Culture, A Key to Being Authentic

Jeffrey Go and Jack Coleman

“As human beings, we want to know and connect with each other. When we see or hear something that challenges our viewpoints, we seek to know that and where it is coming from,” said Weeks. There are so many different cultures in the world. Consequently, this mixing bowl of cultures has gradually seeped into the media society consumes such plays, movies and music, including the students at Seattle Prep.

“Culture unifies a group of people group–same traditions, honoring who they are. Cultures can evolve over time.” Mr. Othman is the theatre teacher and head of the film club. He started his love of teaching theatre by first working with young people. For Othman the overall goal when producing plays is making them authentic. When a play is authentic it is more immersive and engaging for the audience. This is also the goal of film directors and producers today but often movies fall short of their vision.

“The movie industry is behind its time.” Othman was very clear on the fact that today there is a very heavy presence in film and theatre of white male actors and directors. In recent years, there have been many examples of misrepresentation in film and theatre. One big example of this is the 2017 movie “Dunkirk”, directed by Christopher Nolan. The award-winning film has been praised by many for its gritty storytelling and great sound mixing. However, people have criticized the movie for its little representation of soldiers who were from the Royal Indian Army Service Corp companies. The soldiers played a huge role in transporting supplies across inaccessible territory for Allied ships. Unfortunately, the mainstream media tends to lean towards “capitalistic gains,” said Othman. While media that represents different cultures are out there, they are not in the mainstream media and are not exposed to the public’s eye. Companies tend to stick to what has been successful in the past to have more monetary gain as opposed to representing different cultures. However, more and more actors and directors of color are being hired to change the tide in who is popular in media.

“Culture is a shared set of traditions, values, and styles that a group of people might have.” Mr. Weeks, the freshmen music teacher, choir director, and general music director and teacher at Prep, had a lot to say about culture in music. He started teaching because he loved connecting with people and loved the connection that could be made by teaching music.

“If we have a group of people who don’t necessarily know (the) best practices for cultural music, then there is a risk of it being done inauthentically and without having education on what we are working on.” When performing music that is culturally intertwined, there is a fine line between using cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. Profound researching in the culture the music is rooted in is needed in order to have an authentic, educational, and overall fantastic performance.

Lastly, Weeks wanted the readers to know that, “One of the greatest and most joyful things for me is to listen to other cultures and that is something that I hold very dearly… I am very thankful to listen and learn.” Weeks and Othman are role models for people who are working to continue their education in the arts. They dedicated to their art form and strive to be as authentic as possible when teaching and performing.