Yesterday was my son’s happyokai, which means every class in the elementary school put on some sort of presentation. My son’s class did “Snow White” in English, so that all of the parents would be impressed by their kids’ newly acquired language skills. It was cute. The kids remembered their lines, danced well, and Snow White did some impressive fainting.
The second graders sang a few selections from “The Sound of Music,” and then after that the performances were increasingly high culture. The next class – the third graders – did a poetry reading in sort of a No mode, and the fourth graders played an avant garde musical composition. The fifth graders performed a story by Kenji Miyazawa in English, which had an off-off-off Broadway feel, and the sixth graders did a performance of kyogen, speaking once again in a highly stylized way, a la kabuki.
I kept thinking, “So this is the difference between public school and private school.” At a public school, we would have been treated to more mundane fare – the theme song to “Popeye, the Sailor Man,” for example, and dramatizations of folk tales that everyone knows. I couldn’t help thinking that it was all a bit pretentious. But then again, I went to public school. I’m the hoi polloi.