There is no try, only do…okay, we’ll settle for try.

April 8, 2010 at 6:17 am (Uncategorized)

Explaining the importance of risk-taking to high school students is a daunting task.  Explaining the importance of risk-taking to pseudo-disinterested at-risk high school students is an even more daunting task.  When you’re a teenager, the most important thing to focus on is being cool.  In retrospect, I was a horribly uncool teen, but even I still spent an inordinate amount of time trying to keep with the status quo so I didn’t seem too dorky.  (I don’t know how I could have spent as much time as I did trying to be cool, yet still have managed to be so monumentally geeky.)  You avoid doing anything that might shatter the illusion of coolness that you have going on.  You especially do that if being detached and not caring are lauded amongst your friends, as is the case with many of the students I teach.  So what’s a teaching artist to do?

Well, I’m trying to figure that out.  It’s frustrating, I’ll tell you that much.  I think some of it will come with time, but again that’s frustrating seeing as how this is a relatively short residency.  I’ve already seen some of the kids come around, and it’s awesome.  In my second class, there is a girl who started the class as a smart-ass who didn’t seem to be in the habit of doing her work, but now that the class has gotten into the play she’s a rockstar.  She’s been reading for one of the lead roles, she backs me up when her classmates get too rowdy, and she took a huge risk in class yesterday by trying to read lines in a new accent.  In my other class I had some students who didn’t actively participate, but when myself and the other teaching artist approached them about acting, they seemed pleased to be asked, and actually looked pretty excited about it.

I think I want these kids to just instantly change their mindsets and realize, “Hey!  Theatre is awesome and relevant to my life!  I want to play a part in this glorious art form!”  But in reality, that’s not how it’s going to go down.  I’m going to have to work my butt off to try to keep the kids interested, and I’m also going to have to realize that it may be difficult or impossible with some of them.  But I sure as hell am going to keep trying.

***

While we’re on the topic of risk-taking, I recently wrote a rap about Rick Bayless to workshop along with some of my solo material, and at the encouragement of some of the other performers, I laid down a track of the rap to send to Mr. Bayless.  I was way nervous about doing this for many reasons, the least of which being that Rick Bayless might hate my rap and ban me from ever again eating in one of his emporiums of deliciousness, however, I forced myself to share the rap with him, and much to my surprise and delight, he chose to share the rap with all 41,000+ of his Twitter followers.  AY DIOS MIO.

If you click through on the image, you can go and listen to the rap, if you so desire.  I doubt Ludacris will hear it and invite me to duet on his next “Battle of the Sexes” album, but it’s alright for a mild-mannered twenty-something.

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