Arriving in the theater class, I see some students are working on the blackbox stage, but the teacher is harder to find (which is a good thing– I love it when I see students fully on task, but don’t see the teacher).   I do find her, and she tells me that this is a “directing module,” with students learning to direct.  They are divided into three groups, and each, in different locations, is working on a scene.   The teacher tells me they began the unit by doing a series of wordless scenes, and learning directing skills in these workshops, but now they are more independent– she says in general she tries to have 11th and 12th graders be pretty independent in their theatrical learning, which I commend her for.    It is really fun, excellent, to watch a student as director, sitting taking notes as other students perform a scene, and then listen to her feedback.  ”We had a little trouble this this part, from getting you to the crying part after seeing a spider.”  The actor on stage says she is unsure how to be sexy in this scene, remembering something from the past, and the student director coaches her on this.  I am sure there are (?) plenty of other high schools where students learn the skill of theatrical directing, but I haven’t seen it in action anywhere else- it is great.   Our director brainstorms– “maybe it’d be better if he were carrying something as he came in, maybe keys or glasses or something.” Then, a stage direction:  ”be a little rough with her.”   Another direction:  ”Can you make it seem almost like you, I don’t know how to say this, almost like you are solving a mystery?”  Excellent, trial and error, learning by doing here, the kids really empowered and clearly doing something important to them.  ”Can you hug him after you say ‘yeah’?”    Try this, but “we’ll see how it works.”   Very cool.  ”Can we have a visual pause after ‘I miss you’?”  ”Um,  I am not sure I like the hug there, can you kiss instead?”    ”Your reaction there– after ‘Jesus,’ try to be a little hopeful.”  ”Don’t just chew the gum, remember you just got refused, so show your reaction, while you are chewing look like you are thinking about all this.”

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