When I was in New York City last week, I attended a preview of the Broadway show Oleanna. I was offered two free tickets to attend because of my blogging on this blog.
It's described at the website as follows:
OLEANNA has electrifying dialogue, blazing emotion and an ending that will leave you talking for weeks. In this riveting drama, a college professor and his female student become embroiled in a war of words that takes a dangerous turn. As their serene campus transforms into a battleground for justice, Mamet's explosive masterpiece dares you to take a side . . . if you can.
It was an unbelievable performance. The setting was the professor's office and the only two actors throughout the play were the professor and his female student.
I only skimmed the description of the show prior to attending it, and when I first sat down, I thought that the professor actually assaulted, or at the very least, inappropriately touched, the student. So throughout the first scene, I kept waiting for signs of that to occur.
I thought the professor was very old school, and noted that he always used the word "he" as the default pronoun--a fact that I found to be annoying, but nothing earth shattering.
Throughout the first scene, the student and the professor had a strange,off kilter, slightly charged discussion about her poor grade on a paper. She was very intense, and he was quite distracted at first, but later became a bit excitable. But, he was never inappropriate--just a bit flaky.
So imagine my surprise when in the second scene, we learned that she'd brought charges against him before the tenure committee based upon their prior interaction in his office.
Ultimately, you realize that the student, who was involved in some sort of "group" that you never learned about--was arguably seeking to make an example of this professor, essentially ruining his life in the process.
First off, I easily identified with her outrage and anger with our culture. It is extremely frustrating to exist in a society where you are, by nature of your chromosomal make up, subjugated to the status of a second class citizen.
For example, until very recently, most medical testing was done on white men and only male symptoms of medical events, such as heart attacks, were studied or disseminated.
Womens' scores in musical auditions increased greatly once screens were put up between the musician and the grader, thus preventing the listener from knowing the gender of the musician.
Psychological studies consistently prove that test graders routinely provide better grades to essays believed to have been written by a male, while providing lower grades to identical essays with a woman's name on the top. For that very reason, I used to write my "anonymous" law school exams in block print, so that the professor would have a more difficult time determining my gender when grading the exam.
In Oleanna, it was clear that this professor was sexist. He talked down to women students, wasn't aware of his innate bias against women and preference for the male norm. It was annoying, but, all things considered, pretty harmless. He wasn't a bad guy.
He definitely could have used some enlightenment. But making an example of him--ruining his life, both professional and personal, was ridiculous and extreme.
Her outrage was understandable. Her target was questionable. Her methods were outrageous. In the end, the only person I sympathized with was the clueless, sexist professor.
Overall, it was a great show. Great acting and an intriguing and thought provoking dialogue. I truly enjoyed it. You should check it out--and you can save money by doing so:
To save over 40% on tickets, just visit BroadwayOffers.comand enter code OLMKT93. Tickets are only $59 on Tuesday-Friday or $65 on Saturday and Sunday! (Valid through 11/15)