In rehearsal we have discussed how Gordon weaponizes his “lack-of-power”. He doesn’t know how to do anything, he doesn’t have control over anything, it’s not his fault. A man who uses this excuse has been branded by the media as “The Bumbling Man”
In 2016, in the midst of the Weinstein scandal, Lili Loofbourow published an article “The myth of the male bumbler” – she described them as “wide-eyed and perennially confused”
The world baffles the bumbler. He’s astonished to discover that he had power over anyone at all, let alone that he was perceived as using it. What power? he says.Who, me?
The bumbler is bad at his job, bad at menial tasks, so unaware of the world around them that they are not responsible for the fallout of anything that they were responsible for or anything they did.
There’s a reason for this plague of know-nothings: The bumbler’s perpetual amazement exonerates him. Incompetence is less damaging than malice. And men — particularly powerful men — use that loophole like corporations use off-shore accounts. The bumbler takes one of our culture’s most muscular myths — that men are clueless — and weaponizes it into an alibi.
The result of the bumbler at it’s best is that those around him have to pick up the slack (take over organizing office parties, change a diaper, feed the baby) – at it’s worst, the bumbling man uses his personality to get out sexual assault, contact with Russian agents, or complicity.
KYLE: It’s a peculiar feeling, this kind of love, Gordon. You have the ability. Everything, all of it, is made up of people. With you at the top. It. Functions through: people That make it work and go and people can stop it, when it is not working. For everyone, and say This is not good. This can be different. And better. Gordon, you can do this.
MICHAEL: Join us. Our own Haitian Revolution up in here. TOUSSAINT.
Toussaint is known as the Black Napolean, he took charge during the slave revolt in Haiti turning it into the Haitian Revolution against the French. “He helped transform the slave insurgency into a revolutionary movement. By 1800 Saint-Domingue, the most prosperous French slave colony of the time, had become the first free colonial society to have explicitly rejected race as the basis of social ranking.” (wikipedia)
MICHAEL: My point. What I heard was, is: That when people share food. It creates. It builds.
MICHAEL: They need a meal. It’s important to share. Baby monkeys share their meals. BABY MONKEYS
pg 23 + 26
In rehearsal we have talked about how Michael’s views have changed since the Anne meeting. He believes in the greater mission of the school and wants to save it. Him bringing up baby monkeys is a sign of this.
He is referencing an NPR article of which they are some: – Apes Have Food, Will Share For A Social Payoff Bonobos will share their food but only if it involves social interaction and will prefer social interaction with a new bonobo over someone they know. They will not share food if 0 interaction is involved. – What’s Mine Is Yours, Sort Of: Bonobos And The Tricky Evolutionary Roots Of Sharing Bonobos will share food but won’t share tools. If someone is reaching for a tool but can’t reach it, some chimpanzees will hand off the tool(including young ones) but Bonobos won’t. – Why Do You Care About Fairness? Ask A Chimp If chimps do a task and receive a reward they will become upset if another chimp who did the same task receives a smaller or less worthy reward. Sometimes the chimp that received the better reward will throw it away, other times the one with the lesser reward will kick up a fuzz.
What’s interesting about all these articles is that all authors frame “sharing” as an innately human trait that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Implying that not-sharing, hoarding, not having equity is an animalistic trait. In our play, the breakdown of civility and “calm” occurs when people are no longer willing to share – ideas, food, education.
Christine: You know what it is: you know what it is: you want to know what it is: I believe in volcanoes. I do believe in Vesuvius. You know what I do not believe in? Soccer. Basketball. Motherfucking football. If one more person brings a uniform around my kid
pg 110 ATHENA/REEL THREE
Christine is very persistent that she does not want her son to participate in sports – and as the mother of a black boy she has good reason. In 2018 a study by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center concluded that black men are being exploited in the name of college athletics – “Of the 65 universities studied, black men comprised 2.4 percent of all undergraduates but 55 percent of football team members and 56 percent of basketball team members “
To make this disparity worse graduation rates are lower for black male athletes and have been dropping every year. Author and ex-footballer Martellus Bennett cites this study in an article he wrote for The Washington Post Beyond the game: We teach black boys sports are their only hope. What if we let them dream bigger? Martellus talks about the larger cultural implications these stats contextualize – that so many black boys and communities see sports as the only path to success, a path out of poverty.
Sports, he says, creates a hierarchy of how students are viewed in the neighborhood and how the neighborhood chooses to uplift the student. -Athletes are overly celebrated in communities at the cost of academics, arts, technology. Football coaches discourage exploration of anything else. When “only 8 out of every 10,000 high school football players get drafted by an NFL team” this means that these communities that have been set up around black boys are setting them up to fail.
Christine: If one more person brings a uniform around my kid Instead of a pencil or a paintbrush or 3D printer I swear to God. My son’s voice is loud here. And nobody says stop that. Or sit out. Or man up. He is: he is: he is allowed to be.
pg 110 ATHENA/REEL THREE
Not only economically but in the long term we know that football causes irreparable damage to the brain. According to NPR “A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, published in 2017, showed that in a study of 111 brains of deceased former National Football League players, 110 had evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE has been linked with repeated blows to the head, and can result in behavioral changes and cognitive decline.” Despite the known risks, low-income students think that the chance of getting rich in the NFL, or a scholarship to high school or college is worth it. (NPR)
Christine wants her son to have nothing to do with this culture and risks.
