Every moment is an opportunity to learn.
Ever since I was a child, my father was able to seamlessly integrate a lesson into everyday life. Once, when something fell off the counter in the kitchen, he asked me the question: If a man drops a bullet off the edge of a cliff and fires a gun at the exact same time, which bullet will hit the ground first? This moment was completed with a diagram on a whiteboard on the fridge along with the answer: They hit the ground at the same time. Why was I so intrigued in this moment? How was my father able to capture my attention? Why do I still remember that moment, twenty years later? I remember this moment because my father never missed an opportunity to teach. Like my father, I hope to seize any educational opportunities that arise, whether those moments take place in the classroom or in the rehearsal hall.
What happens when I seize even the smallest opportunity to impart wisdom upon an unsuspecting student? The butterfly effect. Every action, word, and choice I make as a teacher (and a human being) has an effect. This effect may be huge (a student changes his entire trajectory as a theatre artist because of a physical theatre discussion we have) or small (a student tries out a new active verb). When teaching for a private kindergarten center in Ashburn, Virginia, I suggested adding music into their curriculum. Little did I know, this one “butterfly wing-flap” would incredibly affect one of my students: Malcolm. I was amazed when Malcolm, a boy who was always very quiet and rarely became enthused about any subject but recess, perked up, and sat on his heels (despite my instruction to “criss-cross applesauce”). He could not contain his enthusiasm! From that moment on, every morning he asked, “Is today a music day?” I remember an experience similar to Malcolm’s while at Kutztown University: I found out about commedia dell’arte and physical theatre. I couldn’t believe an entire genre of theatre existed that fit my interests so perfectly! How could I have been so unaware for so long?!
The choice of one man to become a teacher
was the initial “butterfly wing-flap” that caused
the tsunami of my theatre career.
Just as my voice and movement professor opened up a whole new world for me, my goal as a theatre artist and teacher is to seize any “butterfly wing-flap” opportunities that come my way. I want others to realize the field of theatre is one with infinite possibilities. Performing on stage is only one part of the many challenging facets of theatre.
The stage is not for everyone, but theatre is.
My goal as a theatre teacher is to create connections between students and theatre in practical ways. If a student has stage fright and is an amazing artist, I will introduce him to scenic design. If a student has stage fright and is extremely organized, I will introduce him to stage management. If a student has stage fright and is a history buff, I will introduce him to dramaturgy. If a student has stage fright but is a structural engineer, I will introduce him to technical theatre. There is a place for everyone in theatre. For those who wish to tell a story and grab the focus of a crowd of people, the stage is for them. For others, there are unlimited options!
As a theatre teacher, I want to break down the imaginary wall between the “theatre kids,” the “jocks,” the debate team, the A/V club, the cheerleaders, and every other group in a school setting. There is a place in theatre for athletes. Have you ever flown in a set piece from the wings? Or “West-coasted” a 500 pound soft good? You need to be strong. Athletes are strong. There is a place in theatre for the chess team. Have you ever tried to create a schedule that works for 50 different people with all of their different conflicts? You need to strategize. I believe that I can find a place in the production process for everyone. Tell me what you enjoy, and I will find a way to turn your interest into one that serves a production. Why would I spend my time figuring out a way to involve a chess team member into a theatre production? The butterfly effect. By introducing one person to the world of theatre and seizing that learning opportunity, I will have potentially changed not only his or her life, but the lives of his or her family and friends as well.
Seize every opportunity!