Episode 162: Drama Teachers: Tips for Travelling with Students
Does the thought of taking 30 or more students to New York or London sound exciting or like a nightmare? At some point in every teacher’s life where they are faced with the daunting task of planning a trip. Where do you start? How do you avoid issues? Lisa Houston is a pro at traveling with students. In this podcast she gives her tips, tricks, fundraising suggestions for making your next travel experience smooth sailing.
Welcome to TFP – The Theatrefolk Podcast – the place to be for Drama teachers, Drama students, and Theatre educators everywhere.
I’m Lindsay Price, resident playwright for Theatrefolk.
Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening!
You have reached Episode 162 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode162.
So, it’s summertime! Everyone is taking it easy! Maybe going to the beach, maybe going camping, doing a little bit of travel. It’s kind of funny because – funny for me, maybe funny for no one else on the planet but – here, at TFolk Global Headquarters, summer is the time when we travel the least. We do it so much for work during the year, and then, if we’re going to choose when we go away for a vacation, it’s going to be in May because May is the month that nobody wants to hear from us or talk to us because everything is winding down. Once June or July, people are starting to get all into their year again. But May? May is dead so it’s perfect for travel.
But enough about me. Let’s get into the podcast and the question of the podcast which is: “How do you successfully – without heartburn and heartache – travel with a group of students?” How do you plan and implement trips to, say, New York or London? You want to take your students to New York, to Broadway, to see the sights, see the shows.
We have a teacher, Lisa Houston, who is a pro at traveling with students and she is here to give you tips, tricks, and she’s even got a post-trip reflection that students can do. I know!
All right, let’s get to it.
LINDSAY: All right, I am here with Lisa Houston.
LISA: Hi! How are you?
LINDSAY: I’m all right.
Tell everybody where you are in the world.
LISA: I am in Pennington, New Jersey, which is a small town outside of Princeton, New Jersey. We are sort of halfway between New York and Philadelphia.
LINDSAY: Ooh! It’s always interesting to me when people say where they are and, in my head, I’m like, “Hmm… I have no idea where that is,” but your visual was perfect.
LINDSAY: How long have you been a teacher?
LISA: I have been a teacher… this is my 20th year of being a teacher. I’ve been at Pennington actually all of those years.
LINDSAY: Wow! Okay. So, you’re dug in.
LISA: I am. I’m here to stay.
LINDSAY: Ah, that’s awesome!
LINDSAY: So, what is it about being a teacher, being a Drama teacher that connects to you?
LISA: Well, I love creative projects, first of all. You know, doing Drama is always a creative project – whether it’s just something small in class – a small scene or even a page of dialogue. And then, of course, staging shows is a passion of mine. Like, I just love creating worlds and following through with that.
LINDSAY: Cool! I love that notion and it must be a wonderful thing to pass on to your students- that one of the things that we get to do is create a world.
LINDSAY: Very cool.
We’re going to talk about something a little bit different but I know that this is a topic that is of great interest to a lot of our listeners. It’s something that happens with the Drama students but happens outside of the classroom and that is traveling with your students.
I know a lot of teachers who take students to New York and you traveled a little farther afield than that. You went to London.
LISA: Right. New York, for us, is just a day trip.
LINDSAY: It’s your backyard.
LISA: Yeah, that’s our normal jam.
So, we just came back from a ten-day trip to London and we also went outside of the city and paired up with a school. So, we got to sort of do two things in one which was awesome.
LINDSAY: Let’s go through this whole thing about what it’s like.
How many students did you take?
LISA: We took 24 students and 4 chaperones.
Our school has a pretty well-established global studies program. In that respect, for us, it’s easy to travel. We have sort of a cosmopolitan. Like, the families at our school travel often and so it’s sort of a belief of our school. I know a lot of other teachers in the States don’t always have that backing from their administration but, our school, we do have that backing and we have sort of a system in place for proposing trips and taking trips. We have a ratio of 6 students to one adult so we had to take 4 chaperones.
LINDSAY: Let’s back up just a little bit. Let’s talk about that notion of the importance of trips like this and, for someone who might not have administrative backing, why do you feel it’s important for your students to travel?
LISA: I think, more than ever, especially with the world as it is right now, and, in some ways, the world hasn’t really changed, it’s just how much attention we’re putting on events like bombings and things that has changed over the years. Like, there’s always been sort of violence and uncertainty in the world. We’re just sort of getting it as more immediate information and constant information.
I don’t actually think the world has changed that much and I think there is a huge value in seeing another culture.
