Fame and Power
Usually in January, right after the week of exams, at a certain high school in Lower Michigan, the Drama Club announces its spring musical, to be performed at the end of April. Naturally a week to two weeks later are tryouts; they decide who gets the big roles, who gets the small roles, who gets no roles. The people with the biggest roles get compliments from audience members who applaud their act. Fame and power, right? From confidence and privilege. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
But, that’s one side of the story, the side of the audience members who want to enjoy a good show. Ultimately, the decisions of the casting fall to the Directors, a close-knit group of like minded people. Slowly they cast people by personality, but that is not real acting. “ Acting is an activity in which a story is told by means of its enactment by an actor or actress who adopts a character — in theatre, television, film, radio, or any other medium that makes use of the mimetic mode.” (wikipedia). Simply stated: the purpose of acting is to be someone else! Not only are these leaders missing the point, but they are missing opportunities to be groundbreaking. Unfortunately most people feel they have no chance, no matter how good they are. Before the musical is announced, they know who will get the lead. Each person accepts in because they have no other choice, saving pride over anger and injustice. Each year the acting is superficial and rigid, for the play is just a method to get fame and power, but the actual art of the thing is lost.
Why not stand up to injustice, speak your mind, help this republic, kept crumbling by the shortsightedness of the rulers? Fear, probably of rejection, disapproval of the truth: that the director’s decisions are not only hurting the club and the people involved, but those who are themselves praised and invariably chosen to play lead roles.
This is a common high school occurrence for me, and I do not know if this comes from living in a small town, but you will find certain people are picked out and groomed to be the leaders based solely on if an adult likes them or not. Talent and hard work are put aside, and these people are meant to lead us? Most often, we either put up with poor leadership, maybe even enjoy it, and dissenters may be ostracized or disrespected. No one has sought to look at things critically, the way they are, and wonder, “Is this what we’re telling our teenagers the world will be like? That there are some people who are destined for fame and power and they are intrinsically better than others.” Isn’t this the same dogma portrayed by George Orwell’s Animal Farm? The very same which creates the rich 1% in the first place?
Drama club has taught me a very important lesson. That the leads go to those who are better than you, no matter how good you are, and there is no point to arguing it. Resisting, rebelling.
Normalizing this kind of behavior in a place like a high school, worries me more for the future. Now more than ever, the world needs people who will look for the truth of a situation, instead of the comforting lies; the people who want to solve the problems instead of accepting them; the people who do not learn because somebody told them if they got all A’s they would be renowned, but because they simply must; there is nothing more human than curiosity. The people that have depression, who see the big picture of the world; expansive and yet, so, so small. The people who society rejects, like one who would rather be a poor musician, than a middle class white collar worker living the perfect American dream.
The influences of the unconventional are enumerable, visionary, groundbreaking, and world-saving. But, where is their platform? Haven’t they yet been given a lead role by society? A society who is comforted by sameness, by the idea of predestination, a people with ideals so alike they could not dissent or listen to the dissenters. Society holds itself back, patting itself on the back with meaningless markers like high school grades. Fame and power should belong to those who deserve it, who have worked hard to achieve their craft; who comprehend the world in a way that does not belong to society, but belongs to humanity. But fame belongs to the chosen, those for whom success has been with since they took their first steps, and power belongs to the narcissists.
And the rest of us? We let ourselves be sidelined, we let society carry on it’s merry way.
Author’s note: My drama club is this way, and I probably half wrote it because I’m salty about the casting decisions. Please leave any suggestions below! I’m still an amateur writer, so I doubt this is perfect. Thanks!