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Educator Articles


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 that way.
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 ovation.