Review: Keep Calm and #ashtag

Play: Keep Calm and #ashtag

I liked the play and its energy, the actors did a great job. I liked how the narratives were woven and interlocked into each others in a way that made the horror of your life being played out in a public portal more real and gritty.

As I sat watching this,  kept going back to how virtual world is a safe + unsafe (still one goes back to it) refuge and identity for many students.  An easy refuge – from where one develops an identity of who we are in front of a willing audience of those who may be privy and needy to every minute detail of your life as you are open to sharing. Where identity is shaped perhaps on the approving -like or disapproving comments of someone out there.

The part that struck me is that the people who approve or not are easily deceived anyway. (Who says that what we show on a platform is what we are really? Reminded me of Lady Gaga and the essay – LadyGaga and the Remaking of Celebrity Culutre.  So where is the desire to develop an identity from them coming from? This was very interesting for me – that self contentment comes from social approval… a sort of ultimate self deception that really is exhausting.

Another part that I found very evocative was the part about the girl who not just has to confirm to all the demands of society but also has to look pleasant and pleasing about it. It was really moving. I wondered about social media again in this struggle of both young boys and girls and how even their parents / significant others (as I have seen) can be restricted from participating in their real feelings thanks to social media. Am wondering about the balance therefore between safe/unsafe, supportive/supportive and private and public experiences for people.
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I also found the narrative of the boy getting beaten by bully/thugs in the love letter- a little alien to our collective experience, and may be perceived as forced in the story. However, videos and stories going viral are experiences that students face. Instances can be of students taking videos of friends sleeping in not so favourable places, or as newspapers videos that have gone viral are of people in the privacy of changing rooms.

As a teacher I feel that this reaches students in the age range of  16 -18 – students in + 2 classes. Knowing some of the kids I work with, I feel this age group will be very receptive to the play and be a part of a dynamic discussion. Also, while I could see most of the play, I could not catch the bits on the floor because of the seating. Can I suggest a seating change for the audience? I am sure this is nothing big!

Since the play goes through different themes, and ideas it would be good for the play to be tried with a complete resource pack and elicit a consensus from the teachers on what themes they might be open to discussing or not – or the whole thing. Each classroom will have some pertaining issues that may come up and this allows for a preemptive thought on the same from all significant parties involved in the viewing.
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