One of the challenging aspects of reading through some scenes in Fences in class is finding an appropriate Troy Maxson. I usually play him the first day, so the kids see the level of expression and intensity I'm expecting. But then I try to get a kid to do it, but sometimes it's tough. Troy needs a good reader, because August Wilson's language only comes alive into poetry.
My second period has about five boys in it. I don't necessarily have a problem having a girl read the part, but they have to want to, and they have to have the presence. Instead, they just all begged me to read it again. I relented. But, halfway through the reading, I handed the script to an African kid sitting up front. I knew he got the highest score on the quiz last week, so I figured he was a good reader. I also knew he was kind of shy, but that he was in Drama class, so I thought he would do it.
He was awesome. He has one of the thickest accents of any student I've ever taught, and made me look at the part in a totally different way. It reminded me of having, say, having Djimon Hounsou reading as Troy Maxson, in my classroom.
This year, more than ever, I'm requiring that the kids read the play at home, and analyze it, answer questions, etc, and we're only doing bits and pieces in class. At the end of the reading of it, they'll be put into acting companies and be required to direct and perform scenes. But we're still doing bits and pieces together as a class, and Act I.3 was a definite must-see.
2 years ago