A Six Year Old Reminds Us of the Power of Musical Theater.
I was at a schmancy business conference several months ago, and I was mingling during the perfunctory after hours nocktails (that wasn’t a typo, btw – I call cocktail hours at a conference “nock-tails” . . . because it’s networking + cocktails = nocktails).
It was a pretty cool event because there were a lot of folks from a lot of different lines of work, and I found myself talking to an investment banker who focuses on emerging markets, a human rights attorney, and a non-profit CEO.
“And what do you do . . . uh . . . Ken,” the investment banker said, his eyes darting across my chest like spotlights, looking for my name on my also perfunctory name tag.
“I produce Broadway musicals.”
I saw one of them (whose job shall remain nameless), smile and chuff, as if to say, “Wow, I’m so much more important than you. You produce silly entertainment.” The others started looking around the room for other “important” folks to talk to.
Yep, business conference snobbery.
If ever anyone makes you feel that way (after September 11th, my Mom, who loves the theater, wanted me to go into politics to put my brain to “good work”) or if you ever feel that way, watch the video below of a six year old girl explaining the story of Kinky Boots.
This is a six year old girl that has been taught, by a musical, that “You are in charge of yourself. No one can tell you what to do.”
Let me repeat that. This girl is SIX!
At an age when she’s just forming her opinions on the world, and on other people, she’s being taught non-conformity and acceptance (and when you watch, notice how she refers to Lola as “she” throughout the entire video – is that cool or what?).
To quote another musical, talking about being “carefully taught,” and is there anything more important than that?
Great musicals and great plays do what textbooks don’t. They teach without the audience knowing they are being taught.
To quote yet another musical, I call this the “spoonful of sugar” approach. In the theater, we have the power to shape society by entertaining them first, and letting that joy, and the message that goes along with it, resonate through the audience’s lives.
That’s the kind of theater I want to create, and I urge you to do the same.
So Mr. Investment Banker and Laywer and Non Profit CEO, you do important work. No doubt about it.
But just because we make people smile and laugh and dance in the aisles, doesn’t mean we don’t too.
And if you don’t believe me, perhaps you should hear it from this six year old. (Email subscribers, click here if you can’t see the video in this post.)
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