Friday, June 4, 2010

Brutal Honesty

My senior thesis is a play. Yup. When the opportunity presented itself I took the plunge and wrote a play instead of yet another research paper. This from a student who has taken ZERO creative writing courses. I took English 101 and 102 and then lost myself in the awesomeness of history and political science classes.

Naturally my play is historical. It's about the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831. With Malcolm X. Take my word for it, it works. I'll put it out here eventually - my vision is for it to be part of an entire curriculum for high school students about slavery and racism in the United States. For now you just have to take my word for it that it's come together quite nicely.

And that is entirely due to all the amazing feedback I've gotten from real live high school students.

One of the benefits to being a serial volunteer is all the contacts I've made at my kids schools. The drama teacher at the high school is amazing. According to all the performing arts parents he walks on water, and judging from the exceptional quality of his students performances I'm inclined to believe them. He was kind enough to allow me to borrow one of his classes to be guinea pigs for my play. After my first draft was complete I took it in, they did a table reading, and then gave me their feedback.

I was amazed at how articulate, thoughtful, and helpful their comments and notes were. It was exactly what I needed to make my project something that might actually be useful rather than just mental masturbation for a grade.

My re-write was substantial - all based on their feedback. I changed the format, scrapped the ending and wrote a new one, and added dialogue. Today I went back to amazing drama teacher's fifth period class and they did a second reading of my play. (I brought cookies and brownies this time, don't want them to feel unloved and taken advantage of!)

Again they blew me away with their maturity and I now have a kick-ass play. Well - as kick-ass as it can be coming from a non-playwright.

But - my favorite comment of ALL TIME was from one kid who came up to me as they were packing up their stuff in preparation for the bell to ring.

"That was SO much better Ms. Whatever - I actually ENJOYED it this time!"

Brutal honesty. I love it!

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

I can't wait to see it performed.