One of the true sorrows of my life right now is the fact that Singers rehearsal has interfered with my discovery of “Glee” until this point. For the last 3 weeks, I’ve been able to watch the show as it airs live, and enjoy every corny, delicious minute of it. It WRECKS ME every week. (The duet between Lea Michelle and Idina Menzel?! Goosebumps. Tears. AMAZING.)(I saw Idina on Broadway during her run in “Wicked.” I cried through most of the first half of the show, her presence had that great an impact on me.)
Even Army Boy isn’t immune to its charms. He loves the snarky humor and the presence of Jane Lynch stalking around like Jaws in a tracksuit. He chuckles pre-emptively whenever Brittany opens her mouth to speak. He sat with his jaw hanging open at the completely amazing “Dream On” duet this past episode.
Some people who do recaps for the show point out that some of the weekly conflict has gotten repetitious- each week, someone steps in and tries to sabotage the Glee Club. Usually it’s Sue Sylvester, armed with hair jokes and blackmail. This week it was Bryan Ryan (HA!), a jaded former singer who didn’t quite make it. Each villain has their own reason for wanting the Glee Club disbanded.
It may seem repetitious, but it’s not in any way an exaggeration.
Last night at practice, as we alumni sat around cracking jokes and comparing the bandz the students had decorated us with, The Director pulled us aside quietly and scribbled two numbers on his program.
“The School Board just voted on the activities budget for the next school year,” he confided. “I don’t want the kids to hear this… it’s better that they don’t know.”
He pointed to the “$22,000.”
“That is what the girl’s soccer coaches get to split in their pay for the fall season.”
He pointed to the “$820.”
“That is what I get for directing the middle school play.”
We all sat there, unable to wrap our minds around it. Four soccer coaches, splitting the duties of running a team for three months, each get $5,500 added to their yearly pay.
One Director, taking on the duties of casting, set design, blocking and two months of nightly rehearsals BY HIMSELF. Less than one thousand dollars.
Why???? On what planet is that a remotely fair division of the school district’s funds? And what does that say about how the district values sports teams versus the arts?
It says a hell of a lot, actually. The Director would do the play regardless of pay, because it’s what he loves. He’s an educator, and seeing students (like myself, a billion years ago) grasp that spark that performing can give people is ridiculously satisfying. I see it in his students now. They shine.
But to say that what he does is worth that much less than what a coach does? That preparing a group of students for a game, running drills with them and teaching them strategy is worth thousands of dollars more than teaching lines and blocking and preparing a show?
In my mind, the two are THE SAME THING.
Game = Show.
Team = Cast.
Plays = Blocking. Choreography. Monologues.
If a player drops the ball or misses a catch, her teammates are there to pick up the slack and save the play. If an actor misses a line, his fellow cast members cover for him getting the show back on track.
(Ok no. In my mind, the theater is worth far more. I played sports. I hated it. My time on the stage had value without limit.)
It’s not about compensation. It’s about worth. The statement that this school board is making about the worth of sports teams versus the worth of another extracurricular activity that takes as much effort and time.
On “Glee” this week, Neil Patrick Harris and Jane Lynch had a brilliant scene where they compared the proven benefits of both music and sports. Something tells me the board meeting where this completely lopsided and unfair budget was decided didn’t culminate in anger sex. Where is the person on the board who speaks up for the value of the arts, and the ridiculous inequality of the situation?
Even looking at this from a standpoint of exposure for the school, sports teams no longer hold the weight that they may have in the past. The arts and music are being recognized in district and statewide ways even more frequently than when I was a student less than 10 years ago. There is an event called “The Apollo Awards,” focusing on recognizing great dramatic and musical performances throughout the area for the past year.
You’d think that in an age where we consider ourselves “more enlightened” and more open to the value of a balanced education, the “Sports are King” mentality would have been ditched. Unfortunately, there are some places that haven’t caught on yet.
That’s why some of the main conflict of “Glee” isnt’ repetitious- It’s a real issue, facing real teachers, and isn’t actually funny at all.