The first of November saw the premiere of a six-episode, German-made series for television entitled “You Are the Wave,” rooted in a week-long 1967 Palo Alto high school classroom experiment.Â In that experiment, students and their teacher (Mr. Jones) gave up their freedom for the prospect of being superior to their neighbors.
An attempt to learn how fascism can emerge and take hold, the impact of this exercise escaped the classroom and swept through the school with astonishing rapidity. An unwanted war, racism, and cultural change — it’s a cautionary story relevant today.
As within a single week the Third Wave movement he had posited grew outside his class and began to number in the hundreds, Jones saw that the experiment had actually spiraled out of control. At week’s end, he summoned the students in a rally where he indicated he would tell them that the classroom project was part of a nationwide movement, and that the announcement of a Third Wave presidential candidate would be televised. Upon assembling, however, the students were presented with a blank tv screen. Jones then told his students the true nature of the Third Wave movement as an experiment in fascism, and presented them with a short film about Nazi Germany.
[click on the link above, repeated here for a recounting of the experiment by a few of its participants]
Ron Jones, who only recently retired from a 30-year career with the Pomeroy Center (RCH) here in San Francisco, came to Cubberley High just a year or so before he launched the Third Wave experiment. An account of it he wrote a dozen years after the fact was turned into a tv special that spawned a novelization by Todd Strasser, which has itself become required reading in Germany and Israel. Theatrically, the story has been performed for years worldwide, from Barcelona to Berlin, Jerusalem, New Delhi, Moscow, Hong Kong… all the way to The Marsh, here on Valencia Street, as a musical.Â Ahhh show biz.
And yes, in recent years there’s been a German feature film, “The Wave” (Die Welle), and now this tv series. And a documentary, built on interviews with participants in the original experiment, is in the works. Meanwhile, the play and musical continue to be performed, and in Hong Kong, says Ron, activists have been taking to the streets at intermission and then returning again to the theater for the play’s conclusion.
Join us to hear Ron tell the story, with an assist from pianist Jason Martineau and a few other allies, and also read some old and new writing, from a story about birds in his backyard to Billie Holiday meeting Donald Trump, to “What is Fame?”
Ron is doing a lot of storytelling now, co-directs The Marsh Youth Theater and has invited some young artists he knows to join him at Bird & Beckett.
For this, as for so much to do with Bird & Beckett, we are thankful.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.
Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site