Monday, July 25, 2016

Almost, Maine - a labor of love

This past spring I had the pleasure for helping the students of Central High School and their director, my friend, Jeff Witt, create the production of Almost, Maine.  The format was a production class.  It is uncommon to have a class complete a full production.  However, we have been successful at Central High School in producing 4 productions using the Production Class format.  In the process, I have created a manual to help the students understand each step of the production process, the roles each person on the production team has within the process, and a grading strategy to help assess their progress.  My manual is a work in process.  Maybe someday I will feel comfortable enough to share it with theatre teachers.  Meanwhile, I volunteer my time with these great teens and their teacher whom I adore.

Each student involved is assigned a "tech" role as well as an acting role.  Students design posters, advertising campaigns, sets, lights, costumes, props, etc.  

I, as the tech director for the school, and their drama teacher help them accomplish their assignments.

Some things go well as we "gently" prod them along.  Somethings fall flat.

The biggest success I see in this approach is that each student is beginning to develop a real respect for the process and the sacrifices the adults make to ensure each production is a success.  The students are developing a mutual respects, actor to techie, and more unity has developed within our drama department.

They are also learning skills they never thought they would.  Some had never picked up a paint brush or a power tool.  Now they know what to do with them.

They learned how to save the budget by pulling from stock...

They learned different ways to add texture using paint...

They learned to work together...

They learned how color works to enhance the production's look...

They learned to move sets quickly and quietly...

They learned the importance of meeting deadlines...

They learned how to analysis a script looking for design elements, themes, character hints, and underlying meanings....

They learned more about interpersonal relationships...

They learned how to identify what they have in common with their character and how to use that to develop character...

They learned that sometimes they may not like something but when they stick to it they will discover amazing things about themselves...

They learned to push through hardship...  Nearly every student involved in this production had something hard to deal with in life and learned to leave it at the door and put their heart into their character on stage...

They learned that love isn't easy...

They learned that love is worth it...

They learned that love takes work... 

They learned that love holds surprises... 

They learned that they could do hard things...

They learned that they can recover from pain... through love...

They learned to ask questions...

They learned that love takes time...

They learned that when they let go great things happen... 

Almost, Maine is set in a fictional town buried in snow.  The play is a series of nine vignettes about love and is knee deep in whimsy.

The show isn't a white-out of cutesy... it is packed with wit, earns its laughs and. like love, surprises you.  There are deep moments that cause you to examine your own relationships and moments of humor that cause you to belly laugh.

The trick is to find the balance.  The playwright thought, "If it's only funny, it's terrible.  If it's only cute it's terrible.  If it's only serious it's terrible... "  I would have to agree.

The cool thing is, these kids were able to find the balance with the serious and the humor.

I was so proud of them!

It takes great courage to let yourself be vulnerable.

These kids are courageous...

These kids are talented...  these kids have captured my heart.


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