Saturday, November 12, 2011

What I Do In Real Life

By night (and on weekends) you know me as the blogging mommy with a whole slew of kiddos. (how many are there in a slew?) 

But by day.....I still have a whole slew of kiddos.  As most of you know, I am a working mom and Brian stays home with our kids.  But I don't often blog about my work.  So I thought I'd write a post about my day job.

I am a high school theatre director.  I have been teaching for 20 years.  I have taught at 4 different high schools and I have been at my current school for 13 years. Right now I teach Theatre 1, Theatre Production (which is an advanced acting class), Advanced Technical Theatre, and Video Production.  Over my 20 years I have also taught Technical Theatre 1, English, a Gifted and Talented pull out class, Public Speaking, Film Analysis, Oral Interpretation, Communication Applications, Sociology,  and Psychology.

But mostly I direct plays.  I direct 3-6 shows a year.  Sometimes more.  I direct comedies and dramas, musicals and straight plays, one act plays and full length plays.  I've directed plays with a cast of 2 and a cast of over 50.  I've directed plays in English, Spanish, and in French.  I've never directed a Shakespeare, but I have directed a spoof of Romeo and Juliet that I thought was way more entertaining than the original.  Some of the best shows I've directed include 1984, Two Rooms, Antigone Now, Necessary Targets, Quilters, and Morning of the Eighth Day.

I especially love children's theatre because kids make the very best audiences.  Tonight, we just closed a production of Seussical the Musical.  It is a very sweet play with really lovely music that follows the story of Horton the Elephant.  If it ever comes to your town, take your kids to see it.  For years I've thought if I could work in any professional theatre I would want to work at the Seattle Children's Theatre.  They do a lot of new works by up and coming playwrights and their design work is always wonderful.  And every show they do is for kids. 

For many years I was a one man show, the only director at my schools.  Then my husband Brian came on board.  That was amazing for me.  He had been a special education teacher for several years.  He joined my school as my Technical Director and handled set construction, make-up and lighting.  I did sound design and costuming.  Together we would direct each production.  I would look at the big picture, while he did the fine tuning on scenework.  Our last big production together was the musical Grease.  I think he was definitely ready to retire after that.  After he decided to stay home with Grace we had the amazing luck to bring in my current co-director, Amy.  Amy is a former dramaturg.  She does script analysis like nobody's business!  She is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet. 

Next week I get to start on a project that I am pretty excited about--the production of a play that Brian and I wrote.  That's right, I get to direct my own play.  Each year in our state we participate in a one act play contest.  This year we were granted approval from the state to produce our original script.  We wrote it the year before Grace came home, but we never seemed to have just the right cast to produce it until this year.  My students have been amazingly supportive of the script and I am anxious to see how it all comes together.  If it goes well there is the slim possibility that I could get it published.  Wow, to be a published author would be extraordinary!!!

Being a theatre director used to be my whole world.  It was all I thought about, all I did.  I am very proud of my body of work.  Most years we have at least one or two students who go to college on theatre scholarships.  I have several students working professionally in the business.  In fact, one of my former students is stage managing a show that opened its previews on Broadway tonight.  I served on the board of directors for our state Thespian organization.  My students have won many contests and some of the plays I've directed have won some, too.  But I certainly haven't remained a theatre director all these years for the prizes.  It's been because of the kids.

A few I have remained in contact with for many years.  Some I've lost touch with.  Some were as close to me as my own kids.  One I would have adopted if I could have.  Many are married now and some have their own kids.  Some attended my alma mater.  One died in a terrible car accident.  Some have broken my heart and some have made me proud beyond words.

Being a teacher is emotionally a really hard job.  Every single day someone is mean to me.  Teenagers can be very harsh, thoughtless people.  Don't you remember high school?  But everyday one of my theatre kids will say something to make me laugh.  Every opening night one of them will say "That was the best night of my life".  Every year one of them thanks me for helping them achieve a dream. 

Twenty years is a long time to be doing the same thing.  Thankfully, each year brings new faces, new relationships, a and whole new batch of brand new plays.
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