The Drama Within the Drama
By Chick Moorman
The annual Board of Education dinner was running smoothly.
The board members and superintendents, representing twelve local
school districts and one regional unit, had arrived on time and
were networking profitably. The meal was hot, tasty, and filling.
The preliminaries that led up to the evening's entertainment held
no hint of the drama soon to follow.
Entertainment, provided by the hosting high school's
drama club, consisted of a short play acted by several juniors and
seniors. A comedy, the play was intended to be light and lively,
leaving the audience entertained and amused. It didn't work out
The students performed flawlessly as the presentation
began. Their timing was impeccable, and the audience roared at all
the right moments. The students and all sixty-three board members
seemed to be enjoying themselves. Then it happened.
Suddenly, the young man who had the lead role paused
in the center of the stage and took on that deer-in-the-headlights
look that signaled he had forgotten his next line. He froze and
stared straight ahead. A prompt came from offstage. He began but
halted again, looking frightened. Another prompt came from the wings.
Everyone in the audience could hear the prompt. But
for some reason, the student who stood center stage did not. He
chose to bolt. He turned, walked off to his right, and disappeared.
(Later it was discovered that he had walked out of the school, jumped
in his car, and gone home.)
The crowd was visibly taken aback. They slumped in
their chairs and let their mouths drop open. The drama instructor
waited momentarily to see if the student would return. When he did
not, the instructor walked out on stage with the script in hand
and read the missing student's lines. The play continued with this
drama teacher reading the necessary lines while the other students
played out their roles.
Board members applauded at the end. The remaining
performers took the customary curtain call and smiled at the appreciation
and recognition they received. But when the curtain closed for the
final time, board members were left wondering what had happened
to the young man. They sat there whispering about the incident with
concern on their faces. That's when the instructor surfaced from
behind the curtain and began to speak.
"Some of you may be wondering about our lead
actor and how he's doing," he began. "I don't know yet,
but I can assure you that the end result will be positive. This
incident will be an incredible learning experience for everyone
in class, including me.
"What you saw was a young man stumble and fall
down. My job, as a professional educator, is to help him and the
other students learn how to get back up from a fall. We will be
working on this first thing tomorrow morning.
"Another responsibility of mine is to help young
people learn to encourage and support others who have stumbled.
This incident will provide me with the opportunity I need to teach
that lesson. All of my students will get to practice this tomorrow.
"Please take no offense, board members, but although
these important lessons are not covered in the textbooks you provide
or measured on the tests students must take to determine their graduation
eligibility, I believe they have great value.
"These are the lessons I live for as a teacher.
This is where I feel I earn my money. I don't really teach drama,
I teach human beings. So when one of my students makes a mistake
like this, I rejoice. It gives me an exciting opportunity to help
all my students learn to become more effective human beings.
"It was a great night tonight. Tomorrow will
be even better. Thanks for inviting us to present."
A long pause ensued. It was followed by a standing
Chick Moorman is the author of "Spirit
Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish A Child's Spirit." He also publishes
a FREE email newsletter for parents and another for educators. Subscribe
to them when you visit www.chickmoorman.com.
Chick Moorman is one of the world's foremost authorities on raising
responsible, caring, confident children. For more information about
how he can help you or your group meet your teaching needs, visit his