Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Great Globe Itself: Middle School

Three Globes (Hudson Middle School)
We pushed the tour schedule back a few weeks this year, from a mid-February start to one at the beginning of March. Afforded an additional week of performances, we searched for additional high schools and soon discovered March is a terrible, terrible time to add special events to a high school calendar. It's all testing, all the time, or preparation for same.

So we turned to middle schools. Most of our tours are suitable for all audiences. Double Heart was a romance, and spoke frankly about some very personal issues (see Time Out review for details) so it stands out as an example that may have been inappropriate for adolescents. However, some material may not interest a vast audience of 11-to-13 year olds. Our Agatha Christie tour was very popular, but would it have held their attention for an hour?

We will never get to find out. But the decision was made months ago to bring two middle schools, in Cleveland Heights and in Hudson, onto the tour schedule. It just so happened they followed one day after another this week.
Monticello Middle School
Monday afternoon's performance at my own daughter's school, Monticello Middle School was very lively. The entire school was invited - over five hundred kids - and when the characters of Clement (2005) and Sam (1936) made their entrance through the house, it was as though every kid popped out of their seat. In their post-show comments, numerous students remarked on how funny they found the play, and many asked us to return some time in the future.
Hudson Middle School
The entire eighth grade at Hudson Middle School joined us on Tuesday, and our contact teacher there, Mrs. Lawler, had used our Teacher Preparation Guide to bring her kids up to speed on the history and issues related to The Great Globe Itself. After the performance, she gave me a tour of her classroom and all the different projects they had created, related to the production.
Romeo & Juliet Globe (Hudson Middle School)
Students have been very generous with their praise in their written evaluations:
"I liked the mixture of humor and seriousness."
"The actors were very good!"

"Overall I enjoyed this play and I would totally come to another play."

"This play was fun to see instead of being in class."
 Our performance at Monticello concluded just as the school day concluded, so there was no opportunity for a a Q&A, except for  few students who didn't need to catch a us and stayed behind to chat with us.
Hudson Middle School
At Hudson we had the opportunity for a nice long talkback. I asked a few warm-up questions related to the production before letting the students as whatever they want from me and from the acting company. One questions I asked on Tuesday was, "If you had to describe this play to someone who has not seen it, what would you tell them?"

There was an awkward silence, with a few giggles, before a student in the balcony raised his hand. He spoke in a thoughtful, cultured, if put-on voice ...
"The play ... (he took a considered pause, more giggling from the audience) ... was about the magnificent Globe Theatre ... (another measured pause, more outright laughter from the audience) ... a place where men ... dance together ..."
And then we all just lost it.

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