I gave my theatre appreciation class their final assignment. They nearly had a nervous breakdown.
Student: I’m not creative. I can’t possibly do this. I’m a softball player.
Me: How do you know? You haven’t even tried.
Student: I know me.
Me: Do you listen to music?
Me: Have you ever designed sound before?
Student: I don’t even know what that is.
Me: Right. How about you research what a sound designer does before you decide if you can do this. I purposely gave you choices in this assignment so that you could find one which you were most comfortable accomplishing.
Student: (forlornly) Ok…
Although she gave me a forlorn look, I know this young woman well enough to know she’ll try.
My goal is for these young people to see theatre as more than a bunch of actors in films. Luckily this semester,, they enjoyed most of the videos I showed them. And they enjoyed seeing a live production as well. Several students even attended productions on their own (okay, it’s a class requirement, but still…)
One of the outcomes of course is to explore “the collaborative nature of theatre”.
I thought an assignment (set, costume, props, or sound) for a particular play (in this case, “The Importance of Being Earnest”) would be an excellent way to learn about the process of creative collaboration.
The students must research the responsibilities of their chosen designer position, create powerpoint, design, find fabric swatches or paint chips, choosen pre and post show music or make two props. Lastly, they must present their project to the class.
They will evaluate their learning near the end of the semester. That’s when the project will do its magic, I’m hoping. Let’s see if the kids notice any differences in themselves after the project. I’m hoping they’ll come away from it
What they don’t know yet is I plan to throw a kink in the works next week. As the director of the imaginary show, I gave them my concept and color palette. I haven’t decided what I want to throw at them, but they need to learn to be flexible and open minded.
Besides, I hold the gradebook (mwahhaha….)
These students are mostly high school kids, graduating very soon, who are taking the class for college credit. They want absolutes and to regurgitate the information through a series of tests. They have seniorities like crazy. Right now they are hanging on by their fingernails.
I could feel the stress level rise when I assigned this project.
They don’t like changes. They grow impatient with I change due dates or chapter assignments even though I’m very understanding when they were confused and didn’t turn in their work on time. (My fault, really.)
This will be an interesting couple of weeks.
I’ll be back to share the students’ evaluations of the experience. Wish us luck.