It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, for all of us… my kids, my friends and me.
I’ve been teaching at Homestead for 4 years now and have grown close with my students in ways many teachers probably don’t and many people probably don’t understand. Last week a few teachers told me to allow myself to step back and live my own life. They were referencing the grief the theatre department was experiencing after the loss of one of our own. They were assuming the students were going to grieve more then me. They were assuming these students were just that, students.
They assumed wrong.
Theatre is always an odd way to live, but with me and my kids it’s something the rest of the school probably will never get. Most teachers see their students for an hour a day… me? I will see my students probably more then their parents see them, eating lunch and dinner with these kids at least.
Since school started, my life is now there’s. I have become the teacher, friend, mentor and parent… all between the hours of 7am and 8pm, five to seven days a week. And there really is no way to step back, unless I want to be a “ok Director.” Theatre is all about trust, the actors have to trust the director in order to open up and actually emote. The Black Box and Theatre are safe places to be and I’m a safe person to talk to. I know about family troubles, relationship troubles, happiness and sadness. Even when my students graduate they stay in contact, asking for my “wisdom.” There is a magic that happens down here, more so then a sports team, for in theatre if one person is missing the whole thing falls apart, we lean on each other and allow ourselves to leaned upon.
Summer is our only break from each other, and sometimes I don’t even get that. So from the months of September to June, I have 123 kids ranging from the age of 14-18 and I care for each one. From the months of September to June I am apart of a family that is epically close to one another and feed on each others energies. From the months of September to June I answer to such names as Figg, Sport, Director and Mom. It’s something I’ve come to terms with, not having a personal life, it’s something anyone involved in theatre comes to terms with when working on a show. But it’s something people outside of theatre don’t understand.
So, when I was told to step back and let my students grieve I wanted to punch them. Not only am I grieving the loss of one of my children, someone I watched grow for four years into the most amazing human being and caring adult, I’m watching all my other children grieve for him as well. I watch helplessly as these kids try to put the pieces back, pieces that will never go back in the proper way anymore.
When we cry, we cry together, when we laugh, we light up a room collectively. One person’s problems affects everyone. There is no “I” in theatre, and my “personal” life is very much connected to my theatre life. Their might come a day when it does not, but that day will mark the day when the HHS theatre department no longer exists as it does now… something that won’t happen for a long time.
Teaching theatre is my passion, it brings me joy and reason. So yes, it’s very much my life.