Director's Monthly Memo
The BHS Drama Society spring musical is an all-female adaptation of the Tony winning musical 1776. It is a contemporary take on the musical retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.
The plot: Colonial representatives gather in Philadelphia with the aim of establishing a set of governmental rules for the burgeoning United States. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams charge Thomas Jefferson with the work of writing a statement announcing the new country's emancipation from British rule.
The casting of women as our country’s founding fathers brings to light untold issues about our nation’s history and present circumstances. Seeing a group of ethnically diverse women intimately involved in the types of discussions they have been kept out of for so long adds resonance to an already affective book. This nontraditional spin on the musical connects women to a legacy of American idealism and freedom from which we have too often been disenfranchised.
If the Continental Congress were formed today, there would undoubtedly be female and minority members. An inclusive society is roughly what the Founding Fathers desired with the launch of the Declaration of Independence (although they did not emancipate slaves or women at that moment). And while we’ve made gains in civil rights and equality, it can’t be said that we have reached the ideals of equality as set forth in America’s Founding Documents. In the current 115th Congress out of 100 senators, only 22 are women, and out of 435 representatives, 85 (19%) are women. Consider the gender gap in salaries, the lack of women in CEO positions, health insurance issues (traditionally a female concern) and the disparate number of women in technology and science. How might these numbers be different if women had been represented in the Continental Congress? What issues would have been at the cornerstone of the founding of our country? Would the United States be markedly different today?
In light of how far women have come and how far we have to go, presenting an all-female version of 1776 is an exciting opportunity. One of the great things about theater is that musicals can help us see the world from a different viewpoint, and that new perspective may in turn allow us to make practical changes. Taking the story of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a story that is familiar and very traditionally associated with a certain group of powerful men, and opening it up to include women creates a space to think about and talk about how women fit into the vision expressed in the text and the history of 1776. By casting women in these iconic roles, the musical becomes a link between what America is and what it aspires to be.
Have a wonderful month!
Timothy Craig, Director of Fine & Performing Arts & Business Education
Director of Art, Music, Drama and Buisness Education
Bayonne Public Schools
FINE & PERFORMING ARTS
Fine and Performing Arts Department Mission Statement
The mission of the Bayonne High School Fine & Performing Arts Department is to cultivate student growth in visual art, dance, music, and theater in a supportive and challenging environment that fosters creativity and innovation. These opportunities will serve to guide and prepare all students to think critically, recognize and appreciate art in all forms, work collaboratively with others, and demonstrate leadership capacity in the 21st century. Motivated arts students will build a strong foundation in preparation for college and career opportunities in the Fine and Performing Arts.
Fine and Performing Arts Department Goals:
- Develop a knowledge base of the Fine and Performing Arts.
- Appreciate the aesthetic and expressive value of the Fine and Performing Arts in their historical, cultural, and social contexts.
- Develop an understanding of methods, materials, techniques and styles.
- Increase comprehension and awareness in the Fine and Performing Arts through problem-solving, critical analysis, and communication.
The Bayonne Fine and Performing Arts Department includes visual art, music, theater, and dance and seeks to celebrate creativity in all students. Through study, interpretation and execution, students who enroll in courses in the Fine and Performing Arts Department will not only explore the pedagogy of each discipline, but also gain a deeper appreciation of the value of the fine and applied arts in the 21st century global community.