LINDSAY: I totally agree. I really agree with you that I’m not sure that this world is more violent than pasts. We just know about it.
LISA: Yes, we get to see it immediately unfolding. That’s a difference.
But I think that we’re asking students more and more to be connected, to learn how to be responsible users of technology and gather information from all over the world and all these sources, and then we’re like afraid to leave our own town. It’s sort of we’re setting them up to be these global citizens and then, I think, you know, parents and administrators sometimes have this fear of what might happen or something.
And so, I think that you can’t really understand life until you put yourself in a different culture, in a different set of expectations, even a different language. I mean, our trip didn’t involve a different language per se, but there are definitely differences in British language and how they use words that were challenging to our students. You know, learning even something simple like a “crisp” versus a “chip” – you know, that’s important to know when you’re ordering in a restaurant.
I think it’s important to sort of put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
LINDSAY: I really like that and I like too that, you know, if you really want to get into what your administration wants, they want – in theory, this is what they say – that whole notion of critical thinkers and that global thinking I think is very clear on a lot of the curriculum – that that’s what today’s students are supposed to be. I think, you know, travel is one of my favorite things for that pure reason of even the ordinary. I think the ordinary part of travel is actually more interesting to me sometimes than the spectacle of travel – knowing the difference between a crisp and a chip. I love that!
Okay. Let’s start on what’s your timeline when you’re planning a trip? When do you announce that? What’s your first step in terms of announcing when a trip is going to happen? What’s your timeline?
LISA: I think you need about a year – maybe a little bit less than a year. You need a good nine months to really set everything up.
We would usually announce our trips in May or June for the following year. This particular trip happened in March. We’ve done some trips over to the Fringe Festival that were more of like an August departure time.
LINDSAY: That’s the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
LISA: Yeah, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival through the World Strides Program so that was a little different. But, for this trip, we left ourselves about nine months to do all of the planning. So, we would announce the trip in May or June, sort of get solid deposits in September, and we would start with our travel agent. Booking hotel, the two passes that we got, all of the coach transportation, and our flights we started booking in late September once we had all the deposits in.
LINDSAY: I think that’s pretty important to note – that your timeline starts really early.
LISA: Yes, you need a lot of time.
LINDSAY: And that you’re not doing it alone. You’re working with somebody else, too.
What we have done with these trips to London is that we do use a travel agent – a local travel agent – to book sort of the bigger things so we can get better pricing and group rates and things like that. And then, we do all of the booking for the museum entrances and shows that we’re seeing and backstage tours and workshops. That, we’re doing on our own because we want total control of what our kids are seeing and we want to pick where we’re going and the order we’re going in and the types of shows we’re seeing and which backstage tours we want to go to. We do all of that ourselves which means a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails back and forth to people in England which is on a different time zone.
So, that alone, you know, I started working on that, I guess I would say October. It was hard to start booking anything before October because a lot of the organizations, like, the Globe doesn’t even book their workshops. They only book them I think six or eight weeks in advance.
LINDSAY: Oh, wow.
LISA: So, some of it, you’re doing far ahead and then some of it will come closer to when you’re departing on the trip.
LINDSAY: That’s really interesting and I think that’s a good thing to get out there because we know there are lots of companies that sort of are all-in. If any of you are thespian groups out there and you go to your thespian festivals or international thespian festival, that’s a big thing – there are tour companies and I know a couple of them quite well and they are the ones who do everything. That’s interesting to note, to put out there, that that’s not necessarily the way you have to go.
LISA: Yeah, you don’t have to go that way but you can. It’s a great option for somebody maybe doing it for the first time. There’s definite benefits to when we’ve traveled under World Strides versus this trip that we were putting together ourselves, but I think there’s a lot of benefits to you sort of calling the shots of what your students are seeing because you can tailor-make the trip to the interest of the kids that you have.
Our trip was art and theatre related so we had some photographers with us and painters and architects alongside technical theatre kids and actors and performers and that made it really rich and interesting that we could go and see all these things and have all these different perspectives.
LINDSAY: When you were planning your trip, you just knew who the students were. Did you talk to them and see what kind of things they want to do? Did you use your past experience on trips? When you are thinking of your itinerary, what’s your thought process on picking and choosing? Are you always like, “We always must have a backstage tour”? What’s your thought process more on getting that itinerary down?
We do know our students well and a lot of them we’ve taught even since middle school. I think most Drama teachers know their students really well. So, I think it’s like a must-see when you’re in London to go to a few different places.
