Going to the Chapel and We’re Going to Theorize

As I have progressed through my first graduate school class (and my first ever communications course) I find myself looking differently at situations that occur in my everyday life. I have started to write my daily communications at work in a different manner- focusing on being more succinct and trying to phrase things so that my intended meaning gets across without the fear of confusion or misinterpretation. It is more than just a newfound “communication consciousness” when writing, I also have started to see how I can apply communication traditions and theories to issues that arise around me. For example, I am currently in the early stages of planning my wedding and my fiance and I are trying to determine a location for the ceremony. My mother keeps pushing for us to get married in a church. However, my fiance and I would prefer to do something more unorthodox for our ceremony — something that more accurately reflects who we are as individuals. We would like to get married on stage at a local theatre; both of us are heavily involved in the theatre and performing arts world and feel that a ceremony on stage would be a better representation of us as individuals and as a couple.

Looking at this from a phenomenological perspective, which tells us that our meanings of objects is determined by our relationships to those objects, you can understand why my fiance and I would like to have our wedding ceremony in a theatre (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011). Theatre has always been a large aspect of both of our lives. I was first introduced to the theatre world as a young child when my grandmother would take me every year to see the Rockette’s Christmas Spectaclar show in NYC. That became one of my favorite holiday traditions (which I still do, to this day, even though my grandmother is no longer with us). I also remember our family vacations to NYC to go see Phantom of the Opera, Jekyll and Hyde, and The Sound of Music on Broadway. Not to mention that I participated in numerous school productions throughout middle andhigh school. I have such a deep connection with theatre that even my minor in college was in theatre. After I graduated and moved back home, I joined a local community theatre and have been able to perform on stage there every once in awhile. Looking back at it, I’ve spent over half of my life either watching a stage show or performing in a stage show, so it is plain to see that theatre holds an important place in my life and makes up a large portion of who I am. The same can be said for my fiance. He also has worked in theatre since he was in middle school, except he prefers the more technical side of the performance arts (lighting, sound, etc). He also went to college for theatre studies, and his current profession involves being a stage tech for various theatres and companies.

My mother does not seem to fully comprehend our connection to the theatre, possibly because she did not experience the theatre world the same way my fiance and I have. My mother was not actively involved in the dramatic arts as a teen or young adult. While she has gone to see stage shows and is a fan of most Broadway shows, she has not had the same connections as my fiance and I and, therefore, cannot assign the same meaning of importance to theatre that we do. The concept of “theatre” to her represents an entertainment and recreational quality of life, whereas to my fiance and myself “theatre” is not so much a quality of life, as it is an extension of ourselves.

Looking at it from a sociocultural position helped me see why my mother would prefer that I get married in a church (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011). The important aspect is the different social/cultural groups my family identifies with: we are a Catholic, Italian family. In our family culture (italian catholic) it is a set standard that when it is time to wed, the ceremony will be held in a catholic church and presided over by the family priest. Not getting married in a church goes against the accepted standards of my family’s culture. Perhaps a compromise would help appease both parties in this argument — my fiance and I can get married on stage in a theatre if it is presided over by the family priest. This way my mother will feel better knowing that I am not going against all of our family’s cultural standards and my fiance and I can still have our ceremony be a reflection of who we are.

Reference: Littlejohn, S., & Foss, K. (2011). Theories of Human Communication (10th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

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