At the beginning of each school year, I ask juniors how many of them plan to stay in state for college. The majority say–emphatically–that they plan to leave, particularly those who consider themselves part of “forgotten” communities. The Dramatic Performance’s first one act of the semester, Flyover, dramatizes the motivations young people feel as they contemplate their futures. Tell me what you think of the play’s ending.

I’m also curious: what will it take for young people to choose Mississippi rather than flee it?

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13 Responses to Flyover

  1. Elijah says:

    Dr. Easterling, I hate you for not giving an elaborate ending. Good God, why did you have to end it on a Cliffhanger? However, as a younger person who can relate to her sentiments, I feel that Shelby would most likely choose to leave Mississippi. With all the people that are around her, I would leave too. Heck, it didn’t even matter whether or not I had the money at all. I don’t think there are any good arguments on her staying.

  2. Bill Arnoldus says:

    For me, it took MSU being free to stay in Mississippi. Although it doesn’t mean i’m not plotting my ways out. In-state colleges giving young people large amounts of money to attend seems like the biggest way to keep young people who want out, in. Because other than college and family, there’s not many reasons to stay in Mississippi. Other states and countries have more opportunities for young people. I know that Starkville’s plan to retain and possibly grow its population is to make the town more and more connected to MSU. A comfortable and affordable living for college students, and every suburban pleasure that can be offered, will make people more likely to settle down there.

  3. Jacqueline Smith says:

    I’m not a huge fan of unresolved endings, to be honest. However, I do relate to Shelby’s struggle. She doesn’t even know what she wants to do but she wants to leave Mississippi.
    The main reason why most young people feel unfavorably about Mississippi is the culture. As the other characters said, they didn’t want to leave and they didn’t want to change. That’s alright, but in most instances, it leads to Mississippi being backward because people are unwilling to change their perspectives. It took until 2020 to change the state flag from the *Confederate* flag. Because of the flight of educated individuals, the situation worsens to where Mississippi has bad schools, little industry, and very little to do.
    Maybe digital media will accelerate space-time compression to the point where the culture in Mississippi will be indistinguishable from the rest of the U.S. Some may think it’s a tragedy, but it’s beginning to seem like homogenizing is the only reliable way to reduce conflict.

  4. Gracyn Young says:

    Dr. Easterling, as I read these comments and see how others feel about the ending, I can’t say anything but express how I disagree. Maybe it’s just my knack for cliffhangers or the fact that the ending causes the watcher to reflect on their personal motives (what they would choose), but either way, I feel as if it couldn’t have ended better. I think the ending of the play causes us to reflect on what we would choose as a form of closure since it wasn’t explicitly given to us. Personally, I think that Shelby would have left. Maybe it was the lack of chemistry I felt between her and Beau or the “helicopter mom,” but I don’t think anyone on the outside could blame her for wanting to leave.

    As for the staying in Mississippi topic, I personally don’t see myself going far for college. Mainly because I don’t want to be in major debt due to out-of-state tuition, but also because as much as Mississippi has its faults, I see that every other state has them too. I am blessed enough to have an amazing family who I don’t want to leave too far behind, and three great options for college that are close (UM, MSU, USM), I think that staying in Mississippi, at least for undergrad, is not unfavorable. If I do go out of state (for undergrad), I cannot imagine myself going farther than the bordering states.

    I think that there isn’t much anyone can do to keep the younger generations from fleeing Mississippi. I would argue that because of the presence of technology and the current political state of our country, most teenagers are rebelling from the conservative way they were raised (at least in my case), and Mississippi simply doesn’t support their views. Most Mississippi teenagers only stay in-state because of money, I think that if Mississippi really wants their young to stay, make college cheaper and higher paying jobs for after graduation.

    Otherwise, I thought the play was great and the actors were absolutely phenomenal. It was the perfect mixture of humor and realization. Great Job!

  5. George Utz says:

    I did not like the ending of the play (I did not watch it).

    Young people that express a strong desire to leave Mississippi tend to consider themselves Democrats, and as such tend to hold more “left-leaning” beliefs. Mississippi is a “red state”, meaning its elected officials are almost always Republican. This factional divide drives many out of Mississippi, and I can’t imagine there is much that any one person or group of people could do to change the situation. If only there was some way for citizens to help determine who gets voted into office…

  6. Nicolas Neal says:

    Brain drain is a significant factor in Mississippi’s declining population. The lack of an attractive tech sector and an unfavorable perception of our state are also big boo-boos for its population retention. Consequently, a rising dependency ratio will strain the workforce, long-term care facilities will experience labor shortages (worse than they already are), an ageing population will suffer innovation decline, and Mississippi will become a liability to the nation as a whole (in a worst-case scenario).

    Young people already have advantages in staying local. Mississippi colleges offer in-state tuitions that are far cheaper than out-of-state alternatives. Living close to home is, too, a considerable convenience. I don’t know what else could be done to ensure that our young minds don’t run off as soon as they go off to university or the workforce aside from the obvious “make Mississippi better” in various ways. Maybe it is what it is.

