For the summer I am working at Alley Theatre in Houston as the Education and Community Engagement Intern. It has been a whirlwind. In the first two weeks, I worked with 4th and 5th graders at Playmakers Camp. It is exactly what it sounds like and SO MUCH MORE. For two weeks, they are stretched and challenged to dig deeper into their imagination, find their biggest most resonant voice, move with intention and work as an ensemble. At the end of the two weeks, students performed a play they generated about scientist Marie Curie.
I've learned so much observing and participating in classes. From classroom management skills to fun games that fosters focus and ensemble connection. I am also witnessing the devising process which I find incredibly fascinating. I was nervous about how 4th and 5th graders would handle the process but it was beautifully fascilitated by the teaching artists. With my BFA in theatre, emphasizing in Original Works, I made playmaking into this sophisticated process in my mind. That piece of paper that cost thousands made me forget that the creation of a play is throwing things on the wall and seeing what sticks.
In these moments I remember how much I miss the writing process and the creation of a characters on a page. But I digress...
These kids jumped in, many with no previous exposure to theatre. What blew me away the most was their ability to say "Yes and..." with openness and sincerity. As they worked together to create the movement portion of their play. All of them had so many great ideas. Now, sometimes when you get into a room like that, people tend to talk over eachother and those who aren't assertive are left with their hand in the air. However, I got to witness 10 and 11 year olds share their ideas without fear of judgement and with the full attention of their ensemble. The ending result reflected the beautiful atmosphere witnessed during the creation of the play. It was an exciting two weeks!
For the next 5 weeks, I am working at the Alley in downtown Houston with older teenagers as they merge the worlds of Orwell's 1984 and Romeo and Juliet. I am already soaking in as much knowledge as I can from the teaching artists and the students. I'm learning how I have changed since leaving college.
What am I better at?
What didn't I get enough of?
Where can I challenge and stretch myself?
How can I bring these experiences into my own classroom?
More to come....