

One day last week I was leaving the building after a night class. I noticed lights on in the old auditorium and stopped to see what was going on. Matt Williams was taking down the stage that has been used for the children's plays. We talked for a few minutes and then sat down in the back of the auditorium to reminisce. It was here that I saw children in Jack and the Beanstalk and Rachel Currie as "Imogene" in The Christmas Pageant. Last year I watched 20 children stand up and lisp all of those difficult lines from Dickins' Christmas Carol. I had expected a children's version of an adult play, but here were 8 to 12 year olds performing as adults. Their pride in their performance was obvious, even though there were bumbles, and goofs, and forgotten lines. They were actors, and they were almost as delighted as their parents and siblings in the audience.

I can't tell you how many times people have stopped me in a mall or at a restaurant to tell me how much they have enjoyed a live performance at Edison, or how much a theatre program has meant to their students. Teachers from the local school districts plan their spring literature lessons around Edison's performance, and over 600-800 highs school students attend each year.

When I learned that the auditorium was going to be replaced with a new computer lab, I assumed that we would be making provisions for the theatre people who had been using this space. In a sense, we have. I was told that the children's' performances will take place in the summer in the courtyard, and the theatre students will find accommodations in town or at some area theatre. (Remember when we tried to serve ice cream in the courtyard? The ice cream melted faster than we could lick and sunglasses were mandatory.) These "accommodations" will in effect destroy the children's theatre program and severely hamper the student actors who stage two productions every year that could rival any professional performance in our area. I can't imagine how difficult it will be to teach when students are not on campus. Imagine having your office at Edison, but your classroom in town? Would that work for you?

I have no doubt that we have need of the new computer lab, although Edison and computers have become almost synonymous. Several of my students this fall joked that the middle C in ECC ought to stand for Computer--Edison Computer College. But, I find it odd that in order to further the aims of one program we must cripple another. Surely, there were alternative suggestions, or a more cautious approach that would have allowed us time to preserve the theatre programs intact.

So, instead of Rapunzal and Othello and Hamlet, we will have 50 new computers.
Instead of students performing on stage, we will have a double classroom that seems to thwart Edison's signature small classrooms.

Every semester students tell me, "I had never seen a live performance," or "I had never performed on stage until I came to Edison," but I have never had a student tell me "I had never seen a computer until I came to Edison." Perhaps we should look again at our core values. Aren't we supposed to value diversity, creativity, spontaneity? It's hard form me to imagine that a new computer lab will bring any audience to its feet, or cause any student to step out onto a stage in a brave new role. We should have done better.

We at ESEA could have done better, too, if we had been more involved. Those of us who have stood by and said nothing, assuming that such decisions were out of our hands, should also be called to task. Hard working people have been treated shabbily. Is that servant leadership? Who will be there to watch over your program when someone decides that it is no longer relevant, or necessary, or deserving of space?

 

 

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