I think the National Theatre is a treasure that we don’t necessarily have in America and so you want to go to the National Theatre and you want to go on their tour and you want to see one – if not more – things there because they do do so many shows in rep. You can usually see a few things there in the span of a week.
I just think the space is important – that they have a sort of dedicated public space. So, we made sure we ate meals there, that we sort of used that as a meeting point on one of the days. I think the National Theatre, for us, was like a must-see and I just knew that a lot of the kids in the group would appreciate that space.
I think the Globe does a great job with their education.
You know, there are some things that are just my personal opinion. Like, I think these are must-see places. And then, the art teacher had some of her own – like, she really wanted us to go to the Victorian Albert Museum.
I think, if you know your kids, you can sort of piece out. Like, if I had had more musical theatre kids with me, I might have seen different shows or done different things. But, based on my population, I sort of made some calls and decisions – you know, maybe more straight plays than musicals or, you know, we saw a Shakespeare but there may be some groups that I wouldn’t take to a Shakespeare.
I think, if you know your kids, you’re going to sort of get a sense of what you want to see.
And then, I did a lot of reading – a lot of reading online of what was popular, what was getting good reviews, you know, because I’m not in England all the time so I don’t know. You know, I have a good sense of what’s on in New York and what’s getting good reviews and what would be a must-see in New York. But I had to sort of research myself for England.
LINDSAY: I think that’s a really interesting thing. You want to make the trip the best that it can be for the students, right?
LINDSAY: At the end of the day, it’s the thing that they’re going to remember.
When you are traveling with students, what are some of your maybe not rules but what are the guidelines that you have with traveling with that a number of students? Like, passports have to be had, everyone’s got to have currency. What are some of your guidelines for just the traveling with that many students?
LISA: Sure, we have some guidelines that are in place through school, but we have a pretty strict behavior contract that they have to fill out. And then, we make sure that we have meetings with the parents before we leave on the trip. We usually actually get to meet with the parents often because we do do fundraising and I think the fundraising is an important part of it – to build sort of the group spirit and get the parents onboard and everyone feels like they’re sort of invested in the trip.
So, we do have some parent meetings where we spell out our expectations. We make sure that they’re getting the kids the right type of credit cards or debit cards and that they have all their passports taken care of. We actually had some international students with us who then needed visas so we had to go through that process with them.
We keep a copy of everyone’s passport with us and we also take the kids’ passports from them when we arrive in the country and we hold them in the safe at the hotel because, nowadays, you don’t need your passport really to trade money. So, we take the passports. It used to be harder to do that when they would need them, you know, kind of constantly throughout the trip. But we did all of our money exchange at the airport right when we got off the plane and made sure everyone had their money. And then, we did another money exchange later in the week for people who had spent their spending money and needed to exchange more money.
But, for the most part, kids these days are drawing money out of bank machines so you just have to make sure with the guidelines of the country that you’re traveling to, like, which bank cards work. Some bank cards don’t work so we were able to sort of caution people against certain things and make sure they’re all squared away with funding.
The passport – you just want to keep under lock and key.
We sort of broke our group into four groups with a chaperone in-charge. We always do that when we travel. Whether it’s by grade or by group – in this case, it was by the speed of walking. Fast walkers went with one chaperone and then sort of the medium walkers went with two others and I was super slow because I was coming out of having an illness so the slower walkers were with me. That way, whenever we got to like a tube station or got off the tube or on the tube, I was only tracking six people. I would say, you know, “My group’s here,” and then we would make sure all four groups were accounted for and then we would move forward.
The kids got really good at stepping off the tube and getting against the wall. You want to pick landmarks and make sure they understand the meeting time and the meeting place. A lot of repetitive information so that kids are really aware of their surroundings and can meet up if they get lost.
Also, they were never allowed to be alone and they actually had to always be in a group of three. That way, if there was an issue – some kind of medical issue or something – you know, you always had someone to stay with maybe the person who was hurt and then another person to go get help. So, we always make them be in groups of three and they had very little time when they weren’t with an adult.
So, we keep them really with us under lock and key and that is something that I think has changed in the past twenty years. When I used to run trips before I had my own children, it was very different. You could set children free in London with a map and they knew how to read the map and they knew sort of how to be aware. But, I think, with sort of helicoptering, with post-9/11, I think it’s a really different vibe with parents and students. Like, the students don’t feel comfortable without being near an adult. That was a big shift for me – like, thinking about how I used to run these trips and how I’m running this trip in 2016 is a little different.
