More from the CAMPUS

Another frustrating day, so another installment from my musical in progress CAMPUS–a Satire of Higher Education in Appalachia. This song is sung by the arch villain of the piece–Mr. Mediocrity. An actor friend  living in Raleigh who did a reading there for me suggested I rename him Governor Mediocrity. I might just do that. Anyway, here it is, folks, me venting my spleen, yet again.

Bread and Circuses

By Katie Winkler

(from the musical CAMPUS)

I consider myself

A student of history

The Romans had power

That’s no mystery

But how did the elite

Keep their society replete

With ignorant masses and slave labor

Don’t forget the gladiators?

How did they keep them from starving

Or stop them from harping

About their miserable condition?

Do you know what the secret is?

I’ll tell you

Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses

They certainly do have their purposes

Everything will be just fine

If you keep them wined and dined

With a little food and relaxation

They’ll be ripe for some taxation

So give them

Bread and Circuses

Just not too much

I consider myself

A student of psychology

I sure know my way

Around society

Just a few things that they need

Enough to go out once a week

We keep open all McDonald’s

And Cracker Barrel too

These schmucks will pay good money

For that kind of food.

The finer restaurants need not fear

The rabble go to Red Lobster just once a year

Just give them

Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses

I’m sure that’s what the answer is

As long as we don’t discriminate

Denying advancement to every race

Enough bad food and home entertainment

Will keep the proper containment

So give them

Bread and Circuses

Only just enough

The secret to giving them satisfaction

Is lowering their expectations

This is the secret to our democracy

Let the rabble live long, long lives of mediocrity

Living on

Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses

If you want to know where the power is

Then open up your eyes

It’s the people who fill them with lies

That there’s no hope for anything more

When you’re born southern and poor

Just give them

Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses

Then look away,

Look away

Look away

Dixieland.

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Today Is What It’s All About

Yesterday, I was discouraged, but today is a new day. Why? I went to rehearsal of my college’s new play. We’re performing a stage version of the movie Clue that is based on the old sleuthing board game so many of us know and love. The movie has an all-star cast, including the late great Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry (of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame), the fabulous Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull and Lesley Ann Warren.

At auditions, there were so many fine actors that our director, head of the drama department, decided to have understudies for some of the roles, include a “household staff” that will serve as entertainment between scenes and then get their shot at the big roles during two additional shows. Great idea, and it’s what directors who are primarily good educators at community colleges do–make their lives much more complicated for the sake of their students as well as the community members who are also significant stake holders in their college.

Today’s rehearsal reflects what community colleges are all about–play production students coming early and staying late to work on the set, more seasoned actors helping the newer ones, agreeing with the director without argument, offering suggestions, happy to have them accepted or not, the director’s quick and non-embarrassing corrections when new actors make mistakes, each actor creating a story for his or her character, an occasional harmless joke, the joys of physical humor leading to laughter and a true knowledge of an art form that only comes with actually getting up and doing it.

This is educational theater and the essence of what liberal arts is all about–following directions, creative problem-solving, collaborating and creating. I’m so glad to once again be a part of it.

Also, today–my positive day–I want to give a shout out to the colleagues, support staff, administrators and students who helped me so much during this past discouraging week. I complain sometimes, but I truly just want to make things better for my fellow instructors and my students, especially my students. Nevertheless, I want to find more time to praise the people I work with who also have the welfare of all of our students foremost in their minds. I also appreciate those students and friends who have reached out to me this week, offering me respect and encouragement. Thanks, guys–you know who you are.