My step-daughter showed us a DVD of her summer theater camp experience. Children, between the ages of 8 and 18 prepared a musical, and then traveled to a few cities and villages around the Swiss border to perform their show. There are costumes, painted sets, lights, directors, and professional musicians.
The musical was an allegory of sorts about the World War II and Nazism. There is a sort of emperor who wants to de-ignite the moon, banish freedom, and have certain citizens wear yellow Dr. Seuss pompoms. All this happens to cheery but somber songs (no dance).
In the “behind the scenes documentary,” one child talks about how he’s happy to be part of a play that warns about the evils of the world. He seems convinced that the musical will contribute to the education of audiences and somehow prevent historical reoccurrence. There is no doubt in my mind that experience was fulfilling for him, but does art actually have the power to convince others? Can it change anyone’s mind? Can it act as a political force? And above all, is it not just kitsch to put historical tragedy to music sung buy kids?