LINDSAY: Well, that’s good to know, too. It’s all about the students. You have to adapt to what you know you students want. It may be one thing to feel, well, you know, it’s important to let them off on their own, but what if that’s not the thing that’s going to make their experience great?
LISA: Yeah, and, like, they were not comfortable with that. Also, the parents weren’t comfortable. It was obvious through our meetings with the parents that they didn’t want them having free time and being off on their own and part of my philosophy with traveling with teenagers is you don’t give them much free time. You may give them choices. “Okay, this group is going to Camden Market to shop and this group is going to a museum and this group is going here.” But you don’t want to give them free time because, when you give them free time is when bad things happen – people lose their backpacks or people drink or do something that you don’t want to have happen and chaos ensues.
So, we kept them on a really tight schedule but a flexible schedule – a schedule we could all look at and say, “You know what, we’re not going to a museum tomorrow morning. We’re going to let them sleep in and we’ll go to breakfast later and we’ll get started later. They need catch-up time.”
One morning, we had something planned and we decided to do a choice where each chaperone was going to a different place.
You want to have a full schedule but a flexible schedule.
LINDSAY: I think that’s really important. I really like that. I like that notion of flexibility in your schedule, the whole notion of just don’t give them free time, making sure they’re always in a group, and making sure that groups are basically little self-contained groups instead of all 24 of you sort of milling around at once.
LINDSAY: There’s lots of really, really great tips there.
Let’s go to two more things. You’ve done this for so many years, you know your students and a lot of it, for the most part, I’m sure works like clockwork. But how do you deal with when you’re on the trip and it’s not the same thing as sending a kid home on a bus but when there is an issue or there is something that doesn’t go like clockwork? What’s been an experience where you’ve been in a position that it hasn’t worked out and you’ve had to deal with that?
LISA: This trip was really, really a smooth trip which was awesome.
LINDSAY: We’re going to start again. Wherever you are is nowhere near the mic.
LISA: Is that better?
LINDSAY: No, something really happened.
LISA: Nothing different. I think I’m really close. Is this really quiet again?
LINDSAY: No, there we go, that’s perfect.
LISA: Okay, I won’t move.
So, this trip was really smooth. We’ve had, in the past, a medical issue. We had a sprained ankle on one of our trips so I had to go to the hospital.
I guess the important thing to remember is that you want to be contacting the child’s parents and also your school administrators. You want to keep your administrators informed and I sort of used their protocol as my protocol, if that makes sense.
LINDSAY: What’s a good example of their protocol that you used?
LISA: Our school protocol is always that we have an administrator on duty because we have some boarding students here on campus along with day students. You would always want to call the administrator on duty first – no matter what the emergency is – like, even if someone’s calling 911 at the same time.
What we did in that circumstance when we had to take Alison to the hospital is we had to make sure our administrator on campus knew that we were doing that and that her parent was informed that we were doing that also. And then, we had all the paperwork behind us to sort of, you know, all the medical paperwork we needed to have consent for treatment and things like that.
Other sort of weird circumstances, you know, we’ve had kids – on this trip, actually – we had a girl who her parents, for some reason, thought she didn’t want to be on the trip anymore. I’m not sure exactly what she communicated home but it used to be that you took kids abroad and they didn’t talk to their parents for ten days. You know, like, they didn’t call home and they didn’t have cellphones and they really had that experience of being away from their parents. Do you understand what I mean?
LISA: But, nowadays, most of them have working phones, most of them were texting their parents constantly. And so, we had an incident where she had maybe said, like, “I’m exhausted, I’m not having fun,” or I don’t know. We couldn’t get to the bottom of it but I had to have a conversation with both of her parents who were divorced so I made sure I talked to mom and I talked to dad and I met with the girl and I sat with her while she talked to her mom and then she had to talk to her dad. It was established that she was tired, she had said something maybe she didn’t mean. She did want to stay. You know, we were doing a show at a school. She wanted to be in the show. And so, then once her parents talked to her, that was sort of established.
We haven’t really had behavioral issues on our trips – I think because we just have a level of trust with our students. Like, they know we expect a lot and we treat them with respect and they sort of respect our program. So, we haven’t really had kids try to go off and get drunk or because they’re 18 think, like, they can have a beer in a pub. We haven’t really had that issue.
There have been some other trips at our school that have had that issue. You know, our policy as a school is that the student is sent home at the expense of the parent. So, we have had that and had to deal with that.
And then, some trips, maybe don’t send the kid home but, once the students are home, they go through the administrative review and disciplinary system – you know, as if that incident had just occurred.
