Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Two Books, Not Alike In Dignity

I know I've basically abandoned this blog for more than a year now, and I don't know if anyone uses Blogspot anymore, but I wanted to write something that matches up more closely with what I've been doing here than on Tumblr.

Spring of 2012, I compiled the Cary High Speech and Debate Handbook, which was essentially 120 pages of inside jokes with some debate jargon and pictures thrown in. I enjoyed doing it, and the majority of the team bought copies, using them as our own special yearbooks. It was silly. It was fun. I'm glad to have done it.

Spring of 2013, having left the debate world for rock4ever95's theatre company (oh dear god is it weird to use that handle after all this time--remember when we waged bitter blog-war against each other about John Green? Yeah, we're in love and kicking ass in the local theatre community now, just to catch up all of the mothballs still hanging around this place), I'm now working on a vaguely similar project detailing the history of said company.

Similar in that it's a book about a group of friends who have been collaborating on something for a long time, but totally, totally different in contents. While God knows we have our share of inside jokes too, Left Field Theatre is bigger than a school club. It means something. Sure, debate can bring kids out of their shells, make them some friends, and win them some trophies, and those things are all good, but I've watched Left Field Theatre transform people--and have been transformed by it myself--in a way debate never did or could.

Sure, I gained some things from doing debate. I learned a few philosophical principles, gained the courage to talk in front of a judge and someone just waiting to tear apart my every word, and found some people to laugh with--and yes, won some trophies too.

But contrast a room with an opponent and a judge with a church filled with dozens of people. Contrast reading off a carefully planned argument before refuting any rebuttals with becoming a completely different person for three hours. Contrast small weekly meetings and one full-team practice the night before tournament with months of rehearsals leading up to a single weekend. Contrast standing behind a podium in a suit with doing a strip tease in a leather trench coat with every eye in the building fixed on you.

I've watched people fall, and I've watched people rise. I've done some rising and falling myself. I've watched people go from immature, joking drug users to production staff members. I've watched people open up--not just verbally, but emotionally. I've learned about people and life--not just how to twist a statistic to fit my purposes and bullshit persuasive responses to questions. It's been beautiful. It's been hellishly painful.

I won't pretend everything has been perfect and that theatre is the magical cure-all and Great Unifying Force of all people. There have been drop-outs. There have been falling-outs. But for the people it has touched--the boy who realized he didn't need twelve layers of irony to truly connect with people, the self-harming girl who found a reason to get out of bed in the morning, the boy cast out of his school theatre department who finally found a place to be accepted, and all of this while working together to create a work of art-- nothing could ever replace it.

This book tells a story. And while right now I don't feel like my writing has done that story justice, that story is about more than just some fun times in high school.

This is the story of three teenagers, only one of whom had any theatre experience worth mentioning, putting on a show with just $40 to rival those of the independent and town-sponsored groups in our area. This is the story of some artists who did something new. This is the story of a group of people reaching out and supporting one another through both the awful and the amazing--as we like to say in our vocal warm-ups, "Whether the weather is cold, or whether the weather is hot, we'll be together whatever the weather, whether we like it nor not."

I loved my time with the debate team. Truly, I did. But this has been something else--something so much more and better. And this book, and the experience of writing this book, which of course is what triggered this post tonight, reflects that.

I'll post a link to the PDF once I'm finished.

1 comment:

Talk to me.