Short Stories

From Stage To Page

Dear Readers,

The Show Must Go on

            On April 14, 2007, I took my final bow after a ten-year career as a theater manager. As I walked out of the building, which became my second home rather than my place of employment, I dared not look back in fear of busting into tears and running screaming back into the building. I had become attached to my co-workers and some of the clients. As melancholy as I felt at that moment, I know that it was time to move on. As I sat in the back of a black luxurious town car one of my rewards from my employer for years of “good service”, I looked out on the black blue sky and remembered something that my late father had said to me. He said, “No matter what you choose to do in life, make sure that you go out with your boots on.”

Theater life was not always easy or fair, something I now recognize; when I started out as an usher, I was much younger and dumbfounded. The people, the performance, and the energy delighted me. When you’re young and have stars in your eyes its hard to comprehend that the life presented on stage isn’t real, but just acting; it’s when the lights go out that real life begins; some times I struggled to separate the two. It was thrilling to brag to friends and family about the legendary people I encountered each day; I was beyond star struck.

I craved going to work each day; for the first two years, I worked hard never arriving late and only calling in sick once; and for that, I was promoted to House Manger. In my ignorant thinking I somehow thought that this position made me an important person. It took me many years to discover how burdensome my life as a Theater House Manager would become and that it is behind the curtain before the audience arrived that the real drama played out.

I was employed at what some people described as a road house (rental theater); the staff was made up of office administrative workers, box office personal, the crew (the stage hands), concessions, and finally the ushers and managers ( the house staff). Our mission statement was that our door of two main stage theater’s capacity 918 & 262 was open to all artist and cultural expressions. The very survival of our theater was dependent upon rental clients. I dare not go into the many tales of each experience most, of them were good, and the bad let’s just say that on those days, I wished I had stayed in bed.

The day that I was promoted they shook my hand, patted me on my back and smiled. I had no idea the ride that I was in for; no one told me that the manager was the first to arrive and the last to leave; nor was I warned about the game, blame the manager.

The manager was to bare the burden for whatever went wrong regardless of whether it was his or her fault; it was explained to me by my artist director in this way, “You’re the manager and that’s just the way things go.” There is no real job description to define what a theater manager duties are because there are so many; tasks are added on the longer you stay in the position. Everyone depends on you for answers and conflict resolution.

Let’s look at the business side there are rules with running a rental theater; rules of safety, limitations, and restricting the clients of time and space. These guidelines are present and acknowledged by the client during the signing of the contract, however, on the day of the event all bets are off, and it is the manager’s job to be diplomatic when trying to enforce rules; while keeping the client from having a nervous breakdown because they feel that I’m ruining their show.

When the day go well this will consist of the staff arriving on time, the client is a smooth operator and agrees to make minor adjustments to stay within the contract guidelines. The house opens on time, the audience is pleasant, and at the end of the evening, the client is loaded out the door singing our praises of a job well done. The other side to a good day is when the day goes bad. This is when I have to switch gears going into full throttle, smile a lot, and remind the staff of the customer service motto. What is a manager to do when the crew, the box office, concession staff, and the client all come calling with problems that need to be solved now; of course no one wants to take a number and stand in line. It is at the end of such a day that I found myself at my favorite pub contemplating how I am going to do this again tomorrow.

This job affected the normal activity of my life. The grind of the long hour, the early morning, the late nights, office hours, and the constant problem solving drove me nuts. During my tenure as house manager, I was a full-time undergrad student, while working part-time as a college mentor and tutor. My social life went to the dogs. I missed every major family gathering I am ashamed to even say some funerals. Trying to have a  relationship was out of the question;  a man can only hear, no I have to go to work, no I have class, no I  have to study, and no I have to sleep, but so many times before he cracked. The last ten years my best friends became my job, school, the library, the computer, and my bed.

