In 2010, my advanced students were working on student directed one-acts. There were four productions, directed by three seniors and one junior, and shows were cast from open auditions so some students were not in theatre classes. Unfortunately, I had to be absent to travel from WV to Maine to deal with my father’s ill-health, which ended up being his final days. I left the students in charge, with a teacher colleague “baby-sitting.”
During my absence, I received a few text messages about problems. They were not small problems either, they had to deal with re-casting two roles. The students handled the re-casting (at the last minute, mind you) and soldiered on. Their texts came to me after they took care of things on their own. They were proud of their work and how they handled everything. I made it clear how relieved I was and how proud of them I was.
I returned the day of the performances to find they had everything very well in hand. I was honored to present them that night to the public as truly student productions.
The students not only managed to put up their shows on their own, but they inspired each other in the process. The younger sister of one of the senior directors had a minor speech impediment that kept her quiet. Though she had never done any theatre, she was cast in a two-character play.
The next year, she was in audition-based acting class and went on to be one my strongest and most committed students. She is currently studying theatre in college and I had the opportunity to see her play the lead in the college production of Madwoman of Chaillot last spring. She told me that theatre helped her turn her life around.
—Martha Louden; retired teacher of 26 years, 12 of those as a theatre teacher