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Teaching (Revisited)

March 7, 2012

For those of you who have been keeping up with my Dramaturgical journey, I would like to revisit a topic that had incited comments when it was brought up…Teaching.  At first I had my reservations about taking jobs in schools for reasons already explained (see: To Teach or Not To Teach).  However, after reading all the comments and other blog posts that were generated based off this topic, I decided to give it a try. It’s been a while since I’ve written about myself, so I thought I’d take a moment to fill you in on what I’ve been up to.  I now have three jobs!  All of them for schools, working with students of various ages, and all of them allow me to use my Dramaturgical theatre skills in different ways.  Joy!  The downfall is that most of the time I work all of them in the course of one day.

So let’s follow the progression of a day in the life of me.

From 7am to 1pm I am a Teaching Assistant at a Kindergarten class in a private day school.  Duties include picking the kids up (Yea, I drive a bus), giving them snack, lunch, advice on what is appropriate classroom behavior, etc.  I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too; no theatre stuff!  Well, about a week ago the Principal/Owner of the school came to me before my bus run in the morning and asked: “Don’t you do plays?”  I replied: “Yes I do!”  So she asked me to write a stage adaptation of a children’s book of my choosing for the Kindergarten class to perform at their graduation in June.  I agreed and have been sifting through my children’s literature collection for a good fit. (In case you were wondering, the answer is yes, I do organize my personal library according to genre and then sub-classification that only I can decode from then on).

Onto my afternoon!

From 2-4pm I work for a High School Theatre program.  In fact I have been dubbed the Dramaturg for all their productions thanks to my former teacher, mentor, and current friend.  She was hired as an English/Drama teacher my senior year of high school (oh, did I mention I work at the high school I graduated from? No, well, I do).  When I was a student there we did one musical and one drama that was performed by the one drama class that was offered.  Since then, she has transformed this program into what I can only think to classify as a very youthful regional theatre.  The program now has three drama classes, one of which is a College level drama lit class! In addition to the musical, which ran for four performances and played to a full house every night, and the drama which she commissioned a playwright to write an original work for her class this year (so excited!), she now does a Shakespeare! We could barely get our English class to read Shakespeare, let alone get the administration to allow us to perform it.  So we are currently rehearsing a scene from Much Ado About Nothing to be presented a the Shakespeare festival at…wait for it… My Alma Mater!…Hofstra!  So, not only do I get to work with my old High School teacher but now we get to revisit my old college professors as well.  When people told me that life has a way of taking on a circular form, I didn’t think they meant literally coming back to the physical people and places you knew in your youth.

High School program acknowledgements:

And my day isn’t over yet!

From 5-7:30pm I am the Director of a Middle School musical production.  I know, I know, I’m a Dramaturg.  And this blog is for me to talk about my life in Dramaturgy.  But when the High School director/mentor I’m working with in the afternoons called me up to tell me about a job ad she saw in the NY Times, she said: “Take it! It’s money for theatre!”  She was right, as usual, and helped me to work out all those tiny details that distinguish a Dramaturg’s book from a Director’s book (oddly enough both take up the same amount of space in a three-inch binder).  The dynamic is completely different, the students are completely different, but the “stuff” is the same.  You know, the “stuff” theatre is made of.  For me, in this metaphysical place in my life right now, that’s all that matters.  Last year I had made zero dollars for theatre work.  This year the dollars paid actually match the hours of work done; and it’s only February!  Well, I did say in my last Green Room post that I think this year is going to be good, and so far, it has.

At this time I would also like to point out that all work times noted in this post are 100% accurate.  Notice how there is only 2 hours unaccounted for 1pm-2pm and 4pm-5pm.  During these times I am en route to the jobs that follow with brief stops for coffee along the way.  Though it is extremely tiring, I fall asleep at night feeling accomplished.  Everyone who commented on my former posts was right!  Thank you for opening my eyes to a world I was unsure of.  The students that I work with are amazing.  When I told the Kindergarten class I was making a play for them, they all jumped up and cheered as if I told them cake was on the lunch menu from now on.  My Middle School cast is so willing to make our show great that they have all asked to help build sets and costumes when they are not onstage.  But the students who have really given me the greatest emotional reward are from the High School.  When our musical closed, a few select students came up to me with arms outstretched and tears in their eyes.  Their words were of thanks and inspiration and appreciation for the work that I’d done with them.  I couldn’t help but feel that this is what I’ve been looking for all along.  I didn’t get this from my professors or colleagues. But in my mind these students are extraordinary!  At least three of them thanked me in their bios and have asked me to work with them on their college auditions.   Getting to use the skills acquired through years of schooling is one reward I won’t give up without a fight.  You see, all of these jobs are for schools, which means they all end come June.  So, as these next few weeks of 12 hour work days continue, I will now have to incorporate a new timeslot: 8-10pm I am a Job Hunter.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. The Reflective Artist permalink
    March 7, 2012 7:53 am

    This is wonderful! Not only are you getting paid to work on theatre, you are shaping young lives and helping provide theatre and all its trappings as a part of the foundation of who these people will become–regardless of whether or not they choose theatre as a profession. My family and friends have influenced my lives to a large degree, but I still feel like the people who really made me look at myself and forced me to grow were my teachers. And to them I will always be indebted and grateful. I’m sure some of your students will be, too!

  2. Jessica Reed permalink
    March 7, 2012 3:17 pm

    That is amazing, Lynde! I can’t believe how much Wantagh High School’s theater department has changed since we’ve left it… Sounds like you’re having a fantastic time.

  3. Mr. David Dubin permalink
    March 7, 2012 8:16 pm

    Actually we always did four productions a year; a drama that was performed by one of the Drama classes as its final project; a musical, open to all students; a tour play which we brought to the district’s elementary schools, and a fourth production that was either a play or an evening of improvisational theater. We maintained that full schedule for over 20 years.

  4. March 11, 2012 5:26 pm

    Wonderful Post! It’s inspiring to read about your passion and ENERGY! I love that you have your own personal children’s lit collection too!!

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