My Experience with High School Theater…from the Other Side of the Curtain

12639509004_c686e4f962By Kelly Koreck – “Romeo, oh Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name…”

I could keep going if you wanted me to – through the rest of the balcony scene, through the deaths and Tybalt and Mercutio, and all the way until the Prince utters his final words of the show. It is only natural that I can recite these scenes almost in their entirety after living in the world of Verona for the last two months.

One of my main goals for student teaching was to get involved in some way with the theatre department at whatever school I ended up at. Theatre was such an important part of my own high school experience that I wanted to have the chance to provide that same experience for my students. Therefore I was thrilled when I learned that my school was putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet this semester and that I would have the chance to take on an assistant director role. It has been such a valuable experience, and I have been able to get so much out of the work I have done over the last two months.

I’ve learned that you can never underestimate the power a group of people can have when they put their minds together and focus on a common goal. I would be lying if I said that there was never a time that the director and I worried about whether or not there was going to be show for opening night. But every time we began to have of these doubts, our cast came right back and showed us what they could do. They put their time and their dedication into this show, and it is not an easy show to begin with.

Shakespeare in itself is a difficult text to work with, but that challenge can be multiplied two-fold when it is taken on by students like mine. The cast of this show is made up of students who came into high school reading at a low grade level and many whose first language is not English. To see them take on the challenge of Shakespeare and be as successful as they are makes my heart swell. They are the first to bring a production of Shakespeare to my school and they could not be doing a better job stepping up to that challenge.

I have also learned how important it is to get involved at the school you are teaching at because it gives you the chance to connect with your students in a way that simply cannot happen if you only see them in the classroom. One of the great things about theatre is that you spend so much time with the same group of people that you cannot help but develop a relationship with them. Now the kids in the cast see me not just as the teacher who stands up in the front of the room to lecture on trig identities, but also as someone who they can feel comfortable coming to talk to if they need to. Without the play, none of those connections would have been made, and I would have lost out on the chance of getting to know all of these great kids the way I do now.

Sure, it would have been a lot easier to just focus on student teaching – after all, that is a full time job in itself. But I would not trade the long nights, exhausting tech week, or missed home cooked meals for anything in the world. My kids put their all into this show, and I could not be prouder of the production that they are bringing to the community this weekend. It’s wonderful to see what happens when so many people come together to create something like this – it’s the magic of theatre.

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