For months now Mrs. Shaffer, my co-sponsor for the drama club, and I have been pushing, prodding, pleading, and begging our drama students to show up for rehearsals, memorize their lines, and learn their blocking. We’d pretty much given up fighting them for their time, attention, and their senioritis. We decided to give them free reign to sink or swim, as we couldn’t keep fighting them. Despite the fact that they “didn’t bring it” during rehearsals and their ostensible lack of commitment, I need to learn to have more faith.
I have the pleasure of saying all of my frustration and the students’ hard work have paid off.
Today was the Garcia Theatre Project, USC Aiken One-Act play festival and we racked up the awards. Out of five participating schools and dozens of performers, our ENTIRE cast received All-Star Cast Member awards. One cast member also received a Best Narrator award. Our play received Best Costumes, Best Technical/Use of Set, AND … drum roll please…BEST PLAY!
A bit of background: None of the Aiken County high schools have drama programs as part of the school curriculum. Four years ago, the Garcias, Public Education Partners, and USC Aiken teamed up to provide a grant for Aiken high schools to produce a one-act play and perform at the newly organized festival. Participating schools receive a monetary grant, set pieces, and mentoring. A year or two before, my school had started a “drama club” that was hardly worth the name. I can say this as I was the sponsor and, having absolutely no experience in theatre or drama, I had no idea what direction to take the club.
Thanks to the Garcia Theatre Project, not only did we actually produce a play that first year, we also began learning the ins and outs of theatre. Each year our school has steadily improved our performances and productions. Last year 2/3rds of our cast received All-Star Cast Member awards and our play won 2nd place for best play. This year, my students totally blew all of my expectations. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling yet. I cannot be more pleased with my students–they continually surprise and amaze me.