Tonight was opening night of our school’s spring musical—Guys and Dolls. I wish I could say that I go to the show every year, but I do try to make it when I can. Teachers also get a complimentary ticket on opening night, but that wasn’t the reason I decided to stay late tonight to watch the show (although it was a nice bonus). Several of my students are in the show, including one of the leads, so I also wanted to go to support their hard work.
I’ve never seen Guys and Dolls before, so I knew very little of the show’s plot or characters. When I asked my students if the show was “family-friendly”—in other words, could I bring my kids to see it?—most of the students said it would be fine, though others expressed some doubt (“Well, there is a stripper in it,” one student admitted, while another quipped, “There’s that once scene that’s pretty racey”). I decided to take my chances, and so tonight, at 7 p.m., my husband and our three boys occupied five seats in row V of Hobson Auditorium.
The show was impressive, to say the least. Walking into the auditorium, the set design alone was incredible to see (not mention the fact that I had heard that one of the major props was actually 3D-printed on site in the engineering lab). I don’t know why I was surprised by the quality of the show; after all, our performing arts program has a stellar reputation. But there’s something about the magic of live theater, especially when you know that the (in)famous gambler and self-proclaimed “former sinner” standing on stage is the same person who sits, quite earnestly, in your classroom every morning. A few years ago when I went to see another school musical, I watched a generally reserved female student in my fourth period class fully transformed into a 1920s flapper.
Students sometimes joke about how strange it is to see their teachers outside of school—that their teachers have an entire life outside the walls of their classroom. It’s not unlike coming to the realization that our parents aren’t just our parents. When I was in high school and visited my mom’s work one day, I remember being surprised to see her interacting with other adults as a colleague. It was the first time I’d seen her outside of her role as “mom.”
So seeing this other side of my students in the musical served as a useful reminder that my students aren’t just my students either. They’re also young people with tremendous talent and many passions, often with too few hours in the day to fit everything in. I found myself wondering when they had time to finish the essay they turned in Monday, or the assignment they turned in this morning. Here I am, writing this blog post at 11:50 p.m., and I’m exhausted. Although I often overhear my students talk about their busy rehearsal schedules, I don’t think I ever fully appreciate how much time something like this musical takes.
But then the curtain opens, the music begins, and I see the countless hours of hard work that went into making this moment happen. And tomorrow, I’ll let them know.
This post is part of the “Slice of Life” series, organized by the teachers at Two Writing Teachers, whose goal is to give teachers a place to write and reflect. This March, more than 250 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even some students), visit twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges.