Hey Teach!

March 16, 2010 at 6:31 pm (Uncategorized)

Today was the first day of my “pre-residency”, which served as an opportunity to introduce the play and the project to the kids.

Can I make a confession to y’all?

It was way too easy.  (Please don’t let these be my famous last words.)

There are a number of factors that contributed to this, which include, but are not limited to:

  1. The play that we’re teaching is wonderful.  The director described it as a party onstage that everyone is invited to, and I can’t think of a better description.  It’s smart, it’s funny, and it’s captivating.  Music plays a big part in the storytelling, and two of the characters even rap.  As far as trying to find an access point to get the kids interested in the play, there were a lot of things that they latched right on to when we were reading it.  Speaking of the play, that brings us to…
  2. The playwright is a freaking Puerto Rican theatrical rockstar.  The breakdown of the high school where I’m teaching is about 50/50 Puerto Rican and Mexican, so reading a great play, by a fellow Latino is empowering and awesome as hell.  Speaking of Latinos…
  3. I’m one too.  I’m not saying it makes me a better teacher, but on some level I think I’m automatically more relatable.  The classroom teacher for one of the classes was trying to explain to them what a bodega was, and a couple of them caught my eye and gave me these looks like, “What a gabacho.”  As someone who suffered a minor identity crisis when trying to fill out my Census form yesterday (Hispanic isn’t a race?! Does this mean I’m just White?! What am I?!), this made me feel much better.
  4. The kids are good.  They’ve got some misdirected energy, but I didn’t get a nasty vibe from either of my two classes.  I sensed a lot of interest in the project, and even those that didn’t seem excited were mostly respectful, which is more of a start than I’ve heard from some other teaching artists.  There was even one boy who asked for two scripts, so that he could find someone to run lines with him at home.  That warmed my heart, big time.

All of my expectations for the first day of class were exceeded, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start this experience.  Am I worried it’s not always going to be as easy as it was today? Of course I am.  I assume that there will be times when this project is tough as all get out.  I already had one girl talk to me after class about how much she liked acting, but how she’d had to drop out of the last play she’d tried to be in.  I asked her why, and she said there was drama.  I pressed on, thinking it was the silly stuff I’d encountered as a high school thespian, but she said, matter-of-factly, that three girls had jumped her.  Crap.  I told her that this time things would be different, and I really hope that’s true.

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