Today was a good day!
I woke up really early feeling awfully nervous about how my high school drama class' play was going to go. This is my "mixed" class, containing students in grades 6, 7, 9, and 10. Not only is hard to teach a drama class to students in four grades who don't even know what drama is, the odds stacked against us were thus:
A) During yesterday's rehearsal, my students still didn't have their lines memorized.
B) We had a 25 minute window in which to perform, but the play has been dragging at 35 minutes because of forgotten lines.
C) Normally I schedule lunchtime performances on days when students have my class right before lunch so that when the audience enters the auditorium the kids are all dressed, miked, and ready to go. But today I couldn't. We had only 25 minutes to get ready, which, if you've ever taught middle school kids, you will know is not enough time.
D) Somehow, I also had to feed the kids, but fifteen minutes before the pizza was supposed to arrive, the receptionist called and told me she forgot to order it. (This is the second time this has happened. It only just occurred me to now that I speak enough Korean to do this myself. I order food to my place all the time, so why can't I order pizza to the school? Why did I never think of this before? Anyway, I digress.)
E) The elementary students were practicing for their own concert in the auditorium that morning, which meant that I would have no time to set up the set pieces in advance.
F) We were performing for the high school students, who are all nice kids individually, but when you put them together they have to be the most apathetic group of people in existence. Moreover, they don't really know what Drama is so they tend to be reticent about embracing it. How were they going to react to the show?
I was gnawing on my nails all through my morning classes thinking of this, but seriously, the timing turned out to be so beautifully orchestrated that I couldn't have planned it better. Firstly, my students in the pre-lunch class finished their debates with five minutes to spare, so I sent them to lunch early, giving me precious time to put the set together. Then, my students' middle school teachers graciously released them early so that they could come to prepare. That meant that by the time the bell went, half my cast was already dressed. That first half did mike check while the later arrivals dressed, and just as we were finishing up, the belated pizza arrived! I gave my kids their pep talk during the impromptu lunch in my classroom, and by the time our audience started to trickle in from the cafeteria, they were fully ready to go.
My students' performance was just bang on and the audience loved it. They clapped, they cheered, they laughed, they oohed and aahed. My students were stunned by their peers' reaction. (I was too- because, well, usually they don't react to anything.) This is their first big show in front of an audience, and they weren't expecting that. They held up well. Some lines were forgotten or missed, but they covered every mishap, and the play actually ended up running just under time. It just went beautifully! I think the kids are really excited to do the play again on Monday for the middle school students. They will be the first group in the history of my school to do the same performance twice, so I think it will be a real growing experience for them.
Still, I can't help but feel that the high school show was the most important. Next year, Drama will be mandatory for all middle school students, but it remains optional for high school students. Most high school students have emphatically avoided it because it was unfamiliar and Korean teenagers are shy about appearing on stage. But I feel like, because of that play, high school students are starting to understand why Drama is important and beneficial. I hope that some will sign up for it.
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