Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Power of Art (This will make you cry, unless you have a heart of stone.)

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Yesterday a friend shared the performance report from the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis. I had been having a pretty rough day, and this account of the performance changed my entire attitude. I was awe-struck.

If you can't read the above text, here's what it says:

It was generally agreed by all that the show was “kind of rough” (tech wise). But after the show we learned that there was a 5 year old autistic child in the house. He had never spoken. But as the lights went down, he began to talk. In full sentences. He called the teacher by name. She had no idea he even knew her name. He was engaged in the show – at one point commenting to the teacher that if there is a dragon then there will be fire. And there was fire. He talked all throughout the show. When the lights came back up – he quit talking and returned to his world. So, yes, I could list all the little things that wrong today but that is not what this show is about. And that little boy certainly didn’t see those things as he sat talking in the dark theatre watching Harold and his Purple Crayon.

This. This. This is why art matters. Art reaches into those hidden places places inside of us. Art speaks in a language that doesn't even have words. Art touches the unknowable. Art inspires dialog. Art creates something, when at times people thought there was nothing at all.

Can you imagine? Five years old, and never having spoken? Five years of nothing, and then complete sentences.

I only wish his parents had been with him at the performance. And I really, really hope that someone buys this family season tickets to the theater.

The next time that someone suggests that the arts are unnecessary "extras" in our society, I want you to think of this particular five-year-old child and the power that the arts can have.

13 comments:

V said...

This story is so lovely I am compelled to comment. I definitely will remember this when anyone talks down the arts.

Kathy M said...

Nice! Thank you for passing this story on to us. It makes me feel happy about supporting the arts.

Nataline said...

Wonderful story. Makes me want to leave my office and run to the theatre right now!!

Barby said...

Lisa, A friend sent me that posting because my son is autistic, although, happily, quite verbal. As theatre artists, it is very difficult for my husband and I because our son is very frightened of the theatre. He will help at strike, but NEVER goes to a show - all those people who laughing, and clapping. It is all unexpected and very scary. We are now trying to get him involved in building the sets at his High School - maybe, just maybe, if he has created something himself, he will want to go in and see the show!
What we do does matter to so many people. I love teaching my theatre Appreciation class and listening to the responses of the students who have never been to a live show before. Truly life changing.
keep up the good work!

lucky day said...

I am a retired special ed teacher who taught her fair share of autistic preschoolers in a class filled with the arts: tactile, music, drama, magic, photography woven all through the day and had excellent results getting kids to talk and learn...I am passing this on to those who need the boost to do art in their classrooms.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Barby -- I was particularly thinking of you guys when I wrote this.

It's funny, and mysterious, and wonderous what "works" for one person, and doesn't for another.

zippiknits said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. It just so beautiful.

And yes, Art is vital. It is of the greatest importance, visceral even; from the very beginning humans used their skills of communication to create art for the pleasure of sharing something beautiful. Written language started with pictures on the cave walls or drawn in the dust or carved on something.

gollygee said...

So awesome. They should give the kid a job at the theatre so he can hang out there all the time!!!

Noreen said...

This sent chills through me as I read it. Thanks so much for posting it.

Eliza @ Appalachian Feet said...

Thanks for this! This week my daughter applied to our least-funded high school magnet program (the Fine Arts Center). Lucky for the FAC that there are citizens willing to donate money since it isn't the state's priority at all.

Kaaren said...

*love*

Anonymous said...

I didn't cry.

T.M. MD said...

Anon-- Listen very carefully. You must see a lithocardiologist immediately. You may have a serious undiagnosed condition.

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