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Like wrangling cats

What happens when provincial politicians try to wrangle cats? by Brett NielsenLEAN: The Musical takes on audit culture head-on

There are a lot of different ways to get a point across.

One of those ways, offers University of Regina student Krystal Lewis, is through the art of theatre.

With that in mind, Lewis and her team are in the final stages of preparing LEAN: The Musical for audiences, March 20-22 at the Shoebox Theatre in the Riddell Centre.

The target of LEAN: The Musical, which was written by U of R School of Journalism professor Trish Elliott and takes place in a modern elementary school, is so-called “audit culture,” says Lewis, who’s working towards a certificate in international development while serving as co-director with a hand in stage management for LEAN: The Musical.

LEAN: The Musical has been in the works since last year and is now seemingly more timely than ever, with criticisms coming to a boiling point over the Saskatchewan government’s usage of the Lean program to try to cut healthcare costs, and the prospect of a similar approach being used for education.

The timing, it seems, is no coincidence.

“We’re challenging the idea of really rigorously scrutinizing every single aspect of work,” Lewis says.

“We’re questioning its place in things like healthcare and education, which is where Lean has been, and is currently being, implemented … (Lean) sort of commodifies people and what they do.”

As Elliott recently told CBC about her production: “The bigger message is we can’t lose sight on the sort of, the rambunctious energy of children. Adults are always trying to contain that and shut it down, but that’s what makes life worth living. And if we obsess on measuring everything and justifying and quantifying everything, you kind of lose sight of what makes life worth living.”

The idea of Lean: The Musical was initially a joke between Elliott and her friends.

Now it’s on the eve of being introduced to the public, and Lewis is happy about that.

“Theatre is a great way to communicate ideas and a great way to challenge ideas as well,” Lewis says. “This is a great medium to articulate yourself – it gives you a whole new language to use. You can go to a protest or a rally, which are also very valuable, but this is a way to diversify how we communicate and maybe get an audience that might not usually engage with this topic, but they might come out to a performance, it might make them think about the way we deliver public services that we all use.

“Maybe this will encourage people to think about what education means and what we value in education.”

 

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