Squawks 101

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So you’re not into politics. Maybe you don’t keep up with the news. It could even be that you’ve been living under a rock for the past year. In any of those cases, you’re in luck because Charlotte Squawks: Six Degrees of Desecration can get you up to speed ... fast ... sort of. The musical stage presentation, produced by Mike Collins and Brian Kahn, is a raucous, tongue-in-cheek recap of the year that was, acted out in a School House Rock-ish sort of way. A bit of “edu-tainment,” if you will — only with a little more entertainment thrown in and with the PG rating thrown out.

But for the latter, I think there’s a case for Charlotte Squawks being good for at least extra credit for local junior high or high school students who go see it and perhaps do a short report on the content on which it was based. Sure, the performances were lighthearted and comical, but there was a lot of good information hidden in there. The cast parodied some of the biggest names in news from the past year, both nationally and locally, including Sarah Palin, Ken Lewis, John Edwards, Sonya Sotomayor and Bernie Madoff. These are people with events surrounding them that the average person should know about by now, if they’ve been paying attention.

We’re in an age where information is as fleeting as Charlotte snowfall and more and more people have the attention spans of fleas. So, if by chance anyone was unfamiliar with these names and stories going in, you had a good idea about them leaving out. Or were at least tempted to Google it once you got home. That’s just it. You make this kind of non-traditional tool a part of the learning experience, and I guarantee more interest in civics, current events, and social studies classes wherever it may be lacking. I’m certainly not advocating against the virtue of the good old-fashioned pencil-and-textbook type of learning, but you can set just about anything to music, and people will remember it. It’s how most of us first learned our ABCs. And thanks to School House Rock, I still remember from the age of 8 how a bill gets passed: "I'm just a bill. Yes, I'm only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill" ... See, it works.

School students aside, I know a lot of adults who could learn a little something from watching Charlotte Squawks as well — whether that was the intention of the cast or not. Plus, it was just down right funny. As a lover of the arts and an advocate for staying abreast of the world around you, I think Charlotte Squawks, in its own offensively off-beat way, well, fits the bill.

The last two performances of Charlotte Squawks: Six Degrees of Desecration are this weekend at McGlohon Theatre.

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