Performing Arts Are Often Overlooked and It’s Not Just La Salle


Avery Marks

La Salle’s performing arts lack the recognition that they deserve.

Avery Marks, Editor

The La Salle arts department is incredibly strong, from the paint on paper artists to those on the stage. The arts also play a prominent role in our community: I’ve heard friends reminisce about how they saw shows put on by the theater department before becoming students and my own cousins who plan on coming to La Salle have attended the shows for years.

Despite the contributions they make to La Salle, I’ve seen an underappreciation of performing arts since my freshman year.

From piquing the interest of future students to fundraising for the entire school, the fine arts are integral to La Salle’s community.

Choir members file into the theater passing posters for this year’s fall and winter shows, “Puffs” and “Clue.” 

At every Open House, the choir performs for prospective students.

During the annual Believe fundraisers, the choir performs.

Not to mention that in 2021, when many students were still completely online, the musical “Spelling Bee” was produced on an outside stage, providing some resemblance to life before COVID-19 and proving how resilient the department is.

However, as a part of the choir and theater department, I see and feel the lack of appreciation.

While announcements for sporting events can be heard over the speakers most mornings, it feels like once in a blue moon that I hear announcements about upcoming theater performances. It feels even more rare that those announcements aren’t  made by those personally involved. Announcements for the arts don’t have the same second nature that sports games have.

One specific day I found myself sitting in Advanced Acting and Production hopefully listening for an audition announcement specifically requested by drama teacher Mr. Michael Sheltonthat didn’t come until the day of auditions. With no central person responsible for morning announcements, announcements regarding theater often slip through the cracks, unless those involved make the announcement themselves.

For example, for Open Mic Night, it was choir teacher Mr. Oscar Wild and Mr. Shelton announcing the event.

Beyond a lack of overhead announcements, fine arts events have been shuffled for the benefits of sports.

Open Mic Night was moved from its original date to ensure that it didn’t overlap with a sporting event. This affected my ability to participate, over an event that I didn’t attend.

Scheduling with the theater productions is a shortcoming of our school. 

From the start of school to opening night, there was barely enough time to prepare for the fall show “Puffs.”

Understanding the time that goes into a show, Mr. Shelton requested that the dates for “Puffs” be moved back one week. This would have given the crew and performers more time to prepare as well as allowing for larger crowds offering their support, even with the two trips that it would have overlaps with.

Unfortunately, this was not the case.

The show was not moved back leading to an overlap of dates with the event capable of posing the most competition — Journey.

This overlap made it much harder for a portion of the La Salle community to attend and forced thespians to choose between theater and the retreat.

This overlap is not a one-time issue.

Until the dates of the February Journey were moved, that Journey overlapped with the winter show’s dates as well, and errors have the power to lessen the support given to the theater department.

Regardless of it being unintentional, scheduling these Journey and theater overlaps illustrate a lack of understanding and importance in regards to theater.

During class, I often hear teachers check in with student athletes, asking about how a game went, how a game was, or how the sport is going in general. 

With the exception of days when theater is mentioned overhead, I can only recall one teacher consistently asking about how theater is going.

When discussing college, “are you going to play in college?” is a question often directed toward student athletes. Teachers, peers, and family seem to echo it. Yet I can’t recall a single time that someone outside of the fine arts has asked a performer or crew member whether or not they intend to continue that interest during their college years. 

Before starting to work on the fall play, the cheer team used the theater’s dressing rooms in place of locker rooms as both actual locker rooms were occupied by visiting football teams. For the cheer team, it was a downgrade from the Saalfield Center locker rooms, but for a theater student, it’s all they’ve ever known.

These dressing rooms, used by the cast of every show, quickly become cramped with everyone doing their makeup, making it more difficult to prepare for shows. 

Additionally, our theater hasn’t seen remodeling during my time at La Salle, with the most recent addition being electrical updates that don’t greatly benefit the students’ education and participation.

Some arm rests fall off the seats, one of which is broken and doesn’t spring back up on its own. This is problematic, as the theater is one of the most used spaces in the school.

The La Salle stage is home to Open House performances, shows for students and faculty to attend, and several school meetings. 

Every student has been in the theater. Can the same be said about the locker rooms? The weight room?

Even though the theater is more widely used, it’s the weight room and locker rooms that are in better condition.

However, while this needs to be addressed at La Salle, this is not only a Lasallian problem. It’s an under-appreciation throughout our society that needs to be addressed.

Oftentimes we can look to the media that we consume to gain an understanding of how people view things in their day-to-day lives.

The movies we watch are an example of where we can see an uneven balance between sports and performing arts coverage.

On IMDB, a database mainly known for its information on movie and TV series, searching “high school sports” yielded 160 responses while “high school theater” had 77 results. Meanwhile, “sports” on its own had 83 results and “theater” alone had 22.

Even the media we consume seems to put sports on a pedestal with fine arts on the side. Off the top of my head, it’s hard to recall movie franchises about theater. The most popular of these is “High School Musical,” which shares the stage with basketball, and none about choir or band.

This isn’t to say movies highlighting these extracurriculars aren’t out there, just that they lack the prevalence we see with cheer, football, and other athletic endeavors.

The media we consume shapes our view of the world. When the media we consume doesn’t showcase theater, can the blame really be thrown straight at people who have never been shown how to appreciate these extracurriculars?

The best place to expand our views is a place of learning, such as our school. La Salle has an opportunity to shed equal light on the various parts of our community and live up to the banner of “inclusive community” — which encourages showcasing the pursuits of all individuals.

It is time to put an end to the hierarchy of extracurriculars. Of course it’s important to cheer during games and congratulate our athletes after wins but we need to remember that they aren’t the only ones representing La Salle’s talents. 

Consider going to a swim meet one week, a band performance the next, and a matinee performance after that.