My summer ended already… Oh sure, I’m still not in school teaching, but as of three weeks ago my summer as a person pretending to not be a teacher ended. First… let me tell you that as Homestead’s Theatre Teacher, my summers had been traditionally filled with grad school classes seven days a week, but finally I was free! The beginning part of this summer was filled being busy thinking of anything but high school theatre, until finally my Drama Club Presidents hunted me down.
The last week of July I sat down with the three ladies who make up the 2016-2017 Drama Club E-Board (Lonnae, Emma and Emily). They had already been planning the fun events for the year, so for them this meeting was just to get approvals. Let me tell you, they have some amazing things planned for the upcoming year! Check out the calendar for 1st Trimester here!
At this meeting I confessed I still didn’t have a One Act play chosen for our fall competition season. Emma and some other students have been pushing for a physical theatre play and on that day she suggested that the One Act class create their own play. Her idea was taking a Greek myth and recreating it. Lonnae jumped on the idea as well. I smiled and as they continued to speak about ideas, I started thinking that this could be feasible.
“Just wait Figg,” Emma promised, “We’ll have a story by Wednesday.”
Low and behold, two days later I was bombarded with nine students at Colectivo (I currently am without internet, so I have to do all my work in public). I didn’t expect much, so when they presented me a poster board of images, words and arrows I was impressed. Then they whipped out a laptop and opened a script they’d started writing! A conversation was opened up with the nine students present as more brainstorming evolved. It was at this moment that my smile grew and I just sat back watching the magic happen. The students tossed around ideas from former productions and spoke of rehearsal techniques utilized in past classes. I did that. Ok, yeah, that could sound conceded, but as a teacher I just did my job. I gave my students the tools to get to this point. These students had been thrown head first into devised theatre projects, ridiculous dance combinations and lots of physical theatre for years. They knew how to create and had the motivation to do so. My work was done, no longer was I needed. So I sat back and listened to their ideas, giving input when asked.
At that meeting it was decided that they wanted to meet to create movement sequences before school started. So, meetings at parks started taking shape (our Black Box Theatre and Auditorium are both under construction). One student started composing music, sending us his ideas and creating themes for the characters. Another student started sketching costume ideas and still more students researched the myth behind our ideas.
These dedicated students haven’t stopped, they are still meeting and brainstorming, writing their script and designing the costumes and set pieces. This is why I teach, to see this happen, to allow these moments to be possible for anyone. One of my former students, a Junior at Evansville University for Theatre told me of all his plans for their theatre department in the next two years and his plans for life beyond Academia. They are immense, but wonderful. “I know it’s ambitious, but I want to try,” He smiled as I shook my head and told him I didn’t expect anything less. He looked at me, “You know I’m like this largely because of you. You motivated me and allowed me carryout my thoughts. You are a huge part of my ambition today.” Thats theatre. Theatre challenges and deconstructs a human in ways that other high school classes don’t and it allows for an outlet to create anything, to be anyone. It allows a full education and allows for students to become their own teacher.
If I can get one student to become motivated in their education I would be satisfied, but this year I’ve already seen nine students take education into their own hands, and school hasn’t even started. I don’t feel annoyed meeting my students at various parks around Mequon before I’ve started being paid for the school year, how could I when I have students begging to learn and create.
If this year is going to be anything like the past three weeks, I can’t wait for the school year to start!
Written by: Amelia Figg-Franzoi
HHS Theatre Teacher