This morning we went to see a show at the Grips theater, a theater intended for children. We waded through elementary schoolers on our way to our seats, and I was braced for the worst. The people came on stage and the beginning proved to be just as juvenile as I expected. The acting was pretty exaggerated and the humor was juvenile, so I immediately expected the whole thing to be like a kids' show.
In places, I was right, there was some pretty basic humor, but it also incorporated a lot of very mature ideas. It was about water in the world, and how many people get sick and die because they don't have access to clean water. It challenged kids to question, challenge, and even disobey authority figures. They were encouraged to protest and come up with ideas to fix the problem. They were shown pictures of people dying, and, for a large portion of the show, there was a count of how many people had died due to sickness from unclean water just during the play.
This is the last thing that I would expect for children's theater. In the USA, we try to shelter kids, and not have them think about the harsh realities of the world, but here their teachers bring them to see these shows and make them conscious of the world's problems and prepare them to find solutions to them. It was really astounding to me to see these elementary schoolers brought to the theater to watch a play that talks about the consequences of consumerism and pollution on the populations of countries that don't often even get thought of.
While it didn't really present all the details of the situation, it did get everyone thinking about the situation and how they might be contributing to the problem. It was really refreshing to see something that wasn't the typical diluted disney story given to children. This piece shows that kids can be treated as real people who think and can handle hearing that there's a problem. It's a lesson that Americans should take in the way they handle their own kids.