Monday, January 8, 2018

Picture This

The director of the high school musical theatre production gave a speech at Saturday’s parent meeting that was worth saving. And sharing. It was about photographs and video recordings during live performances.

There is a legal aspect, of course. The school does not have license for any recording or sharing of those recordings. Any school found in violation could be subject to legal action. It could be difficult to get the rights to perform future productions. But her point was far deeper than the legal considerations.

She talked about mindfulness and of the joy of live theatre being completely in the moment. The students have worked so long to get to that point, and they are pouring their all into that particular performance. It is our gift to them to be fully present in that moment, and to receive that gift. Holding up electronic devices to “capture” that moment changes and dilutes that gift. It also (negatively) affects the experience of those around you in the theater.

There are many times in life these days when we can switch on a device and consume electronic content such as Netflix, she said. Live theatre is different. As often as we bemoan how our teens are glued to their devices, why would we push away a moment of pure experience by insisting on documenting it electronically? We must be the example for our children that there are some things so important in life that we will not diminish them with phones and iPads and video cameras.

If you want to keep this performance forever, she suggested, come see the play four times and keep it forever in your heart. It is not our right as parents to make a video record of our children’s lives. It is our right, no, our privilege, to be there. To be present.

I don’t know how many times she has given this speech. I do know that, by the time she had finished, I wished that I had recorded the whole thing so I could share it with the world. But that would have been missing the point.

I’ll just have to carry it in my heart.

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