Wednesday, December 18, 2019

On-the-Scene Report

It is 3:59 pm on a Wednesday afternoon at my school. If the gods are doing their work well, my daughter and grandchildren are in the air winging from Portland after two maddening delays. It will mean the world to me to have them witness my last play at The San Francisco School and they sacrificed work and school time at their end, only to be foiled by a south wind at the SFO Airport. But according to the last text, I think their plane finally took off and they will arrive in time. All digits crossed.

Meanwhile, today was a joyful dress rehearsal with the 3rd/4th/5thgraders performing The Phantom Tollbooth for K through 2nd, 6ththrough 8thgrade and it was a good sign that they not only came under the 90-minute mark, but the audience was mostly spellbound, older and younger kids alike, for the whole time. Also miraculous that of the 12 kids out with fevers on Monday, 8 of them returned, another may come tonight and in any case, other kids jumped in and immediately memorized lines. 

After lunch, gave some notes to the 4thgrade, details like “move two feet to the right in this scene,” “accent the word ‘Great!’”, don’t forget to react to this word or that” and the miraculous effect that mostly, in spite of body language and focus that seems to say, “I’m not listening,” they actually hear and more miraculously, remember!!

Then came the last Preschool Singing time with the Interns and wasn’t that sweet. Three hours after school to attend to final details (well, now two hours), walk over to the art room where my wife taught so many years that will now be renovated for who-knows-what- reason, take a few photos and there are two alums working with kids who were in our Elementary Plays some 12 years ago. How it goes on.

Now in the school library, rain outside, praying for the South Wind to let the planes land, nothing more in particular to do and the thought to write about the nothing in particular to do that I’m doing right now after all that went into this play. It’s all over but the shoutin’ and I hope I mean that literally as the hardest thing about directing plays is to get kids who talk too loud in the library to talk that loud on stage! 

I should look forward to the release of hard work climbing to the final chord, but then there is a Coda with the 8thgrade’s St. George and the Dragon production which I have to rehearse with them tomorrow and have them perform on Friday. Kind of low stakes, but hey, in the world of art, every performance is worthy of mastery and a public presentation that is memorable. We’ll see, especially as they have also been decimated by the flu and such and we’ve yet to have a full cast. 

So that’s the peek into the music teacher’s world, such as it is. And may I say that when it comes to these plays, no miracle of oil burning or virgin births is quite so astounding as getting 60 children on stage to act, sing, play, dance and generally bring stories to life with humor, nuance, energy and mastery. May it come to pass yet again!

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