  7. Kinsley Collum says:

    I think a lot of factors go into young people wanting to stay in Mississippi. From just the comfort of the known here to the closeness to family, there are a lot of important reason people would want to stay. I also think the benefits of going to an instate school pull young people to stay. Not having to pay out of state tuition and getting Mississippi scholarships is really appealing to most. As someone who would like to leave the state, the only thing that really stops me is my family.

  8. Lisa Seid says:

    I really enjoyed Flyover, but the end was not something I expected. I wouldn’t even consider it a cliffhanger but something that gives the viewer food for thought. I think there was a lot of vital information missing from the formation of characters, such as her lover. With that sense of unknown, we don’t know if she truly loved him and would give up her dream to stay. I saw myself in Shelby a lot. Older parents want you to care for the home and stay close. I think it’s all apart of growing up, so parents shouldn’t force their child to stay if they don’t want to. It’s not the best position to be in if your thoughts are playing a game of tug of war.

    Very uncommonly, I wouldn’t mind staying in Mississippi. I like the calm, peacefulness of it all. However, this is probably due to me always steering clear of big change. It can get frustrating and sad to look around to see all dilapidated things around you. Mississippi knows of its faults, but it begs us to stay. It wants the younger generation to fix everything about it. That is a big burden to put on people who have grown up learning the faults.

  9. Mira Patel says:

    The end of Flyover leaves room for the audience to think about more possibilities for Shelby and make their own interpretations of the play. For young people to choose Mississippi, I think they must get many opportunities for success in Mississippi. the main reason people choose to leave Mississippi is because they want more doors unlocked for their future. They want to move away from home and create a life for themselves. To choose Mississippi as their home, young people must have many reasons to stay such as good support system, good scholarships for college, and more opportunities for success. Also, some young people look for diversity in the locations the choose to go to school and/or settle down in. Mississippi, unfortunately, has a lack of diversity leading to many people from underrepresented communities choosing to leave and go to a state with more representation of their cultures.

  10. James Talamo says:

    While I was behind a curtain for the showing I made it too, so I didn’t get to really witness the ending, but I do however understand the debate being presented. I am not a MS native, but I am still staying in state against going back to Louisiana for college. I made this choice because I am almost forced to stay close to home for undergrad due to personal responsibilities. If it were up to me however, I would be attending college in Louisiana. There is simply more there. Along with Mississippi’s obvious short comings, there is just a sense of dread that looms here, one of hopelessness. In the future I want to move away, however, I can’t say if I will or not.

  11. Mia Robinson says:

    The play’s ending mirrored how many kids feel about Mississippi and leaving it, uncertain of what their future holds but ready to give it a chance by leaving such a backward state. The only thing that I could see making Mississippi bearable to the majority of the youth here, especially students attending MSMS, is for there to be better opportunities in every aspect of a Mississippian’s livelihood. There should be safer and more entertaining places a parents can easily access for their children. The parks, along with other public places, in our capital of Jackson are nearly all unsafe and littered with trash. A lot of citizens in Mississippi are not taken care of due to the lack of government funding provided and are left to fend for themselves. The educational aspect of life here is in a sorry state and only enforces this cycle of poverty; a fact that most Mississippi youths are coming to realize, but want no part of.

  12. Laya Karavadi says:

    I wish I knew the ending because the whole point of the play was to see if she was going to stay or not. I do love cliffhangers because they allow the viewers to interpret the ending as their own. However, I just like to know the ending, especially when she was battling with staying or leaving the entire time. From my personal experience, I used to not want to stay in Mississippi because of my childhood and just the vibes of the south. However, once I joined MSMS I realized that it’s not all of Mississippi. There are still some good opportunities here in Mississippi for young people. Financially speaking too, it is actually quite nice here. But, I do not think it is easy to convince many young people to want to stay here because it is easy to believe that leaving is the only option to have a good future.

  13. Dyllon Martin says:

    Flyover shows how the culture and ideals of Mississippians haven’t changed. In the short months of Shelby’s return, she is berated by everyone telling her to stay. Her mother, Laurel, is by far the biggest hindrance to Shelby, and by throwing her problems at her daughter, she creates an ultimatum. Begging and pleading with Shelby to stay shows how selfish she truly is. She prioritizes her personal needs at the expense of her daughter’s future, which in some cases further compels the current generation to leave Mississippi. I believe that life as a teenager/young adult in Mississippi is hard since the opportunities aren’t easily accessible as it is in many other states. In terms of the play itself, it was a well-written play that spoke on a current topic. Leaving the conclusion in the hands of the viewer allows for endless possibilities. As for encouraging teens to stay in Mississippi, that is a lost cause, that only has a small chance of working if people changed their views and the state itself grew into a more advanced place for young people to flourish.

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