Category Archives: Students

Written off…..

Ever get the feeling that you just aren’t even there?

I have been having that feeling a lot lately.  For the past four years I have been working to build the theater program at the school.  For the past two years I have worked like mad to get things done in the old and aging auditorium.  I have been the go to guy for theater related things.

After I announced I was leaving, strange things have been happening.  I have become like the title character in the movie “The Man Who Wasn’t There”.  It’s like I have already left.  My principal and assistant principal have stopped informing me of what is happening with the theater position, my former arts teammates have started in on my Technical Director to get things done and to plan for next year, while the students are just concerned with who is going to replace me.

I’m not crying about it or anything, it is just an interesting phenomenon.  It also makes it a little bit harder to get things done through the end of the year – since communication isn’t coming my way.  I guess that since everyone knows that I am leaving – there isn’t really a point in investing time and energy into the collegial relationship or friendship.

But, can I really blame them? After all I am the one who decided to leave this all behind.

Craziness at the 50’s Grill

Last night was the final performance of the final production of the year and my final production at the school.   As I suspected, it was a pretty emotional experience.

I tried not to let it get to me too early,  but I could sense that it was in the air from the moment that the first students started walking in.  They all looked at me. This weird kind of look.  A look that was sad and nervous and trying to hold back a very strong emotion.  It was kind of like they all knew I was going to die in 24 hours and they were trying to keep it a secret from me.  That kind of look.

The musical went off as could be expected and as I sat there watching each scene go by, I started to think about it being the last time that I would be in charge of a show at RMS.  I thought back to the first day of rehearsal and how I was so unsure of everything.  Did we choose the right show?  Did I get everyone in the right spot for the cast?  When was I going to have time to rehearse and the big one; What if I wind up going overseas next year and have to leave all these kids behind?  That thought hit me part way through the 2nd act and I remembered that when we started working on the show, no one – not even me – had any idea that I would be moving to Bangladesh.  Which is kind of the whole point of the show being so emotional to begin with.

At the end of the show, we do this raffle and after the raffle I high five everyone and the kids traipse offstage to go and greet their people.  But last night they didn’t leave the stage.  Now, it is tradition to give the director some sort of gift after the last show and I knew that they would have something special to give me (what with it being the last show and all), but I had no idea just how special it would be.

Turns out that they had been collecting notes from the kids and parents that were to go to me.  They set out some cards in the lobby and had students write me a special memory, a good luck wish, or just letting me know how they feel.  The box was full, which was pretty humbling.  MK, one of my favorite moms (because she has 2 awesome kids and she has no problem advocating for important things even if it means calling the superintendent and she will bend over backwards to get something done, because she knows how important it is) came onto the stage and presented me with the box – I assume she had something to do with the organizing of it, but I can’t be sure – and I was doing fine, up until her voice started to crack and she started to get watery eyes.

The kids at the 50’s Grill, the traditional hangout after the final show were a riot.  By the time that we got there, they had already gone through about 50 “speeches” hugged everyone twice, got all hyper from soda and ice cream, and were in screaming mode when I arrived.  It was complete chaos – but I loved it.  They were all shouting over one another, I must have hugged kids close to 15,000 times, and I heard “I love you all” twice as many.  It was a good and important moment for them and it was made me realize, that these kids are going to be just fine.  They are bright, resilient, compassionate, creative kids and any new director would be best served to see that in them as well.

My last 50’s Grill cast party.  A great time was had by all.

Opening night

Last night was the opening of my last musical at my current school, Guys and Dolls.  It was kind of an emotional time and I was doing fine until one of my students said “Well Mr. Redman, how do you feel that your last Opening Night is over?”  I played it off and replied “We have 3 more shows.  No time for getting sad.  It was a great Opening Night wasn’t it?”

The truth is, it is hitting me pretty hard.  During the rehearsal process it didn’t phase me at all – of course, under the stress of behavior management, communicating with parent volunteers, and still teaching during the day all I wanted was for the show to be over.

But last night the kids had a fantastic opening night.  I mean, the show was spectacular.  And I am not just saying that because they are my students and I directed it – they really did an amazing job.  Believe me, if it was bad or boring I would admit it and chalk it up to “Well, they had a great time doing it”, but it was really good.  The general perception is that a middle school production is amateur at best, flat, off key, long and uninspiring – but that is not the case and I think anyone that goes into this show with that mentality walks away with a new perspective on what 1-14 year olds can do on the stage.

As I sat there in the dark, watching the students in the booth hit all their lighting and sound cues (M.D. – the Sound Crew chief, and a 7th grader, was a picture of professionalism), as I comically danced in the back with the Vocal Director and the Tech Director and listened to O.D. (the Assistant Director) make careful and critical observations about the performance, as I fielded questions from J.K (the Stage Manager and a 7th grader), my mind began to wander to the very first day of rehearsal.  Then I realized this was it.

Saturday night, I am not sure I am going to be able to keep it together.  Last year at the end of Music Man, the 8th graders started crying and it made me a little misty eyed.  This year, I am going to have to work at keeping it together.  Not only will I be saying goodbye to the 8th graders, but I will be saying goodbye to all of them.  Sure I will still see them in the hallway, but it won’t be the same.  I guess that is kind of the beauty of theater.  Once the set is down, the costumes returned and the props put away all we will have is the memory of that experience and that is something that never leaves you.  These kids are amazing and I look forward to seeing what they can do with their talent.

Saturday night?  I will do my best to hold it together, but it may just be important for the kids to see how much this meant to me.