We’re back! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Our family has just survived musical season (this year we did the Rogers and Hammerstein classic South Pacific) and the week or two that it takes to recover from it.
During production week for the musical I spend more hours at the school than I do all year, but I would be content to stay even longer than I do.
I am a teacher, but my job is unique. I teach high school choir. Many teachers do not get to see the results of their work aside from grading homework and tests. Even then, you don’t always know for sure if they “got it.”
When it’s performance time, I get to see if they “got it.” I get to watch 60 kids pour their heart and soul out on the stage using the skills I taught them this semester.
All semester, the theatre teacher, the fabulous Melody Allen, and I have worked, stressed, obsessed, prayed, and fretted over teaching our students how to be excellent actors and singers. We have pushed them, prodded them, and sometimes provoked them to go the extra mile to live up to their full potential. We get frustrated, we get angry, we see them try things and fail. We wonder why we ever decided to do this to ourselves. Wouldn’t it be easier to just teach math? Your emotions don’t have to get wrapped up in equations. (Ok, maybe they do for my friends in the math hall. I just don’t see it.)
About three weeks before any performance I experience the most doubt about the show. Every year, I just know that they’re never going to get it right. Then I get to pitch a big fit about their work ethic.
How many of you actually practiced at home this week?! (Very few hands raise.) That’s what I thought! It’s obvious you have not been practicing at home! Do you care about your show? I’m not the one that’s going to be on stage…it’s going to be you. Is THIS what you want to look like? Is THIS what you want to sound like?
One of the little perks of being a teacher of the arts is that, for some reason, you get a free pass to pitch the occasional fit. These fits of rage become legendary. Seniors have learned to sit there and take it and then push the underclassmen to pull it together. Freshmen are horrified, but come back after the show is over and thank you for getting mad because they know they really weren’t performing to their potential. My family loves to compare war stories about infamous choir directors who have stormed out of rehearsals, thrown shoes, and singled out people for making the same mistake over and over. (One disclaimer: my wonderful choir director from college…the shoe thrower…taught us that you don’t have the right to throw a shoe unless you have an even bigger positive reaction when they get it right. These fits aren’t to hurt them, but to make them realize that after months of working on the same music or scenes, there is still work to do.)
And then…it’s production week.
The frustration is gone. The anxiety is gone. Our work is done. It’s up to them. We get to see the same students who couldn’t get their lyrics right or their entrances on time rise above themselves and become a family of seasoned performers. There’s nothing quite like live theatre. Anything can and does happen, but they, people who may not otherwise be associated, take it all in stride. They face the challenges together, lift up each other, and cry like babies when it’s all over.
Oh yeah…I almost forgot…this blog is about not going out to eat. Since I got to school all week at 7:45am and didn’t leave until 11:00pm most of the week, it would have been so easy to go and pick up fast food between school and performance.
over and over