a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Merry Men and Fawning Ladies

I have been helping our drama coach, who is appallingly underpaid and underappreciated, with practices for the spring performance: The Mostly True Story of Robin Hood. She asked me to come watch, critique and give suggestions.

After only a few minutes of the play, I had already noticed a major factor that needed improvement. On stage at any given time, there are about 10-15 characters. Most of the time it is the Townslady (narrator), Robin Hood (protagonist), and the Prince (antagonist) who are speaking. The rest of the characters are either Robin Hood’s merry men, or the Prince’s fawning ladies. These characters have very few lines, but need to remain on stage, in character and react to the lines the main characters are speaking. This is an not an easy task.

Thinking about the roles of the merry men and fawning ladies made me think about how difficult it is to be in a supporting role. These characters do not speak much and therefore they do not get any of the glory that the spotlight brings the lead characters. However, these characters can make or break each scene in which they take part.

They reminded me of the role we play as teachers. So much of the good work we do each day goes unnoticed. Our work makes up the background or foundation of a school. If things are going well, it is not necessarily attributed to the teachers. However, if things fall apart, it is surely the teachers who stand out as the cause.

The more I sat there, the more I identified with the merry men and the fawning ladies. The more I wanted to communicate to them that I get how difficult their jobs are. I want to help them feel what a big part of the production they truly are. I want them to know that they are valued and noticed and appreciated. I want them to see how important their roles are—that supporting others is work that is worth doing.

Supporting others is work that is worth doing.

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