This last weekend I had the unique and fun experience of directing a bunch of high school students in The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon. This is the first time that I’ve directed a show like this, and the first time I spent all my time in the director’s chair, and not on stage.
Everyone who has ever met me knows that I can be on the bossy side (sorry, you’re just not doing it right). However I really thrive in the role of sarcastic second (I’m just a bossy one). Taking on the director role was something I’ve always wanted to do, and was very happy to do it. From a performer standpoint, it’s very weird. But not a bad weird. I loved pretty much everything about directing. Although I pretty much love everything about theater anyways. What surprised me the most about this experience was that I rarely second guessed my decisions. Which is something I do all the time in my regular life. Like, every day.
I’ve worked hours and hours with these kids. Warm-ups, blocking, all the scenes, changing scenes, running all the lines over and over. I’ve seen an amazing amount of growth in their performances. I love watching that. I’ve watched them struggle, from being terrified on stage, and only working in corners, to running all over the stage. I’ve seen them get frustrated with me, and then hug me (maybe they were trying to strangle me, but I’m optimistic).
It’s the performance that is the most interesting. I warm them up, I cue the stage manager, and boom, the show goes, and I just watch. I cringed when they stumbled over lines that they breezed through in rehearsal, but laugh at their jokes even though I’ve heard them 800 times.
I work at a low-income, high-trauma school. I’m there 40+ hours a week with this show. I work as a secretary at this school, and I can safely say that every day is different. People who work a regular 9-5 in whatever industry have no idea. I see fights, kids on drugs, kids smelling like drugs, hungry kids, sad kids, broken kids. But I also see happy kids. I see joyful kids. Even so, some days the bad outweighs the good.
We’re on the edge of Christmas break, and everyone here is exhausted, physically and emotionally. Because a school of 1700 kids who have trauma, wears on you in a way that isn’t really describable. Some days the kids are alright. Other days you let a student sit in your office for an hour because she misses her mom and that’s all you can do.
Even with all the bad that happens, they teach me to be more human. They remind me that at our core, we just want to be safe. They show me that no matter what dumpster fire is going on outside, there is hope for the future. Sometimes that future is late to class, and needs a granola bar because they missed breakfast.
That’s ok though, I’ve got granola bars in my top drawer. Take what you need, no, I’m not writing you a pass.
The Show must go on,