Monday, May 28, 2012

Day One Hundred Seventy Five: Diversity Play

Kelli is the teacher. Both little Ryan and Moira sit crossed legged on the floor. Both want to be the First Nations Hunter, not the turkey. The teacher picks Moira.

Ryan walks in late for class and has to write lines. Moira walks in even later and the teacher asks her about after school activities. Ryan points out this is not fair and gets into more trouble. Moira checks her cell phone and Ryan points out there are no cell phones in school. He gets in even more trouble and finally gets sent to the office.

Kelli is driving and Moira points out they need gas. Ryan suggests they go to Little Black Bear but Moira wants to go to Shell. Ryan points out LBB is cheaper, but Moira says Shell has better service. Ryan says, "LBB pumps the gas for you," but Moira says, "But the Shell people smile." Kelli says, "The smile means everything." They go to Shell.

Moira walks into a store, trying things on. Kelli is very polite to Moira. Ryan walks in and Kelli approaches him and asks if he is planning to buy something. Her tone is harsh. Ryan is planning on buying something, but Kelli interrupts him; meanwhile, Moira is robbing the till. Ryan says, "She's robbing you." Kelli says, "Sir, if you're going to have to leave or I'm calling security." Ryan says, "But she's robbing you." Moira leaves the store, smiling, with money stuffed in her pockets.

Moira is a police officer and she is talking to Kelli, a pedestrian. Ryan walks by and Moira stops him and asks if he's been drinking and why he's out this late at night. Ryan says he hasn't been drinking and starts grumbling about, "this always happens." Moira says, "Sir, please show me the inside of your pockets." Then Ryan gets more frustrated. Moira tells him to put his hands on the bench and spread his legs. She frisks him. Kelli leaves.

Kelli is the auctioneer. Moira bids on Frank Nitti's hat and Ryan tries make the next bid, but Kelli overlooks him and takes someone else from the crowd. Moira bids again and Ryan tries to make the next bid, but Kelli overlooks him again. This happens twice more until Moira has the bid and Ryan is trying to get in before the bid is closed, but Kelli won't acknowledge him. Moira gets the hat. Ryan storms off the stage.

I'm uncomfortable in the audience, watching the play through my blue eyes. I'm proud of Moira, my daughter, who holds herself so well and speaks out so confidently on stage, but I'm also aware she is type-cast-acting, playing her role in white privilege perfectly. Ryan's mom, Jan, is sitting in front of me. I know she is proud of her son, too. He's an award winning actor, after all, only in grade nine and having taken second place in the Regional Drama Festival as overall best actor. But I feel guilty and uncomfortable knowing she is watching a different play than I am. My blue eyes are watching her watch the play through brown eyes. I know Jan isn't pointing any fingers at me; she is one of the most positive people I know and has dedicated her life to helping people heal. Still, I want to unpack everything with her, confess to the unfairness in society, but Jan isn't asking for my confession. She's there as a fellow-mom, proud of our kids, like I am.

When the play is over I whisper to Michael who worked on the script with the kids, "I needed a little closure, a little unpacking, something to clear the air."

He says, "Maybe that's part of the point, the air doesn't get cleared."

The adjudicator for Prairie Valley School Division's first Arts Festival asks the kids how they came up with the play on this year's theme: diversity. The kids talk a bit about the process and then Michael adds, "We read Peggy McIntosh's, 'White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.'" The adjudicator focuses most of her workshop on Ryan. He needs to accentuate the dynamic of his character. At first he's a sweet little kid, and then when things don't go his way, he's sad, but it's not a big deal. The next scenario is a little more serious, and Ryan needs to slouch a little more, and add disillusionment and frustration. Each time, he's going into the scene with his head up, shoulders back, but each time he gets knocked a little lower. This is the reality of the play. This is the reality.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it hurts when it stares us in the face and maybe it should. How the world would change if we all lived in someone else's shoes just one day.