LINDSAY: I’m sure that’s one of the things in your behavioral code.
LISA: Yes. Like, you have to lay that out ahead of time and you have to make sure the parents understand and sign that it’s going to be at their expense. I think that’s just an important thing with travel nowadays. You don’t want to have your school or your program be saddled with that expense. You want that expense to be from the families if something were to happen that was really a negative thing.
LINDSAY: When you were talking about fundraising – that fundraising is sort of an ensemble building opportunity – like, do you start fundraising right in September? Do you do it for the whole year? What kind of events do you do and what do they take on?
LISA: We had to do a lot of fundraising for our Edinburgh Fringe Festival trips – like, a ton of fundraising. You know, like, $65,000 amount of fundraising. This trip, we were fundraising to pay for a few chaperones and then any extra spending money the kids could raise4.
We’ve done a bunch of different fundraising events over the years and we’re lucky we don’t have to fundraise for our program. My sister is another local Drama teacher in New Jersey but she has to fundraise to support her actual shows. I think that’s what prevents her from taking on travel – that, “Oh, my gosh, I have to fundraise for my choreographer, how could I possibly then fundraise for a trip?” It’s a lot of pressure.
What we’ve found is, if you, we sort of take on an idea of like every month we’re going to have something going on for our trip. That could be a carwash. We did a bake sale and a crafts sale at the holidays that was really successful because we had art tied in with our trip. We sort of abused the skills and talents of the art club where we made holiday cards and ornaments and pillows out of our old show t-shirts. We made sort of secret elf gifts because there’s a lot of those exchanges – you know, with sports teams and on the boarding hall and advisory groups. We sort of took advantage of that time of year when people are having to pick up small gifts for people and we just did like a lunchtime sale every day for I think seven days of school.
Another thing we do is we sell a certain number of tickets for our shows – like a guaranteed front row seat or a guaranteed seat on one of the more popular nights at a higher price. We did $20.00 a ticket versus your regular $10.00 admission price. But then, we’re keeping all of that money because we don’t usually get our ticket money. That’s something that sort of goes into the school and it’s part of our budget, I guess.
So, we do some tie-ins with our shows like our concessions. We’ve had parents with special skills. This year, we had a masseuse – a parent who was a masseuse – and she did chair massages during exam week.
LINDSAY: How neat!
LISA: Yeah, she donated that back to us, but the kids had to organize it. The kids had to make the sign-up sheet and do all the publicity and set the table and check people in and make sure people showed up on time.
The kids take on a lot of responsibility. Basically, our philosophy is we can sort of help you as the student group – like, set it up and get it going. But, if it’s really coming down to people not signing up to work shifts or not baking things, like, we’re just not going to sell. I’m not going to stay up until 2:00 in the morning making brownies. Like, if the students aren’t doing it, we’re not doing it. The fundraising event is cancelled or put on hold.
One of the best events we ever did – actually, we have two really great, big events that we’ve done with great success – one was a yard sale which is a marginal pain in the butt but it’s a great money-maker if you’re in a place like we are in Central New Jersey where people are just obsessed with yard sales. I don’t know if that would work with every community but, where we are, the interest of people in finding treasures and fixing them up, that’s something that’s sort of part of the culture here in Central New Jersey. The yard sale has been awesome.
And then, we also did a spinning event – the spin classes at the gym. Now, you can do such great fundraising online. We had every student had a page of a sponsorship for the spinning. And then, we had two faculty members who did instead of Spin for Scotland, they did Sit for Scotland where they sat on a couch in the spinning room – like, burgers and fries and food being delivered and they literally sat there grading papers. They earned us the most money. They had so many people support them because people thought it was hilarious. It wasn’t so hilarious to us on the bikes but they earned a lot of money for us. We actually earned $21,000 for three hours of spinning.
LINDSAY: Holy smokes!
LISA: Because people, every kid and every family had a fundraising page. Like, I had people that I went to high school – through Facebook or whatever – see that I was doing this and give me $15.00. It was crazy because, nowadays, with Kickstarter and all those things, it’s so easy to reach a huge amount of people. If everybody in your sort of friend community or your social media friend community is giving you $5.00, $10.00, $15.00, that’s a lot of money if you have 24 people involved in your travel group.
My sister does something and I know some other colleagues of mine in Drama – you know, other Drama teachers – hook up with collegiate stadium and you can sell food and get paid a certain amount for working games and that’s a lucrative fundraising thing that schools can do easily also.
