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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

School's Out!

(From May 14, 2012)

So the semester is at an end, and having been saddled with teaching duties, it brings me to the trough of self-reflection...where I ponder once again...about myself. Not in a “Me, Me, Me” way, but in a “How did I do?” way. First semester teaching stage direction at TC3 and while I could spend copious time lauding the efforts of my excellent students, I have to reflect on the end results. At first it seemed like a leviathan to overcome: how could I ever manage to fill 15 weeks of three-hour classes? As the time progressed, I began to realize that I had been looking at a pinhole of time with an electron microscope. The question became “Holy shit. I only have this much time left to teach all this stuff!” ONE semester of directing when I knew some colleges spend at least two? What was I thinking? Oh, hubris berzerk!!

The reason I ramble and ruminate is that I saw my students' first real directorial efforts earlier today. And while there was a...diversity (?) of success... I did see effort to incorporate the things we had covered in class. Movement. Tableaus. Reactions to lines. Scoring each speech. Viewpoints. Physical interpretation. Not one of them could have been accused of not trying.

I had great students. Started with six, ended up with the same six. Not bad. 0% attrition. All were eager to learn, and ready to do the job. Which left it up to me to tell them what the job actually was. 

They showed varying degrees of success, but all high levels of intent and work involved. And yet I feel as if, through their first kicked-out-of-the-nest efforts, that there could have been more uniform results. Was I not clear? Did I not cover this or that? Did I cover it but insufficiently? Going back over my lesson plans I see few gaps in critical material coverage. I do, however, see inadequate time to thoroughly explore topics. 

I'll definitely spend a bunch of time reworking the course... spend more time here, less here... drop this... introduce that. Pick and choose among all of the several hundred equally crucial and necessary topics. And probably do it again after the next time I teach this course. (What the hell, I'm constantly reworking my plays years after the original crayon stains have dried.) 

I know part of me is being unrealistic; that behind this scribble-babble is the idea that I can churn out --across the board--astute directors who GET IT. By this I mean get the idea...the concept... a glimpse of the whole play, inside and out, organic and inorganic, and the ability to develop a perspective about their projects. Give them tools enough to walk out and do an (at worst) semi-decent job of putting something on stage.

How responsible am I for my students’ success? Yes, yes, yes... stupid question and I already know the answer.  So why do I ask?


Sorry it's over, glad it's done for now. 

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