Sidereal ramblings

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"The Actor"

As part of my Adolescent Lit class at MSUM, we have to dabble in some poetry writing. (Yeah, I don't get it either.) I'm not much good at poetry, but I do like to write ocassionally. Last week, we had to write a "monologue poem." Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" was the example -- a great poem that everyone should read. Anyway, I kinda liked mine, so here it is. I call it "The Actor." I've been thinking about theatre lately, as I'm starting to direct our fall school play again, so that "inspired" it.

Hey, you -- on stage left --
No, no -- the one with the hat -- yes, yes --
Do you think you could come downstage
On your line -- sweetheart, what's the line?
Ah, yes, on your line that begins
"But I never knew where it came from..."
Yes, that's it -- You need to be closer
To the audience -- Hmmm, what's that?
What's your motivation?
Oh, darling, I'm the director, and I
Need you downstage at that moment --
You're an actor, right? Come up with
Your motivation -- Ask yourself why
Why would I do this? Why now?
Always ask why. Okay, got it?
From the top, everyone!
Do you think we could lose the hat?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cinema Verite?

Dear Hollywood:
How can I be expected to teach my film class, a serious look at historical and modern movies and moviemaking, when you've just released Jackass 2? I mean, seriously.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

First Night of Twelfth Night

For our annual fall all-school play, I decided to try something different: I'm directing Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. I was always pretty sure about doing it, but there was also a nagging doubt preying on the back of my mind throughout the time when committing to it came nearer. I went for it. Had auditions last week, which went well. I had most, if not all, of the kids I expected, my "regulars," and a good sampling of new kids. I had six freshmen girls who auditioned (four of whom got parts), which I was pleased to see. Casting was surprisingly easy, with only one part I was unsure of.

We started rehearsal tonight, with our first read-through. A "read-through" is just what it sounds like: you assemble the cast, and they sit around and read through the script aloud. Usually this is a one-night, one-shot deal. This year, I decided to schedule two nights for our read-through. I figured it was Shakespeare, the kids might struggle with it, and we might need the extra time. I was wrong. We read through the entire play in two hours. The kids were remarkably good. I was very impressed. And now we're kind of a day ahead of where I thought we'd be, a great feeling. Obviously, we've got plenty of work ahead of us, but at this particular moment I'm feeling very confident.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

You're Such a Character

Ever wanted to be a character in a novel? Or at least have such a character named after you? Then check out the ebay auction here: Most of the auctions are a bit spendy; too much for my poor self. But it's for a good cause. (And thanks to Neil Gaiman's online journal which pointed me there in the first place.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Class sizes

Last week, before school even started for our students, I had a class list for each of my classes. The first week or so of classes, our students are allowed to add, drop, and change classes (though often they need teachers' permission to do so). While I've had a couple of kids drop one of my classes, I've had a lot more add -- to the point where I think I now have 12 more students than I did this time last week.

It's tough to be so popular.

For the record, my class sizes at the moment: Theatre (1st section): 24; Theatre (2nd section): 22; Cultural Literature: 32; Art of Film: 31; Writing: 17. I also have two study halls (11 and 26).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Big Changes

September is here. I was thinking the other day about the huge changes my life takes around this time of year. Anyone who is or knows a teacher understands that fall is a big change from summer, but for me, it's even more dramatic. What do I do during the summer? "Nothing" comes to mind. I mean, I've been riding my bike, reading a lot, and sleeping late, but the point is that I don't have any specific things that need to be done at a particular time. It's very freeing. As the new school year rolls around, though, here's what my fall schedule looks like: I'll be teaching full-time (which means over 40 hours a week); plus I'll be directing our school's fall all-school play (which means three or four nights a week for rehearsals); then I'm taking a 3-credit literature class at Minnesota State University Mankato (Monday nights, with homework in between); since I needed 4 credits, I'm also doing an independent study for 1 extra credit with that class (working on writing the beginning few chapters of a novel that's been bouncing around in my head for a few years); and writing an extensive research paper as an alternative to a master's thesis, for an additional two credits. Basically, it means going from doing "nothing" to being busy every waking moment of every day. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm looking forward to all of it.