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Interesting. I once taught a Greek comedy to a class of juvenile delinquents. The characters were pretty basic, as was the comedy (slapstick and a lot of foolish behavior by people who were supposed to know better), but they identified the motivators as quickly as if they'd stuidied the play for years (Aristophenes' The Birds). They understood fairly complex emotions as long as they were negative (greed, self-preservation, group power dynamics, and autocracy) and saw what was funny about them immediately.

It was such a success that I tried using the same play in a class full of "normal" suburban kids. Not to put too fine a point on it, they didn't have a clue. They didn't understand the dynamics or why any of the characters was doing what he was doing. It was all a big mystery to them.

Maybe that's a good thing. I could never decide. Altho after seeing how many similarly clueless people voted twice for George Bush, I have to wonder even more.

MARK! You haven't left yet.

I'm glad you commented here. I thought of you when I was listening to the episode b/c I know some about your background in theater. I wondered if you had ever taught a similar group and had the same sort of experiences with them.

MARK! You haven't left yet.

No, Dorothy. There's been a slight delay. Might not leave until tomorrow.

I wondered if you had ever taught a similar group and had the same sort of experiences with them.

It's not unusual, actually. Years ago, Studs Terkel described the difference between 2 audiences to Sam Beckett's Waiting for Godot. One was made up of near illiterate prisoners and sharecroppers in the South, and they got it immediately, roaring with laughter. The other was Upper East Side NY intellectuals. They were baffled. As Studs explained it:

"The sharecroppers and prisoners knew what it was like to wait, maybe for your whole life, for something to happen. The New Yorkers had never had to wait for anything. Ever."

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