 

Looking back, do I feel cheated? Yes and no. What that job provided me with was a descent salary, a benefit package, great co-workers, flexibility in my work schedule so that I could complete my degree. If I knew then what I know now would I have taken the job, yes. In that ten years I gained a great deal of knowledge on how to run a business, supervise a staff, multi task, how to balance time, and most of all how to give the best that I had to offer of myself in order to get the best outcome for all who were involved. I had my chance to run with the big boys and I survived; now I feel good about riding off in the sunset with my boots on.

What Say You?

Theatre-Graphic

Education

Teachers Accountability versus Students Responsibility

EXPLORACTeachers Accountability versus Students Responsibility

In this modern age of technology that changed the  way teachers teach in the class, and how students are retaining  course  content, the question is raised  as to  who should be held accountable for students’ academic success or failure? It was once the educators’ duty to ensure that the knowledge we hold be passed onto the hungry minds of students. This process of teaching is referred to as the “Banking Concept,” a phrase that Paul Freire discussed. This method of instruction is where the teachers deposit information into the students’ minds, then leads to them using memorization of information in a specific chronological order. Once upon a time, in the education system, there was no teaching to the test and the idea of Banking Education was used to ensure that students could at least remember dates, names, events and terms. This stored information which was to be applied to exams that measured the level of course comprehension and skills.

Those were the days of old.  Today the problem is culpability for our students’ lack of understanding over what is being asked of them in the classroom where the core of learning is supposed to take place.  In Adrienne Rich’s Convocation Speech delivered at Douglass College in 1977, she states that “If…education means anything beyond the processing of human beings into expected roles…through test and grades, it implies an ethical and intellectual contract between teacher and student”.  Rich statement brings us to the question of teacher accountability and student responsibility. This matter is a debate that the state continues to arguing back and forth due to our students’ failing grades on standardized test.  Nowadays, teachers are given report cards based on their classroom performance and on the percentage of students who pass or fail standardized exams. Thus, the state has redirected how course content should be taught and places heavy blame on teachers if they fail to properly prepare students. Moreover, students have been taken out of the learning equation, meaning that they are no longer held liable for their own education.

As stated by Rich “Students are no longer laying claim to what is rightfully theirs.” In other words, they have lost the sense of what they owe to themselves and replaced it with what they feel is owed to them by educators.  Basically, Students are refusing to think for themselves, therefore allowing others to dictate how they should be educated.  This releases themselves of culpability and encourages using teachers as scapegoats for the reason as to why this nation is turning out poorly prepared students.  Parents have also jumped on the band wagon of holding teachers accountable for Johnny not knowing how to read. The parents who are crying foul are the same parents who do not attend PTA meetings, fail to show up at teacher parent conference, and even worst, they do not take the time to sit with their children to assist with homework. Moreover, they feel as others do; it is solely the teacher’s duty to educate their children because that is what the state pays them teachers to do. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The same can be said for educating our children. Pointing fingers, passing the buck and playing the blame game is not going to solve the problem of balancing students responsibilities and teachers culpability in such a  highly technology advanced society.

Drama

The Great Valentine’s Day Myth

WITH LOVE,dragthepen.wordpress.com

Here we go again. Another Valentine’s Day or as I call it a day for SUCKERS. Valentine’s Day is a day for some women to hold men hostage for “A RING”. A few women will receive roses, that will dry up and die just like the relationship they are in. The majority of women who get excited on Valentine’s Day, due so because this is the only day out of an entire  year when their partner will express love towards them.

My hope for women on this Valentine’s Day is for them to know their own worth, and stop measuring how someone else sees their value. Women of all ages must understand the value of self-love rather than waiting for someone to show love to them. You are more precious than any DIAMOND RING. You have a beauty that Surpasses the life of any ROSE. Don’t buy into the myth that Valentine’s Day is that one special day to show your loved. The Bible says that” Love is patient, Love is kind, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perverse. ( 1 Corn 13:4-7) NIV. LOVE DOESN’T LAST JUST FOR ONE DAY.