One of my goals in teaching is to create a true appreciation and honestly, love, for the arts within my students. I teach drama and character study through student performance, and I teach Shakespeare through live plays and excellent movie versions. I read difficult parts of books in class via reader's theater. I teach my students Romanticism through a combination of poetry and paintings. I really, truly want my students to appreciate the arts. I especially love when they appreciate theater. There is a magic to live theater that nothing else really compares to. When I walk out of a really amazing play, like when I saw Rent with Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp a year ago in Hollywood, it is this amazing feeling. It is like part of their soul has reached out and touched mine, like they have shared something with us, the audience, and it is an amazing something. It is something that can only be shared through live theater. It is the part of one's soul that is only reached by completely embodying a character for several hours as you live that character out on stage to reach your audience with a message... a purpose... a point. I want my students to appreciate that magic, and see it as something truly special and worthwhile.
I have not yet completely entered that unit with my 10th graders yet. It is something I do in the Spring once I have already developed their work habits enough for it to be a success. As a result, the vast majority (like 75%) of my theater arts program is made up of juniors. Most of the sophomores just aren't interested yet (but they will be!).
It makes me happy to know that I have succeeded. How do I know I have succeeded? Well, the junior English teacher this year gave them an optional opportunity to spend a Friday night seeing The Color Purple at the Pantages. 30 students took him up on the offer and took the train with him down to Hollywood. I was so excited to hear that so many of my former students wanted to go. He just sent pictures, and it was really exciting to see. Of course, when I counted in the picture, I realized that more than half of the students who went are part of my theater arts program, but that is sort of even better news. It means that I am succeeding in my theater arts program, because I want them to not only appreciate being on stage, but also the magic of seeing it too.
Click here to see the photos :-)