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Show and Tell: Seattle Public Theater's 'Gidion's Knot'

Raw, risky play examines the roles of children, teacher, parents

Published on: April 01, 2014

Heather Hawkins and Rebecca Olson in Gidion's KnotThe bottom line

Looking for a powerful, thought-provoking, adult-focused theater experience that will stick with you long after the house lights come up? 

Seattle Public Theater's production of Gidion's Knot, performed through April 20, grapples with hard-hitting questions about the roles adults play in a child's life at home and at school.

Tough questions

Recently, a friend and I were talking about an incident his daughter had experienced at school. She saw that a classmate was distressed and tried to seek help from the teacher. "Go back to your seat," the teacher admonished her. "Your classmate needs to take care of himself."

How many times a day do our kids stand up for what they believe is right, only to be knocked down? How many instances, in the six (or more) hours that they are away from us, do they suffer from hurt feelings and hurt pride? Parents spend years instilling a sense of right and wrong in their children. What if the teacher's definition of what's right differs from ours? What if a teacher dislikes a child?

These are some of the themes addressed in Gidion's Knot, a 70-minute depiction of a fifth-grade parent-teacher conference that takes place after the child has been suspended from school.

The best parts

This finely acted show, starring two women, does a masterful job of exploring and breaking down stereotypes.

Gidion's mother, Corryn, is an outspoken single mother who missed the school's Open House.

Is she irresponsible?

Gidion's teacher, Ms. Clark, is neat and controlled and careful not to give away information.

Is she rigid?

Who is responsible for Gidion's suspension and the tragic aftermath?

At the heart of this play are questions about childhood innocence, freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

But perhaps the biggest questions Gidion's Knot examines are:

Is a teacher responsible for what happens after her student leaves the classroom?

How can we be the parents our children need, not just the ones they get?

Definitely not for kids

The production is recommended for individuals over the age of 13, but when I recounted the play's details to my savvy 15-year-old, she was very affected. 

Though humor is infused throughout the play, it's raw and contains graphic language and descriptions of fantasy violence. Discretion is advised for sensitive viewers.

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