Adventures of a Drama Teacher

{January 19, 2008}   working it out…

The week at school went better by the day. Of course there are always irritants but when I am with the students I am really in my element. Each day the children’s theatre class rehearsals went better and better to the point I am hopeful I won’t be embarrassed. They even made efforts to come in and rehearse at lunch time (which meant I didn’t get to eat, but hey that’s okay!)

I helped out a bit at the elementary school disco even though Mo wouldn’t participate (parents help a lot more with elementary than high school) as I finally have time and they are constantly seeking volunteers. Then Mo went to spend the night with Axel and I forced myself to go to a cocktail party, and although it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t boring either. It was nice to chat with people at school that I never really get to talk to because being in the PAC (Performing Arts Center) we (me especially) are distanced and separate from the rest of the school.

I brought the sewing machine home and will work on costumes today. I will be happy when children’s theatre is over so my 9th grade classes can help get the shop back in clean and tidy order. It is still a paint mess from UTDS and the middle school’s production.

Friday some of my nemesis 10th graders actually apologized to me for how they treated me at the beginning of the year. I think they are coming around. They are doing decent jobs (relatively speaking) on the Shakespeare project. My 11th graders are slacking and I don’t like that. They are far too social and aren’t getting their projects done on time which will put the next unit behind. My 9th graders are focusing finally now that their performance date is looming and my 12th graders are coming up with some pretty decent ideas for their “Theatre in the world” presentation/lessons. A Swedish girl is going to teach us the New Zealand rugby Haka and I suggested for the American girl who is doing Peking Opera to teach us how to apply the mask-style make-up. Each student has a different obscure (to us) theatrical tradition to teach to the class and then they have to adapt a previous piece/poem to that style. After this we are going into a Bunraku puppetry unit. My 11th graders will work on directing a musical review. The 10th graders will work on realism next 9th grade (after shop clean-up will write their own musical scenes. This part of my life is great!

Maybe I can motivate myself to go for a run. It is soooooo gloomy and wet outside I doubt it, I guess I’ll just dance inside and wake my noisy neighbors.



MO: Why do we have to go to Germany?

MOM: So we can say we’ve been there.

MO: I refuse to smile in any pictures.

MOM: That is until we find something about dog poop.

JUDITH: Look Mo, exit is called “ausfahrt.”

MO: No farting in the house? 

{January 12, 2008}   Job offer?

I don’t think I have written anything about a job offer in here…. News to me. Don’t worry though, if that is/were the case I would share it as soon as I knew any facts.

There it was in my mailbox this morning; the memo asking if I planned to come back next year. Answer has to be in no later than March 1st.  Funny how when I think I might go or stay there are several frustrations that make me WANT to leave.

 First and foremost the schedule that is sporadic; every day is different for two week periods. I never see the same faces at the same time or even everyday. Sometimes I go four days without seeing a class. Then there’s the lack of team work with no stagecraft class so nothing can get done. And all the kids with so many activities they cannot BE my DRAMA GEEKS. Even the drama geeks now have wrestling, and singing lesson etc.etc.

 I miss my drama geeks. 

I have no control over tech. I like the tech guy but he isn’t super helpful. I am afraid to ask him to do anything. I am in hopes I even finally get my UTDS video/DVD to send into the university to complete my masters. 

Without a consistent schedule or after school rehearsals we just can’t get any momentum going for the children’s theatre.  

One good thing though, two of the tenth graders who did children’s theatre last year said our sets and props are better than theirs were. Let’s hope the play will pull it together. Three weeks until D-day and we still haven’t rehearsed the last scene of Peter Pan. Remind me to never have the class write their own plays again, this just took up too much time and was frustrating. (Although when my advanced drama class from Shepherd wrote theirs the play turned out wonderful! Remember Culture Cruise? The writing of it was equally frustrating though). If I had just gone with an already written script maybe it would have been better. But then there are royalties AND not many scripts with 16-20 characters, believe me I looked. In my defense but no excuse is that my focus was also split in too many directions (UTDS, IB Theatre trips and lessons, new school, new country, etc. etc and the kids did vote on wanting to do it this way, I was all set to do Wilde Tales by Oscar Wilde).  

