Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram…work and social life have merged into one big hashtag. Where are the essential conversations that bring us closer together happening today? Generations ago, those talks took place around the dining room table. Few of today’s teens eat dinner with their family every night.
An ancient art form - live theatre - examines these modern questions in The Dining Room,, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play by A.R. Gurney at Saint Gertrude High School April 15-17. The show portrays a variety of family interactions through the past fifty years.
Director Happy Mahaney chose this play because he’s seen the effect of social media in his own life. After living in Los Angeles for thirteen years, Mahaney chose to deactivate his Facebook account when he returned to Richmond last year. This play makes him think deeply about that decision. “I was very unaware of how disconnected I actually was, zooming through my Facebook feed every day. Now that I am not on social media, I find my brain less worked up about keeping up with the rest of my ‘friends,’” says Mahaney.
Fear of missing out, or FoMO, is a new phenomenon that is wreaking havoc on adolescent insecurities. Checking that news feed creates an anxiety about missed opportunities, and leads to angst about having made the wrong decision on how to spend time. Disconnecting from technology restores some balance, and offers the chance to create unique personal memories.
As part of the audition process, Mahaney asked each student to tell about a memory that centered on the dining room table. The stories ranged from heartwarming to sad. Cast members were videotaped giving their answers, and the video will be part of the pre-show experience.
Mahaney hopes the audience will think about what they may be missing around the table. He says, “Let’s save the dining room and get back to a time and place where our eyes, ears, and voices were seen, heard, and most importantly, connected.”
Coincidentally, Saint Gertrude recently hosted the annual GatorGourmet, a wonderful gathering of 25 great restaurants providing samples of their famous dishes. Numerous parents, faculty and staff, alumnae, neighbors and friends of Saint Gertrude gathered to enjoy the food.
Come back to SGHS Friday through Sunday for some food for thought.
The Dining Room at Saint Gertrude High School will be open April 15 and 16 at 7:30 pm and April 17 at 2 pm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for info.