Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Anything For Money

At the 19th Annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare, a challenge grant was issued: if we could raise $5,000 from the audience in the four days of the festival, an anonymous donor would give us $10,000. To collect the money, Karen Harvey and the other education managers dressed up in red dresses and wandered the lobby.

Well, before one of the productions Kevin was doing his usual shtick explaining the challenge grant to the audience and said that if we raised $3,000 more dollars, we would stop shaking down the audience for money. A cheeky high school boy yelled out "will they still wear the red dresses?" Kevin, with perfect timing, retorted "if we make the money, I'll wear a red dress." The cash was earned in record time, leading to the following priceless moment:

("You Sexy Thing" played on the sound system to mark Kevin's entrance.)

I also had a mini NITS reunion with Trish in the lobby before Jenna's epic production of Midsummer (Trish was there with her daughter and students). I can't believe it's all over now. Although I'm exhausted after helping to load in and out ten shows, I'm exhilarated. I've now seen an audience of teenagers give the character Richmond a standing ovation after the killing Richard III. I've seen Pyramus ask the audience for a suggestion on how to die, only to get "death by allergy to polar bear." I've seen an audience gasp at Juliet's suicide as if her death came as a cruel surprise. It really is true: it's like a rock concert, a Thanksgiving day football game and a religious experience all in one.

But the best summation came on one of our student evaluations, where the kid responded to the prompt what have you learned as a result of participating in the festival? with this:
"I learned that storytelling is a way that people connect with each other to make the world make more sense, and that theater is telling a necessary story to a group of people who are willing to listen. Theater can change the way people think about how to live their lives, and I can say now that it has absolutely changed how I think about forgiveness."

Every state in America needs a non-competitive, totally supportive festival like this one. If you're ever in the Berkshires in November, this is an event not to be missed. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


At 11:31 AM, Blogger Walker said...

It is the day before thanksgiving break, which should be a good day.

But it is one of those days where as a teacher you wonder if your job is worth it--I almost broke down in tears in front of my seniors.

I had to take a break; and this was where I turned to, and read this. It reminds me why i'm here, why I teach, and that there are many of you who struggle with the same things, and for everyday like i've had, there are days like this in massachusetts. Days where the students really, truly learn and grow, and discover.

Thank you for sharing this experience with us, even if it is through words and pictures. You gave me a little bit of the greenworld right when I needed it.


At 10:57 PM, Blogger kv said...

Mel, today was one of those days for me too.

And again and again, you folks remind me that we are in this together. That I am not alone. And that there is power in these wild and whirling words.

I am thankful for you all.


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