The tropics have come to Connecticut. The production of Anna in the Tropics I am currently directing opens tomorrow night and I am feeling a mixture of happy, grateful, anxious and nervous.
I’m happy because this cast is phenomenal. They were so dedicated for the entire rehearsal period and their acting is some of the best I have seen at the high school level. I may be biased on that last bit, but my goodness they’ve given me chills a few times. I am also happy that their worst performance was today. As some theatre folk believe, in order to have a successful run, a production needs to have at least 1 bad tech rehearsal. Today was ours and I’m happy about that.
I’m grateful because I get to do something I have always loved to do - entertain people. All my life I have had this need to please people, to have them like me. By nature, entertaining someone asks them to like you outright. There is a sacred bond between the audience and the entertainer that I love to have. It’s why I became a teacher. Every day I get to entertain students with information and literature. The fact that I can continue my career in theatre while also being an educator makes me grateful.
I’m anxious because at this point, there is nothing else I can do for my cast other than offer my fullest support and cheer them on. And while I can easily do that, I hate that I lose my power of control over the show. I’ve molded and created the show to make sure that a sex scene, an attempted rape, and an actual rape is high school friendly - and it is. But the show is ultimately theirs. I just sit in the back and watch now. But that is the silent agreement between a director and his cast. One I don’t think I will ever get used to because it spikes my anxiety.
I’m nervous because I have been sick all week and I don’t want to jinx anything, so I won’t specifically say why I’m nervous. Theatre folk are superstitious. Which I think is a main reason I’m nervous.
But either way you slice it, I’m ready for tomorrow. Although I’ll never get rid of the opening night jitters, I’m going to enjoy them while they’re around - because after all, they don’t come around too often. It’s SHOWTIME.
This week I gave an open notebook vocabulary quiz to my freshmen. Granted the words were SAT words, but I wanted to see what they were capable of. Not one student in either class, that’s about 60 students, got above a nine. A 9 out of 15 was the high score on an open notebook vocabulary quiz. Good thing I have my work cut out for me.
What I noticed though was that they were bombing the part where they have to use context clues to fill in blanks. Context clues, using the words in the sentence to give them the answer, are a big problem for them so it seems. I’m adding a lesson on context clues next week before going into the six elements of literature and read six short stories as examples - I need to see how they read. But I also need to improve their vocabulary, so this is imperative to add in.
Mind you, this is all for a class that has no curriculum yet. We won’t get it until early October. Until then, we are on our own. And it doesn’t help that my 1st period is maxed out at 29 students and my period 6 has 20 hyperactive boys who can’t stay in their seats for more than 20 minutes at a time.
But we’re teachers. We prevail. We do the impossible (and get treated like dirt.) This year is going to be all about catering to the needs of my freshmen. I usually teach seniors, so my three senior classes will be a breeze. I’ll have fun with them like I usually do, while I improve my teaching by focusing on the freshmen. It’s a new challenge and I’m excited for it.
And in other news, we’ve started rehearsals for “Anna in the Tropics” and the cast is perfection. I can’t wait to see them in action on the real stage. Let’s hope for a smooth rehearsal period!
So far this year, that’s the state of the classroom in C107.
It seems I have moved to Freshmen, although I am teaching two upperclass courses. I’m excited for something new! And I’m always looking to improve my African American Literature course. This will be my 4th year teaching it. But of course, teaching in an inner city, this is bound to change at any moment. Such is life.
Period 1 - English Lab (9th grade)
Period 2 - Duty or Free
Period 3 - English Lab (9th grade)
Period 4 - Duty or Free
Period 5 - Playwriting (10-12th grade)
Period 6 - English Lab
Period 7 - African American Literature (12th grade)
Looks like I’ll be teaching every grade this year. I think I’ll be getting an abundance of experience this year. I’m ready - it’s been a really great summer.