A couple days ago, a student in my Modern Drama class stopped me in the hall:
STUDENT: Do you teach a play analysis class?
STUDENT: Do you teach a playwriting class?
ME: No, that is taught in the Literature Dept.
STUDENT: I write plays -- which do you think it would be better for me to take: a play analysis class, or a playwriting class?
ME: Well, I would say a playwriting class would be better, since a play analysis class sometimes can feel constraining to somebody who is trying to create, as opposed to analyze.
STUDENT: Hmmm. I've already written a play, so I already know how to write plays, but maybe that is what I should do. I saw a production of "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," and I was very influenced. I want to grow up to be David Mamet. I try to make my plays as offensive as possible. I take people I know and alter their personalities so that they are as ugly as possible. I HATE my characters!
I excused myself: I was late for a meeting, and couldn't stay to talk. But as I walked away, I was mortified: she's written a play, so she "knows how to do that." And she is trying to make her plays "as offensive as possible," filled with characters she hates. And the question that keeps going through my mind: how does this happen? How do these attitudes develop in kids so young?