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Drama vs. Drama: What is Art vs. What is Slander

Gianfranco Lentini relates the difference between the drama we study and the kind that can spoil lives. logo

If the line has blurred for you between drama and drama, it may be time to make a self adjust.
"We're drama students. We love drama," is a resoundingly smack-in-the-face comment that was made to me this week. As to the context of the comment, let me explain.

To say drama students love drama may be the biggest understatement that can ever be said in our line of work. Drama is what we do. It's what we eat, breathe, sleep, and even major in. It's what we throw almost all of our hard-earned money and precious time towards, but when that drama gets personal and suddenly everything has gone wrong faster than a preview of Spider-Man, abruptly it's not the same game anymore. We'd rather observe the car crash than be the one driving or even the passenger for that fact.

Where I'm coming from this week is a place that I hope I'll never have to write from again, especially for my readers, and hopefully after reading this, even a small few of you may be able to take away a life lesson in however you see fitting. Drama is an art form and a way so many of us choose to express ourselves through movement, design, and concept. It's a devoted practice and a lifestyle rather than a nightly routine or something that can be left unfinished until morning. Drama is how we define ourselves in this world, and it's a matter of fact statement when I say it's nothing but an art - an art that thrives and blooms even in the darkest of places and isn't unsettled by its counterpart who's also unfortunately named drama.

Now, this form of drama, the one that had been stated to me (as I quoted above), as we all know too well to care for, has a much darker nature. This form of drama -- slander for use of a better word -- finds its inception in a series of self-spun rumors, broken telephone games, and round-robin whispers. It starts out on its baby feet and before anyone cares to leash it, it's out running around campus faster than your school mascot at a football game. It tears its way through the department, finds its way into your texts and Facebook messages, and eventually it always comes full circle right back to the person whom everyone is now talking about.

What these means of communication all have in common are that they are all quiet, and I don't know about you, but when I hear that something is usually trying to be kept hushed, it's either because A) it's none of my business or B) whatever it is, it probably never happened.

Imagine if you will for a second: One of your friends approaches you warily, instantly setting off alarms. You stand there, jaw agape, listening to the continuing list of "You did this" and "You said that" and "You went there." What's the first instinct or reaction you feel? Anger? Hurt? Complete and utter humiliation? You know you haven't done anything wrong, but frankly, most of what you've just heard is so far-fetched that you're terrified you might have actually done it!

Now, imagine putting those same feelings, those same emotions, and all of that stress on that one person for some reason you just can't stand. My question to you: Why? Why do it? Why, when you're only spending four years out of your entire life on a campus, are you purposely trying to mess things up not just for this person but for yourself as well? Why, when there's a decent chance you'll never have to see or speak to this person again after graduation? The cons outweigh the pros, and that is my second matter of fact statement. Nothing is ever that important that it just begs for another "Suzy slept with…" or "Davy said that…" to circulate the airwaves.

So, yes. Drama students love drama. But if I've successfully taught anything today, it's that we love the drama we put forth - drama that belongs on stage and stays on stage - and not the drama that we have to hide and push into the shadows whenever someone walks by. If the line has blurred for you between drama and drama (it's unfortunate they both go by the same name), no one can give you a better piece of advice than it may be time to make a self adjust, to take another look at where you're standing.

Drama, the major we're all pursuing, is a celebration of life, and it's not up to us to blacken its name.


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