Tuesday, June 1, 2010

outdoors and internets

In fourth grade, I got the lead role in the school play and was real jazzed about it. I approached the part quite studiously, highlighting my lines and forcing my little brother to test me on them all the time, telling my mom I was so over karate and rollerblading and just wanted to act (I think this is also how Peter Sarsgaard got his start). The play was called "Outdoors and Internets" and it was this original work by our drama teacher about a guy and a girl who met on the internet and IMed a whole bunch. The first two-thirds of the play literally just had me and Blair (the lead girl) sitting in chairs on opposite sides of the stage, what we said out loud representing whatever it was we were typing to each other. I think our characters fell in love at the end of the play, but it also could have just been that we needed to solve a mystery or something.

Anyway, I find myself thinking about this play A LOT. Sometimes, I guess, it comes up when I'm regaling someone with the tale of how I used to fancy myself an actor (which generally leads to my asking if they want to see a video of me in 8th grade playing a 70-year old man - they gave me a cane and ascot but didn't dye my hair gray - followed by the other person finding a polite way to say "Um, I'd actually rather alphabetize my text messages" or whatever).

But I actually think the reason the play remains one of those memories that just can't be shaken is that it was so egregiously ahead of its time! I mean, it was the mid-nineties then! No one knew a thang 'bout the internet: it was like the first season of 'Lost' when they were just awe-struck by polar bears and trying to find fruit. If we were even "online" then in any capacity, it was solely to check our AOL mail for five minutes before our dad yelled at us to get off the computer... maybe we were allowed to visit Ask Jeeves if it was a "homework emergency." Our drama teacher might as well have asked Blair and I to talk in Shakespearean English: "where r u?" was basically just as foreign to us as "where art thou?" "ROTFL" was nothing but a meaningless string of letters. I mean, I wish I could remember what the dialogue in this play actually was like, given that there wasn't any commonly understood internet vocabulary then. Like Britney's "I'm a Slave 4 U" (released five years too early) or Monica Lewinsky (who, nowadays, would have been able to land a "Betrayed by Bill" Us Weekly cover and "Dancing with the Stars" spot), "Outdoors and Internets" was tragically ahead of its time... undoubtedly going right over the heads of us fourth graders, our clueless parents and even the thirty-something Mr. Schue-esque "cool teachers." Hopefully my drama teacher, whatever he ended up doing, managed to eventually pull off his "Toxic."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Complete sidetrack but: Monica Lewinsky on DWTS=brilliant. Add a newly single Al into the mix, and I would so watch.