LINDSAY: I think that the thing that’s really sounding is that multiple events with small, you know, “Hey, this is a dollar! Hey, this is five dollars! Hey, I use social,” that over the long haul is going to really suit you well.
LISA: Yes, and I think what we’ve found is, if we do something once a month, the school is sort of aware, like, the other kids at school are aware. Like, “Oh, the London trip, last month, they were selling holiday cards. Now, they’re doing Valentine’s” or “Now, they’re doing massages’ or “Now, it’s time for the musical so they’re selling tickets.” It’s a good memory jog for the community and it doesn’t get to a point where people are sick of hearing from us.
Some other groups that I’ve known over the years at school, they’re trying to do something every Friday. It’s just too much and then people get turned off.
I think, if you are clear with why you’re fundraising, like, we’re not fundraising for the kids’ trips necessarily. We’re fundraising for our production expenses. We’re fundraising for chaperones so that families aren’t paying for chaperones out of pocket. We’re fundraising so that we can earn the money to get the coach bus to go visit our sister school. We try to be pretty specific about why we’re asking for money from the community.
LINDSAY: I think that’s important. People want to know.
LISA: Yeah, they want to know where their money is going.
Awesome! Oh, I think we could talk on this all day.
You’re way past your allotted time and it’s really wonderful.
As we wrap up here, what are three pieces of advice that you would give to teachers when it comes to traveling with students?
LISA: I think you want to have a good team of chaperones. You want to have chaperones who have good instincts, who have different skills. You might want a chaperone that’s really good at getting kids to follow the rules. You might want a chaperone that’s really organized with spreadsheets and checklists. And you may want a chaperone who’s more laidback.
You know, you want people that are going to compliment your skills and strengths and weaknesses as a chaperone so that the kids sort of have that nice balance of expectations but understanding and nurturing because they are away from home and you get tired and you need sort of a blend of you want to check in on time but you also want to be understanding if somebody is upset or needs a little bit of extra. You want to have sort of different modes of organization on your team.
Having a good blend of chaperones is really important.
I think meeting with parents and having your finger on the pulse of parental expectations in addition to your students is important.
And then, I guess, finally, one thing we do pretty successfully with our trips at our school is that there should be a reflection or some kind of follow-up or sharing with the community after the trip.
We’re actually going to try to do a display of maybe artwork inspired. We did do our show before we left because we were doing a show with the school over there and we did that show before we left but we’re actually doing the show again tomorrow for the middle schoolers. And so, hopefully, we can get some feedback and be able to share a little bit with them about our traveling. But, I think, if you can share with the community about your experience and why it was enriching, it sort of then opens doors for more groups to try to travel and have that experience for themselves.
LINDSAY: That is fantastic. That is awesome advice.
Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your expertise! It’s been really great talking to you!
LINDSAY: Thank you, Lisa!
Before we go, let’s do some THEATREFOLK NEWS.
It’s a play feature! It’s a play feature! It’s time to feature a play!
Today, it is a brand new play in the Theatrefolk catalogue called Finishing Sentences by Scott Giessler.
The main character, Kendra, she has been arrested. She has vandalized a classmate’s car. There’s criminal harassment. There’s a restraining order. And, to make amends for this, she has to do time through community service and that community service is working at a camp and she is completely resistant, sarcastic, she’s flawed, and that’s one of the things I want to emphasize about the greatness of this play – we have a flawed main character – so much more interesting to watch than someone who has all the answers.
So, in Finishing Sentences, we’ve got someone who has to finish, literally, a sentence. But, also, they have a lot of trouble finishing verbal sentences – meaning getting out what actually is going on in her mind and what has been happening to her.
We’ve got a great main character and you’ve also got great theatricality. It’s sort of a surreal summer camp as we get to see what’s going on inside of Kendra’s head. That’s the amazing thing about theatre – we can see what people are actually thinking and we get insight into her behavior at the same time that campers are making Smores.
See, I love it when realism, when a little bit gritty story gets combined with quirkiness. That’s a real interesting balance to play and this play – Finishing Sentences – does it so well.
You can read sample pages from Finishing Sentences at Theatrefolk.com or you can find the link in the show notes – Theatrefolk.com/episode162. (Don’t forget the slash in there.)
Finally, where, oh, where can you find this podcast? We post new episodes every second Tuesday at theatrefolk.com and on our Facebook page and Twitter. You can find us on youtube.com/theatrefolk and on the Stitcher app. You can subscribe to TFP on iTunes. All you have to do is search for the word: “Theatrefolk.”
And that’s where we’re going to end. Take care, my friends. Take care.