Leaning sideways. Stretching upwards. Climbing on to mom or dad’s lap. Inching up on the folding chair, squatting, and then attempting to perch on the back of the chair before being pulled down by a parent. This is what I was watching several of our first grade students do on Saturday night at the Roycemore Upper School performance of The Little Mermaid. These three students had seats in the back of the room with their parents and were having a hard time seeing the show. They were trying to get a better perspective of the glittery, colorful characters on stage.
Every attendee at the performance had a slightly different perspective of the show, not only depending on where they sat in the room, but also depending on their relationship to the actors and to Roycemore. Proud parents sat in amazement hearing their children sing and act on stage for the first time, recognizing what an incredible accomplishment it was for their child to push beyond their stage fright and sing and act in front of an audience. Their perspective was one of pride as they know their children so well and what a significant undertaking their role was for them. Upper School students enjoyed seeing their classmates dress up in crazy costumes–often with tails and scales. They were offered a unique perspective of a fellow classmate that–on other days–they sat next to in physics or Spanish class. Alumni who had previously performed in Roycemore productions returned to see their former understudies now in starring roles. They viewed the show from the perspective of having been on that stage before–knowing better than the majority of the audience how much work was involved in learning the songs, the lines and the staging.
That is the interesting thing about perspective. It is one of those few things that is very unique and individual to each of us. At the same time, we often forget how unique our perspective is and can easily be drawn into believing that this must be what others are experiencing as well. For the most part, even people who share similar perspectives experience life from their own, different point of view. And one of the only ways to understand the perspective of the “other” is to stand in their shoes–or, as with the show, to “sit in their seat.”
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I encourage each of us to try to consider others’ perspectives and to embrace a feeling of gratitude that we each have unique perspectives. For it is truly because of the uniqueness of such perspectives that we have a rich and wonderful life of engagement with the world. We can also embrace the opportunity to change our own perspective. We can do that by seeking to understand, by listening, and even by moving.
At intermission during The Little Mermaid, I approached one of the parents of our first grade students and mentioned that there were some other children who had gone to the front of the room and were sitting on the floor watching the show. I told her that if she was comfortable with her daughter doing that, it might be a great way to support her daughter’s enjoyment of the show. And soon…three of our first grade students were taking in the second half of The Little Mermaid with a whole new perspective!
In partnership for our students,
Adrianne Finley Odell
Head of School