Saturday, January 14, 2006

Prayer of the Comfort Counselor

Well, "Island" is cast. And it was a tough one! We held three days of call backs this week to pick the leads, after a few days of workshops and a long Friday of auditions. We told the kids we would post the list on Thursday. They took that to mean 7:30 am, when the students are allowed in the building. Except Kelley, Janelle, and I were still casting at that time. Actually, it was just about at 7:30 that we made our decisions. The problem is that we still needed to type the list - which involves sorting and checking all of the names of everyone who audtioned (148, by the way). So, as a crowd gathered outside my closed classroom door and began to pound on it ("We know you're in there!"), Kelley, Janelle, and I decided to meet during 6th period to finish the list and post it. I wrote a note on a piece of paper and opened my door just enough to slap the note on the front of it and slam it shut again. As I walked back over to Kelley and Janelle, we heard a collective "Argh!" from outside. It was actually pretty amusing. For us, anyway.

So we finished the list and posted it just before the last period started. Screams, tears, hugs, et cetera flooded my room. I think my favorite reaction was Cody. He ran into my room. From the hallway I heard him scream "I love you Miss W.!" and next thing I knew, he had thrown his arms around me in a bear hug. That's the kind of casting I like. What I hate are the students like the one I found an hour after school got out, crying in the hallway. I tried to talk to him, explain things a little, but he just seemed embarased that he couldn't stop the tears from streaming down his cheeks.

The thing is, I've been there. I know what it's like to not be cast, or to not get the part you want. So when I cast a show, I empathize with these kids - I know what they're feeling. I try to remember that I lived through it, and if they ever want to do any kind of theater, they need to experience rejection. Still, I want to make them all feel like Cody. My high school theater director used to post lists on a Friday, and he would always have a substitute that day - he would have three days before having to see any of the actors who auditioned. College was just as distant, and other theater companies "posted" with phone calls to the actors. I don't know what it's like for my kids - to have their directors right there when they see the list. I don't know if talking to the upset students helps or just makes them feel worse. I hope it's a good thing to have the three of us around.

In any case, the long part (for now) is done. Janelle, Kelley, and I went to lunch on Friday (end of the quarter - so it was a teacher work day) and worked out a rehearsal calendar. A smart move we made was delaying the first rehearsal to Tuesday. We have time to plan, and the kids have time to calm down. Another good idea we've developed is creating section leaders. We're appointing students for each area (1 for each set of leads, 1 for the dances, and 1 for each section of the chorus) - they will be the ones who take roll, track behavior problems, and communicate with the cast groups. Hopefully, this will help us keep a better eye on our 148 students.

I am excited, though. I've been looking forward to this show for a while, and it's nice to get it officially underway.

A bientot!

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