Plays Taught to Junior Students
Students in school often wonder why they have to read certain books in English class.
They think that those books are boring and pointless to read. Is it that hard to find a book that will interest students and make them want to read it? What should juniors in high school read? There are many plays that are educational and interesting to read. Steel Magnolias is a play that takes place in a beauty salon. There are many ladies who hang out at the salon and get their hair done. They also like to catch up on the latest news and gossip of their small town.
The play mostly focuses on the story of Shelby, a diabetic who has to deal with her condition, while trying to live a normal life. The play was enjoyable to read because it was full of heart and comedy, but the play is more enjoyable for girls, rather than boys. The play, Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, should not be taught to Maine South juniors. Steel Magnolias is too brief, it does not challenge the reader, and it will not entertain both genders. Steel Magnolias is too short of a play to read in class.
The play is roughly seventy pages and the story is spread over a two year period. The story is too broad and doesn’t go into depth about the conflict and the characters. It briefly describes the issues that Shelby, one of the main characters, has to go through in her life as a diabetic. She faces challenges of getting married, having a baby, and having to go through dialysis after giving birth. The play doesn’t go into depth about these issues, it briefly mentions them as the play goes on.
One critic of the play mentions that Steel Magnolias is far too predictable and too cliche to be taken seriously. The play has a “Frankenstein” composition because it doesn’t go into depth about anything. There were many predictable and uncalled for moments that didn’t have any reasoning behind them, and there were huge gaps of time which had poor transitioning (IMDb). Steel Magnolias is far too shallow to be discussed in class. There isn’t too much meaning behind the actions of the characters.The play is very fast-pace which makes it hard to discuss the conflict.
It also makes it difficult to teach any lessons that the play might have to the students. To make this play teachable to juniors, Harling should have gone more into depth about the struggles Shelby had to go through, and how the women helped and supported her. He should’ve added details about the women sticking together and being there for each other during each conflict. “New York Times critic Mel Gussow declared that Steel Magnolias “does not succeed in gathering its resources and transcending its existence as a slice of Southern life.” Jeremy Kingston, who reviewed the production for the London Times when it played to British audiences in London’s West End, concluded that in one particularly poignant scene “Harling’s keenness to round it off with a joke is a prime example of an author eventually sacrificing drama for a laugh.
” In his column for New York magazine, theater critic John Simon lauded Steel Magnolias, noting that although at times the work “is frothy, frivolous, and full of southern exoticism, [it also] has a steady undercurrent of fortitude that enables it to rise to drama.” (Contemporary Authors). When Harling wrote Steel Magnolias, it seems that he didn’t know whether he wanted the play to be more comedic or dramatic. In the end, the play turned out to be very general and fastly written. Steel Magnolias is a very short play. It shouldn’t be read by Maine South juniors because it is too broad and cannot be discussed thoroughly.
Not only is Steel Magnolias too short to read in class, it also doesn’t challenge the reader enough. The play has simple context that is not up to a junior level of reading. The tone of the books shows causal responses to big news in the play: I’m going to have a baby. I realize that. Well… is that it? Is that all you’re going to say? I…. what do you expect me to say? Something along the lines of congratulations.
… Congratulations (Harling, 33). In this scene, Shelby tells her mother that she is pregnant. Her mother’s response doesn’t show any emotion toward her big news and Shelby becomes frustrated. This shows that the book doesn’t have much depth to it. It doesn’t challenge the reader because the conversations between the women are very monotone and easy to read.
The conversation the girls have in the salon are very casual and laid back. They don’t have a lot of meaning to them and don’t go into a lot of depth. It’s always just small talk and gossip about the people in town. All the small talk that goes on in the salon shows fake friendship between the women. The wording of the author doesn’t challenge the reader, since the reader is only reading casual, polite, everyday conversations between the women.
The context makes the book easy to read and it won’t challenge the juniors to their capability of reading and comprehension. Steel Magnolias is an easy read, and it will not interest all junior students. Steel Magnolias is a play that centers around six women who go to the beauty salon to get their hair done and gossip. The conflict of the play deals with growing up and dealing with diabetes. The play is more for girls than for boys because it’s centered around women and gossip. Junior boys prefer to read about sports and violence, rather than women talking in a beauty salon.
The play is also a romantic comedy, which is always appealing to girls more than boys. In a review in Variety magazine, David Rooney says, “Steel Magnolias is a comforting blend of sitcom and soap, Robert Harling’s play about the strength and solidarity of Southern women might not have been screaming for a Broadway berth, but it is brought enjoyably to life by director Jason Moore and his sassy cast. It’s the theatrical equivalent of nestling under the warming cocoon of a hair dryer while your highlights set and flipping through a juicy gossip mag with a tear-jerker installment” (Rooney). The play is written in a friendly tone which appeals to a lot of women. Steel Magnolias is a play that empowers women to stay strong and to try and stick together through rough times. The play won’t interest all junior students because it is more of a play for girls rather than for boys.
Steel Magnolias is a play that should not be taught to Maine South juniors because it is too brief, it doesn’t challenge the reader, and it won’t interest both genders. Steel Magnolias is an easy read full of heart-throbbing moments and character. It is too simple of a play to be taught in school. Junior students should read a play that is interesting, and one that can challenge them. The students should be able to discuss the play, in depth, in class and be able to find lessons and symbolism in the play. It can be difficult to find a play that interests students enough to make them want to read it.
Maine South juniors need to find a play that is exciting, and that they will enjoy reading and discussing in English class.