Things one should not say when judging a play at the high school level.
- Your choice of play is retarded.
- I hate the play.
- I don’t understand the play.
- Why isn’t this play more linear?
Are you sensing a theme? Are you seeing a pattern? These are things that were said to teenagers during their adjudication at a recent one act festival. All of these things have nothing to do with interpretation, or performance. These things express an intense subjective dislike for something the cast (of teenagers) has no control over. And when a judge makes an adjudication all about these things, to teenagers, do you know what teenagers think?
They think they suck. They don’t divide play/performance. They hear bad play=bad performance. They don’t see the judge voicing a subjective opinion when they shouldn’t. Teenagers want to be encouraged, they want to have validation for their hard work. They want to know they’re OK.
What makes it worse is that one of two things happens in the minds of the various judges who say these things. One, the judge is completely oblivious to the negative effect of their comments and don’t spend one second thinking about it. Or Two, the judge is completely aware of the negative effect of their comments and find purpose in tearing teenagers down.
Both are very, very sucky. Grr.