The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

20% insanity

I can hardly believe I just concluded my sixth full-length show. I have directed six shows.  Wow...

      Thinking about it today, I think that directing is 30% creativity, 50% hard work, and 20% insanity.

      There is a very real part of directing that involves believing the impossible. When I think of how to make scenes different from the prior scene, or with a show like Willy Wonka, how to surprise an audience who knows the story, thinking outside the box is just a necessity.  When I thought about the "I've Got a Golden Ticket" scene, I decided it would be fun to have Grandpa Joe suddenly jump up on top of the bed, over Grandma Josefina, and off the bed to the stage while singing, "Good morning! Look at the sun!" The student looked at me like I was crazy and said, "That's not gonna work."  But I believed it would. Enough to try it myself several times. Poor Grandma Josefina looked at me with great terror as I leapt over her, but I made it every time. Grandpa Joe finally believed me and gave it a shot. It took a few rehearsals to get it right, but he did, and it was a nice touch. It's these little details that make theatre magical, you know.

     Last night, we had some technical failures. The computer hooked up to our ceiling mounted projector froze during intermission. Unfortunately, it is not hooked up to a monitor with the ability to do a dual display or go off and on, so we were unable to reset the computer without the entire audience having to watch the reboot process. We did some troubleshooting, but ultimately gave up. My techies think there's a bad cable. Anyhow... so today I decided we'd use the portable lcd projector from my classroom on the a/v cart; however, I knew that just leaving the lcd cart in the middle of the aisle would look bad and detract from the magic. Plus, the light from the monitor would be distracting. So, I came up with a solution: we'd build a hut.

     I contacted some of the students and told them I had an idea but needed help constructing it. I bought purple spray paint on my way to campus. They showed up early to help. When they got there, I looked at them and said, "We're gonna build a hut for the projector."

      Wonka looked at me and said, "Are you joking?"  When he realized I was serious, he helped me dig cardboard boxes out of the dumpster.

      Soon, Mike Teavee showed up. When we explained the project, he said, "Are you serious?"

      Wonka replied, "That's what I said," but these kids have been with me long enough to know that I rarely give up once an idea pops into my head, so they grabbed the tape and went to work. Eventually, my assistant director showed up, and by then the vision was already taking shape. She trusts my insanity completely and jumped right in to hold boxes while we taped.

As Mike Teavee and I painted and Wonka got started on his make-up, my techies showed up. "What's that?" my media tech asked.

      "A hut for you," I replied.  He laughed, then realized I was serious.

      "You want me to sit in it? I'm going to get high on the smell of the spray paint."

      "It'll be dry by then, and it's VOC free spray paint. You'll be fine."

       It was actually dry by the time we were ready to open the house. My assistant director held the door while I got inside the hut to carry it in. We must have been quite a sight. But you know what?  The crazy idea really worked, and we had all of our projections. Vinny saw the show twice. Today he said, "I loved it today. The factory had Wonka gates. And today I was able to use my imagination when Charlie was flying! And Mike Teavee was funny!"  So... Vinny loved all the special effects. My boss popped in during the flying scene and agreed that the effects did make quite the difference.

20% insanity.

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