Fun quotes: “Given the formidable revenue generating force of college athletics—especially football and basketball—these figures strongly suggest racial exploitation, the kind whereby black men are used primarily for their athletic skills to generate income for universities that educate mostly white graduates for successful careers.” Are universities exploiting black male athletes in order to raise revenues?
“It’s a luxury to worry about these long-term, sort of abstract damages to these kids and their parents,” Samaha said. “The risks are all around them — the risks of not going to high school, the risks of not making it into college, or the risks of of falling into kind of the street path that they’d seen other people around them fall into.” Football is their ticket out. But Samaha argues that America needs to reckon with the broader ethical implications of the sport. “America’s dual commitments to football and racial oppression have meant that the danger of the sport will increasingly fall on the shoulders of low income black and brown kids,” Samaha said. Meanwhile, he says, the money from the sport is mainly going to white coaches and white owners. Poor students more likely to play football, despite brain injury concerns
There is no one person to blame in the downfall of Gleason but we can point to certain “strategies” in management that certainly didn’t help. Many times throughout the play there is mention of excess, that leads to waste, that we can assume then leads to a deficit for the school the ultimately causes it to close. The baccarat crystal, alpacas and lobster are some examples of this.
Marie Antoinette was an Austrian queen who was married to the French King Louis XVI. She is famously known for the quote “let them eat cake” and she is used as a symbol for excess, indulgence, and a doomed bourgeoisie. She was executed during the French revolution for the crime of “treason”.
We see her directly referenced twice in the play when Isa is talking to Kyle about their raise. Isa brings up Marie Antoinette to tell Kyle to embody the spirit of excess – she wants Kyle believe that they are worthy of “riches”.
ISA: At your summer review. Gordon should have offered. KYLE: I think I’d actually’d love a burger. ISA: You should just ask him. If they are gonna act like this is the Palace of Versailles… Then Marie Antoinette your inner self—
KYLE: It’s fine, it’s totally fine. They keep— ISA: Nodon’ttaketheirscrapsYouareMarieAntoinettewhatiswrongwithyou? Kyle. KYLE: It’s just bread. It’s just bread. Shift and KYLE seems isolated and ISA does not seem to hear Their. AlthoughIameyeingrottingfoodlikeit’sbeingservedtomeonasilverplatter. AlthoughIameyeingrottingfoodwhenitistimeIgotupfromthetable. Shift and KYLE and ISA are back on the same plane. It is just bread. It is just bread. It is just bread—
Kyle’s line of “it is just bread” is a meaningful (maybe intentional) reference to the quote “let them eat cake” that is attributed to Marie Antoinette but in French does translate more directly to “let them eat bread”
From wikipedia: ” ‘Let them eat cake’ is the traditional translation of the French phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“, supposedly spoken by “a great princess” upon learning that the peasants had no bread. Since brioche was a luxury bread enriched with butter and eggs, the quotation would reflect the princess’s disregard for the peasants, or her poor understanding of their situation.”
With each “It is just bread” that Kyle says, the gap between the extravagance of Gleason and Kyle widens.
In the same scene the Palace of Versailles is referenced to. The Palace of Versailles is where Marie Antoinette lived and is the ultimate symbol of waste. “As the most imitated building of 17th century, Versailles stood for power, wealth, sex and scandal….” [Five ways Versailles has influenced pop culture today]. Versailles started off as a simple hunting lodge for King Louis XIII
Versailles, which is capable of holding up to 20,000 people, has 700 rooms, more than 2,000 windows, 1,250 chimneys, and 67 staircases… Up to 3,000 princes, courtesans, ministers, and servants lived there at any given time. Palace inhabitants coveted spaces nearest the king’s apartments, as this proximity offered status. ….
While Versailles’ extravagance is dreamlike, keeping it running was a financial nightmare. Some estimates say that maintaining the palace, including caring for and feeding the Royal Family and their massive staff, consumed anywhere from 6-25% of the entire French government income.
Actual building costs for Versailles are debated by modern historians, because currency values are uncertain. However, Versailles’ price tag ranges anywhere from two billion dollars (in 1994 USD) all the way up to a maximum cost of $299,520,000,000! The palace represented an extravagance that presented a stark contrast to the working class in France. (Source)
The extravagance of Versailles caused tension amongst the different classes in France – much like the extravagance of the Gleason Street School gala leads to tension between the teachers, rich parents, poor parents, parents of color. Ultimately the french revolt and kill Marie Antoinette but they continue to pay for the upkeep of Versailles.
Built by dismantlingracism.org who offered organizations support in creating anti-racist movements in their environments. Through their years of doing this work they created a list of characteristics of white supremacy that show up in our culture and harm us.
Highly recommend reading the whole document.
White Supremacy Culture The above link has details on the following characteristics as well as their “antidotes” – Perfectionism – Sense of Urgency – Defensiveness – Quantity Over Quality – Worship of the Written Word – Paternalism – Either/Or Thinking – Power Hoarding – Fear of Open Conflict – Individualism – Progress is Bigger, More – Objectivity – Right to Comfort
Think about these different characteristics and how we are harmed or helped by these characteristics.