A student does a very emotional gripping scene (Ibsen?), and the teacher gives him great, grounded, specific feedback.   “Your goal to strip things down is really working, what I didn’t see sometimes is what you needed from her, what you were hoping to get from her by telling her these things, can you try that again?”   A student: it was honest, I liked it.  another: it really did feel like you were connecting, I got goosebumps.  Another: It made the words in the monologue touch you, it is really nicely written, and you really read it with the words in mind.
Our student performs again, and then again a third time, as the teacher pushes him to improve and excel.    And on to another student’s piece.  Teacher after it: Where do you want to go with this piece?   The student says it is hard to perform in this art room, we have been relocated here from the theater because they are doing dress rehearsal for the middle school play here.     These teachers give really rich, frank, feedback– what they like and what they don’t like, in front of everyone.   For this second student recital, the teachers are now pushing the student to speak her lines to the other character, how do you want the other character to feel, how do you want your words to affect him?   “I want him to feel stupid, and I want him to feel bad.”     After this try, the teacher says that is an interesting start– it may not be the right start, but it is an interesting start, which is a great thinking out loud, trial and error, experimental mode of teaching.   It is the teacher saying I am not your teacher because I know all the answers already, but because I can work with you to ask you the right questions and suggest different possibilities.   As she tries the piece one more time, the teacher keeps pushing and pushing, on one line in particular, a biting reference to “he”, the teacher interrupts again and again, how does “he” make you feel, how does “he” make you feel, how does “he” make you feel?   Mining the emotional depth here.

After 45 minutes, during which two students have performed monologues, the students lobby for a 5 minute break, and after some wheedling, it is granted.    I love what I am seeing here, I think it is really great, and I still also think it is a little hard for those not center stage (all but two so far) to sit and watch.  They are attentive, they are engaged, they are learning and making great critical comments, but I wonder how to reconcile the goals of having them learn from watching others and critiquing others while not leaving them to sit and watch for 90 minutes.

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