I just want to do a good job.

{January 7, 2008}   Where are the Drama Geeks?

“Where the ‘h-e-double hockey sticks’ are all the drama-baits to help?
What happened to all the geeks that would do anything, (make sets, props and costumes) just to be around the theater.
Find the geeks! We had them in
There must be some drama-geeks around there somewhere.
   Writes a reader I believe must have went to my high school in Oregon. Yes, we had drama-baits galore, me being one of them, and I had them too at my school in AZ. Here the school is so small (900 from pre-k thu 12) we share the students with every other activity (sports, choir, orchestra, Russian lessons, clubs, charities, International Baccalaureate CAS hours well as homework) That is why they are not hanging out “tout le temps” after school helping me like back home. Some do, but today was after school “dance” and they were all there. On the weekends their parents sweep them off to places like Rome and London. It’s a whole different ballgame here. 

First day back after Christmas break and although the day wasn’t great, it was good for my demeanor. It is “A” week, so today being my easiest day of a rotating two week schedule. The Internet was down all day and my personal computer at school still wasn’t working at the end of the day which kept me from getting all the things done that I wanted to. I did realize that both my Ryobi cordless drills were “lifted” “nicked,” “pilfered,” “swiped,” “taken,” “stolen,” or maybe just “borrowed” and not brought back. This makes my life difficult as there is still tons of clean-up in the shop to do, and the upcoming children’s theatre may need them as well. 

My major problem with children’s theatre and the school in general, is that the schedule is sporadic, so I don’t see my 9th graders everyday, and the classes are only 40 minutes so too short to rehearse AND make sets, props and costumes, and I certainly don’t have a stagecraft class to get that stuff done either. I just can’t do it all myself, and the show will be lacking because of it. Not my best and after how great my last show was (thanks to my friend Gregg and him putting in three weeks of sixteen hour days) I don’t want anyone to be disappointed, and I feel they will be. I keep telling the students that these little shows are all about the acting, not the set, and if THEY are really big, with loads of enthusiasm it will sell. Please, oh please! A rather large photo of Up the Down Staircase  took up the entire cover of the most recent alumni magazine though! 

I feel like if I leave and don’t stay at least another year, I will be letting people down. Mo has friends here. But I am so homesick I feel awful, so I don’t know what to do? I may go see the school councilor or principal if it keeps up.

Happy New Year Everyone! Although I had lost 15 lbs shortly after I got here, after my show was over, I soon gained it back. What with all the Christmas goodies and chocolate and the fact that I really don’t like the food here, I mean who likes Foie Gras anyway? It really is nothing but cat food! So I eat pastries, waffles, chocolate and Coca Cola Light (Diet Coke Belgian style). My comfort food is Pizza Hut or McDonald’s (which really doesn’t taste the same as in America) but brings me closer to home. Oh what I wouldn’t do for some El Pollo Loco!

Mo and I managed to see some movies over the break: I am Legend– you go Will Smith! Actually, I wanted to see this one for several reasons: It was a remake of a favorite when I was a kid, The Omega Man with Charlton Heston. I loved all those Charlton Heston movies such as Soilent Green, The Planet of the Apes, and The Ten Commandments! “Soilent Green is made out of PEOPLE!” So don’t eat it. Probably better than Foie Gras. 

We also saw Enchanted. I LOVED this movie!! It is a perfect Tomi movie. I am such a girly-girl romantic at heart. It will go on my top ten. And National Treasure Two. I do like Nicholas Cage and also the one liners of the guy who plays his sidekick in this series. This movie makes me want to become a history professor! 

Our trip to the UK was uneventful, but really a good thing for Mo and his grandparents. As I guestion on a daily basis, especially when I get homesick-why I am here? Why was I led here by a serendipitous job opening only hours after I stated, “Wouldn’t it be cool to work at St. John’s in Belgium?” I realize at least Mo has gotten to know his grandparents.  

Not that I don’t love my job, I do-the job is challenging and I am learning a lot more about theatre through it. But I am sooo homesick! Good thing tomorrow we are back to school.

et cetera