After scrolling through blog posts in hopes to find some inspiration to write, I came across Mikhayla‘s, where she mentioned the quote, “the last thing American theatre needs is another lame play” which came from Suzan-Lori Parks’, The American Play. Mikhalya mentioned how in her high school English classes, for the theatre portion of the class, she “did the stereotypical thing and read a Shakespeare play for every year of high school.“ I can definitely relate to Mikhayla because I became frustrated with constantly reading Shakespeare and never getting any exposure to any other writers. Since I want to be a teacher in the future, I want to make sure to provide my students with several types of texts from different writers so, they are not left with a single story.
I am currently taking THEA 100 with Professor Boucher, where we are constantly discussing different types of plays. Professor Boucher explained in class one day, that the reason why he gave us no assigned Shakespeare readings, is simply because he wanted to give us the opportunity to read other works that we were not exposed to in high school. He went on to say how Shakespeare is most commonly taught in high school because it is in the literary canon. For those of you who may not know, the term literary canon “refers to a body of books, narratives and other texts considered to be the most important and influential of a particular time period or place.“ There are many flaws with the literary canon. The problem with teaching only classics stories is that they are “overwhelmingly told from a white and/or male perspective, and more needs to be done to diversify that.“ This problem can be tied into Chimamanda Ngozi‘s “The Danger of a Single Story” as well as the problem of the lack of diversity we see in children‘s books in schools, which I have mentioned in previous blog posts.
Susan-Lori Parks challenges conventional theatre. Parks makes it her goal to free “her story from stereotypes and routine expectations. Unlike today’s safe theater her plays are out of your control.“ Parks “uses slightly unconventional theatrical elements” to destabilize the stage picture and emancipate actors from conventional choices.” Similar to how Parks challenges conventional theatre, we should challenge the literary canon.
Looking at this through one of the course epigraphs, “My job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice” by Dionne Brand , I believe this can be applied to teaching. It is our job as teachers to notice the problems with the literary canon, if we do not notice this problem, there will be nothing we can do to change it. The first step is to notice, the next step is to create a classroom that includes a variety of different texts so, we can eliminate a single story.