Monday, July 28, 2008

Accepting applause

"We spend all our lives working our asses off for some sort of recognition for what we accomplish, and instead of accepting it when it comes, we end up just rushing off the stage too quickly," said our wise, charismatic, and inspiring instructor today, just before we performed a practice of our first five lines of our monologues on the Folger Library Stage.

I went sixth, just late enough to get plenty nervous, and just early enough not to get comfortable. I felt really good beforehand. Then, I went onto the stage, and performing front and center and alone was a lot different than performing on the side of the stage under the din of all the other performers rehearsing. Everyone was quiet, and all eyes were one me. I knew who I was - King Lear, heartbroken that his favorite daughter hasn't played his game of flattery, unwilling to listen to reason as he disowns her - but couldn't quite get the focus right before I began. Consequently, I wasn't living in the moment and forgot my lines. I started and stopped twice, but ended up - finally - performing five lines that felt just right. I then grabbed my stuff and rushed off the stage.

Professor Jenkins said calmly, "______, drop your things on that chair right there, walk back to the center of the stage, and bow for us," and I remembered her opening lines and chuckled a little. Yup, she's right.

We do the whole monologue on Wednesday. On Friday, I'll be playing Hortensio in a scene from The Taming of the Shrew.

The Teaching Folger Institute exists on the notion that performance of Shakespeare is interpreation of Shakespeare - it's an inhabitation of the language and a reflection of understanding. I've always used a little bit of performance in my classroom study of Shakespeare. But, next year, I'm going to go a little bit nuts with it.

We have four days left of the institute. Like several participants, I'm wore down and ill; the 19-hour field trip (left house at 5:30am, returned at 12:30am) on Saturday was wonderful in many ways but didn't leave much down time this weekend, and I've been fighting off the fever and some head-cold like symptoms. We have a lot of work to do over the next few days. Still, this feels like good work, and I'm rather excited about my curriculum project, as I play around with a program called Audacity while I make a few podcasts that I plan on using next year in the classroom. Me, creating podcasts... actually rather hard to believe.

In other news, I made a rather ridiculous purchase for my classroom yesterday, the result of a $100-off coupon I received from Dell. I'm still in a state of shock about it, but I think it will really be a boon for my teaching and my students.

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