Worked with two high school classes on two different plays today: a Christmas play with grade nines, and an abstract subtext play with grade 12’s. Of course, I was apprehensive about the younger kids and they were generally great. The Christmas play depends on acting silly and I was surprised at how easily the group was able to do that. They caught on instantly.
I learned of an important change in the subtext play – one of the character gets only one word to say throughout the whole play (“hi”) and it’s the subtext that changes the meaning. At the beginning of the play the character is standing by herself, practicing the different ways she might say “hi” to a boy that she likes. The stage directions don’t indicate that I want the character to pause between each particular “Hi” to show the character thinking furiously of the best one. A number of girls did this moment in the class and all but one did the “hi’s” in fast succession without pausing. A perfect example of why plays need to be seen and heard during the writing process.
This group is also working on another play of mine Power Play for class and they showed me a scene they were working on. They were very enthusiastic about it, which was great to see. They were also receptive to feedback which is not always the case! They are hoping to get it together enough to present it for their school in June and I hope they do it.
The teacher told me that she likes our plays because the students really gravitate to them. That’s the best compliment I could ever get! It’s interesting – I am writing for the students, I want them to spark an interest for them. I want them to like and get excited by what they’re performing. But I also have to write for the teachers as they are the ones who choose the plays. A complicated balance.