The Show Must Go On!
When students first heard they would be putting on a play, the vast majority was skeptical, reluctant, and wary. Thankfully, the American Theatre Company teaching artists who facilitated production, came in with such enthusiasm that it rubbed off on the kids. Students began taking positive risks by participating in improvisation games, and learned that when it comes to theatre and production, they are “always right.” This has become a saying amongst the freshman classes, encouraging students to share their artistic opinions and voices.
All artistic and critical decisions about production and direction for The Kill Floor project are entirely made by the students. They decided what roles they wanted to play and could either be actors, or part of the production team. Student actors developed critical thinking skills while making informed choices about their character’s behavior and speech. The production team did as well, designing set pieces, collecting props, and creating the world in which their characters lived. The theatre project has given agency to students like many never have had before. Students were required to communicate about all decisions, take creative risks, and think critically.
For example, during rehearsal last week, the actors decided they needed an apple for the character B to eat and hold during his scene. Jamiel Navarro, the stage manager, was given thirty seconds to create an apple. He ran around the auditorium asking for paper, his peers rushing to their backpacks to help him. Jamiel crumpled up some paper into a ball and gave it to B, a perfect makeshift prop. The scene was then complete.
The play is set to open Tuesday, April 5th. Lines are memorized, the paint on set pieces has dried, and students (and teachers) are a mixture of excited and nervous. All that’s left is one last full-class rehearsal before we hear, “action!” All of us at Clemente hope the freshman class breaks a leg!