Monday, September 16, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Student #1: has left a new comment on your post "In Memoriam: Tayneshia Jefferson":

I remember first reading this article a couple of weeks ago and really appreciating this lovely tribute to Tayneshia. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Stage Management Mentoring Project with Tayneshia during the USITT conference in Milwaukee earlier this year. It was so amazing to be able to meet her friends and current and former colleagues from all over the country. That week was when it became clear to me just how much of an impact Tayneshia had made on the personal and professional lives of so many people in our industry. I will never forget the night when she introduced me to all of her friends and was so excited that we were all in one place that she had to take a picture of all of us together. Tayneshia's involvement with USITT has really inspired me and I hope to continue my involvement with the organization, this year and beyond, in her honor. 
Student #2: has left a new comment on your post "Stagehands Union, State Settle Indiana Fair Fines":
It's interesting to see this issue come to light over a year after it happened. I'm glad that the news did not ignore this as its important these issues are not taken lightly and swept under the rug. That being said there is no excuse that this tragic event happened in the first place. In order for this to happen someone did not do their job properly! Whether this was faulty engineering, faulty rigging, or even the wrong management call not to evacuate in time, there really is no excuse for this type of thing to happen. As the people who design and build this kind of stuff we are responsible for making sure EVERYTHING is on point. Managers should be making calls to cancel or evacuate with safety as the number one priority, NOT trying to see that the show goes on! Clearly many things went wrong at the Indiana state fair and I wish the article reported more specifics. Despite this tragedy we can learn from it and I think more training is certainly the way to go in this situation. This is simply the only way to prevent this type of thing from happening again.  
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "MOOCs and the Future of Arts Education":
MOOCs! I think that philosophically MOOCs can be fantastic -- for someone who wants to learn something for the pure joy of learning, this is a perfect opportunity. For more regulated courses for credit…It think there are a lot of problems that need to be worked out. An online course like that just doesn't have the weight that a physically attended course has. You also don't get the same mental stimulation that comes with interacting with others personally in the course. On the other hand, if it's taken seriously it seems like it could be just as effective. It really depends on the student. Making education available to anyone and everyone, for free, is absolutely fantastic. I think it's good to challenge our current educational system and really make people think about what we're doing, what works, and what needs to be done. Arts on a new platform? Definitely something that needs to happen in order to keep up with changing times. Nothing can ever replace meeting with people in person and interacting creatively with one another…but, there are some positive outcomes of living and working in the digital world too. I think a great example is YouTube -- so much amazing art, particularly in entertainment and music, comes out of collaborations on YouTube. One is able to play in a band with folks from all corners of the world, sharing ideas and art, without ever meeting in real life. However, you still need to play music with people in real life -- there's just something there that can't be emulated with technology and it's so important. I think there is huge potential for the arts in MOOCs, but we have to be careful not to loose other facets of it, rather just enhance it with this new platform.

The "flipped classroom" is a fantastic idea. We need to keep trying new things in education, keep pushing, and keep being creative. I love the idea of teachers as partners in learning; I think this has huge potential. I could see this being incredibly effective for all sorts of learners as well -- instead of forcing a child who learns better visually instead of aurally to learn aurally, a child can really learn by the best method for them, creating more effective and productive school time and letting kids just plain learn rather than learn the system. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Study: Poets, Painters, Performers Report High Job...":
The term "artist" is arguably ubiquitous at this point, but it's hard to argue that the pursuit of making your art your life career is one chosen out of passion and the pursuit of happiness, not one of monetary greed and parental piety. Some artists do pursue the industry for fame and fortune, but they'd be foolish if they believed they would undoubtedly succeed in their ventures and base their lives on said premise. Most artists look upon their craft as something that makes them happy. And with the time we spend on our jobs, a happy job will be incredibly important to a happy life. (Ask any of the 8-to-7 guys in their fancy 4x4x4 cubicles over there!) But back to the ubiquity- I think many people can argue that their job is an art in and of itself, whether it's their theatrical devotion or their passion for technological presentation. A guy programming video games is an artist, in a different way from a film actor, but their both contributing their knowledge in a way that they deem is artistic. But they're happy doing what they do, and maybe that's what matters to them.

I'd also argue that happiness can't be measured on a one-dimensional, linear scale. Sure, this guy says he's an 8, but that's dependent on his upbringing and experiences. Perhaps childhoods in the UK for those surveyed were spectacularly artistic, and as adults their lives cannot compare. Maybe the Swiss had the worst, most stressful primary school experiences ever so as adults they found their lives rich and full of happiness. Who knows? (I don't.) Additionally, the article seems to presume that many artists have more of a choice in what they want to do, often meaning they are self-employed. Artistic endeavors are hard to control, so that makes sense, but what about the artists that do work for a large company, with rules and strict deadlines? And what about the IT guys who are freelances and determine their own schedules and duties?  
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Wobbling on the Political Lines (in six inch heels...":
This article pinpoints a very important fact about feminism: it is not a unique, one-mind body of angry, ugly, men-hating, bitter lesbians (that's how the stereotype goes, right?). Feminism is composed of as many facets and aspects as there are women. There are feminists in bikinis and heels and other in hijabs, some in hot pink and others in all black. The article does a great job of explaining how those different factions interact, sometimes with some conflict, but often with the same interests in mind. I find it sad when women are afraid to say that they are feminists because of the nasty connotation associated with the word.

What matters is the actual goal of feminism: establishing equality between men and women in every aspect of our lives. The keyword here is equality. Too often I read articles calling for female superiority; that makes me uncomfortable because they claim to be feminists, when really they are disillusioned and misguided. Making men the enemies of feminism is just about the best way to perpetuate gender inequality. This article focuses on body issues and societal expectations, and there is a lot to be said about that on the men’s side of the picture too, but I won’t go into detail about this right now. All I will say is that men and women must work together to give women a status equal to that of men all over the world as well as to get rid of the unfair societal pressure set upon both genders.

Initiatives like the one described in this article are great; getting young girls to talk about their femininity, sexuality, and the conflict in their lives that stems from those two things is a brave, beautiful endeavor. Theater and the arts in general are the perfect vehicle for crafting and carrying a powerful message like this one.

I think that Edell was wrong and shouldn’t have changed the girls’ costume, but I respect her decision, because I understand that feminism comes in so many different shapes and colors, and if mine isn’t quite like hers, that’s ok. What is important is that the girls took away from the experience a sense of empowerment, of respect for (all) others and greater knowledge about what they like and who they want to be. Because that, to me, is what feminism is about.

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