I just saw a superb production of The Glass Menagerie at Fayetteville High School last night. Full disclosure: my daughter plays Laura. Despite that fact, I don’t think my opinion about the excellence of the show is biased. Every member of the cast, the set, the lighting, and the projection and sound effects were all the quality of a professional production. Those who can should come to see it at the FHS Black Box Theater tonight or Saturday at 7 pm or Sunday at 2 pm. Arrive early to buy tickets because it is an intimate space with limited seating.
Given the shift in education away from the arts toward a narrow focus on math and reading skills, it is wonderful to see how Fayetteville School District is actually expanding its attention to the arts. The performance was held in the new state of the art theater facility at the high school. In his directorial debut, Trevor Cooper is a recent addition to an expanded drama faculty at the high school that now includes four teachers, led by the fabulous Warren Rosenaur. The school’s principal, Steve Jacoby was in the audience last night , as were school board member, Tim Hudson, and several teachers. They come out to see the arts just like they come out to see the football team — both of which make significant contributions to the education of students.
It’s also wonderful that the AP Literature classes saw in-school performances of the play today and yesterday. I suspect that if they also have the chance to read the play in class, the benefits would be even stronger.
I’ll be able to test my suspicion more rigorously with an experiment I am conducting on the effects of students seeing quality theater. With an award-winning local theater company, TheatreSquared, I am conducting a study in which school groups are awarded free tickets by lottery to see A Christmas Carol and Hamlet. We want to how these theater experiences affect students. In particular, we are collecting information on whether students are also reading these plays to see if the combination of reading and seeing a play is particularly effective relative to just reading or just seeing the play.
But even if you’ve never read The Glass Menagerie, come see it this weekend at FHS. And then read it. It’s a beautiful production of a beautiful play.