The Times They Were A-changin

From the moment they conceive, most parents have hopes and dreams for their children and are anxious to provide the discipline and encouragement they need to grow from helpless infants into responsible adults. Then, when they reach their late teens or early twenties, there comes a time in their children’s lives when their children are compelled to exert their independence and strike out on their own. Sometimes they embrace their parents’ aspirations and follow their parents’ direction and there is harmony, but more often than not there is the need for them to follow their own dreams and challenge lessons learned.

Set in the summer of 1961, Shifting Gears is a coming-of-age play for the United States and for a Michigan family and for each of its family members. World War II ended more than sixteen years ago, the Eisenhower presidency ended a year ago and the youth, vigor and promise of the Kennedy years is in full swing. In the traditions of the time, dad was the bread-winner, mom was the home-maker and their children were properly taught to be seen but not heard and to not speak unless spoken to. Well all that was about to change.

As family members confront each other over personal desires and unforeseen challenges, both parents and children alike find new understanding, respect and maturity as all face the emerging realities of the times and their own lives. Typically, all most parents want is some assurance that they raised their children well and that their children now have the opportunity to live productive, rewarding and happy lives. Of course only time will tell.

I grew up during this period and have since raised three children of my own. And although none of the circumstances or characters in this play ever truly existed, everyone in Shifting Gears and everything that happens to them was informed by what I witnessed and experienced first as a child and then as a parent.

To me, Shifting Gears combines a time that has passed with truths that are timeless. Check it out for yourself at Indie Theater Now.

Richard Warren, Playwright

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