Sunday, August 22, 2010

Never Too Young For Cultcha

I took my five-and-half-year-olds to see Shakespeare yesterday. 

It was family-friendly Shakespeare -- THE TAMING OF THE SHREW trimmed to about an hour's length, performed outdoors under the trees, with rock n' roll, acrobatics, and juggling interspersed; characters with mohawks and dyed pink hair; entrances and exits made on skateboards and bicycles built for two.  But it was still Shakespeare:  the dialogue, monologues, characters, story, all his, and pretty much intact despite the cuts.  (Thank you, Actors' Gang, who've dubbed this particular production of their annual Shakespeare for Families series "Katie the Curst.")

It was a small deposit in the kids' "cultcha" bank account ("cultcha" is what my Brooklyn-born, Manhattan dwelling parents thrived on).
The "cultha" account is something I feed with montly or so trips to museums, concerts, etc., as a hedge against my kids ever growing up to be the sort of people who attend five colleges in six years, can't name a book they've read recently, and make up words like "refudiate."  It's an attempt to assure they don't turn into fans of such people either -- anti-intellectuals, anti-East and West Coast, anti-anything that smacks of "book learnin'."

The kids loved the Shakespeare.

Of course, the popcorn, lemonade, bean bag tossing for prizes, and free popsicles at the play's end didn't hurt.

But the fascination with what the actors were doing, the laughter at the slapstick, the excitement and joy at the dancing, the music, and the ability to actually follow at least the basics of the story, even though it was performed in the kind of English people spoke in the late 1500s, was genuine.

Thing 2 even said, the minute it was over, "Can we see it again?"

The "cultcha" thing seems to be working for them.  They haven't met a museum they haven't loved (well, with the exception of the dark rooms at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, full of diaromas of dead animals that are honestly just plain creepy at any age).  They have enjoyed puppet shows and hands-on science-based exhibits, interactive kid-friendly play areas in children's museums, sculpture gardens, live performances by dance troops, acrobats, and every kind of musical ensemble.

Am I raising them to be elitist? 

You betcha.

Though I have to make one confession:  after the Shakespeare, we made another stop.  Target.

Yes, I live in that America too.

All in all, it was a great day -- for them, for me, and for that male white playwright who's been dead since 1616, but whose words still ring true.  And that is something that cannot be refudiated.


Anonymous said...

must begin campaign to make refudiate a word.

William V. Madison said...

I knew I liked those two kids; they're my kind of people.