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The Other High School At Mike Daisey's Show

Posted by Geoff Edgers  April 26, 2007 12:06 AM

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Today's story offers the latest on the Mike Daisey incident at the American Repertory Theatre.

But there's more.

Throughout chaperone-gate, the American Repertory Theatre has repeated the fact that another high school group attended the very same performance that sparked the Norco High walk-out. And those kids not only stayed, they took part in a post-show discussion with storyteller Mike Daisey.

This, I assume, is to make the point that hey, Daisey's "Invincible Summer" wasn't too naughty for them, so why should it have sparked the Norco freak-out.

So I called Mike Walczak, the Brooks School teacher who brought his class to the ART the very same night. From what Walczak told me, there are some distinctions to make between the two groups.

The Norco kids attend a public school. They are between 15 and 17 years old, meaning some are high school sophomores. Brooks is a private school. The 22 kids from Brooks are part of Walczak's senior seminar.

The Brooks students have been visiting local theaters as part of a theater and performance class. So far, the group has seen plays at the Huntington, Boston Theatre Works and plans to also attend a SpeakEasy Stage Company production.

When the Norco group walked out, Walczak said, "some of my kids thought it was planned, and some of them thought it was really happening and were completely shocked. I knew it was real. It was pretty disruptive and pretty inappropriate to the actor and the whole company. For me, it became a great teachable moment because it raises a question of when you go to the American Rep., what do you expect to see?"

Walczak said he wasn't comfortable judging whether the Norco group was right, or wrong, for leaving. But of the adults who bought tickets to the ART...

"I would never take a group of kids to something I didnít know about, only because Iím a firm believer that, at this level, if youíre teaching theater or drama you need a context to pin it into."

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Mike Daisey

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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