Director's Note for The Metal Children
I discovered The Metal Children years ago at the local Barnes and Noble as a student at Messiah College in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. Pretty ironic considering the subject matter. I have long been a fan of Adam Rapp’s haunting and quirky plays, so I grabbed it without a second thought.
I immediately felt a strong connection to the piece. Growing up as an artist in the Midwest in a very religious environment – the questions Rapp raises felt all too familiar. At my private Christian high school, the compulsion to sweep difficult topics under the rug was automatic. Better to just not talk of such things rather than slog through the challenging questions of morality (and reality) that they could bring to light. My friends and I coined the term “the Christian Bubble” with good reason. The Metal Children drives a stake right into the heart of this type of blind close-mindedness. Vera and the young women of Midlothia rail against the spiritual and societal confines presented by their community as I did – albeit to a much less effective extent - flaunting my love of theatre and blaring songs like “Totally F****d” from my car in the school parking lot in eccentric, youthful protest.
Yet what makes this play even more gripping, Rapp does not end the conversation there - he presents multiple angles on the issue, leaving a slew of questions in the laps of the audience to mull over and tease out. As the teens of Midlothia take their battle to the extremes, we begin to wonder whether or not we really should bestow such difficult topics on adolescents. Can they handle it? Will the information act as a “preventative moral vaccine” as Stacey argues? Or will they crumble under the suggestion?
I am also drawn to the play’s larger question of the power of art to take on a life of its own. What happens to a piece of art after its initial creation? Art is subjective and therefore, should elicit a multitude of responses. But how many ways can it be interpreted? Or misinterpreted? And is the artist then responsible? As events in Midlothia spiral out of control, does Tobin owe something to these people whose lives will never be the same?
I invite you to let these questions wash over you. Don’t be too quick to pronounce judgment. The Metal Children is about the power of art to incite dialogue and action…
What will happen when you leave this theatre?