By Andy Goff
Many of my students have never seen a live performance in the theater. When an opportunity to see a show at Trinity Rep comes up, I do my best to make it happen. I want them to have this opportunity for many reasons. First, going to the theater gives them the opportunity to hone their social etiquette skills. Their phones are away; they sit attentively through a performance; they walk to and from the performance in a casual but purposeful fashion; they write a thank you note after the performance. These actions may seem trivial, but for some of my students, they are a first.
Second, I love exposing them to the magic of a performance. Frequently, when we enter the theater, their chatter begins to focus on the stage. Recently, when fifty students and I attended Fade, their comments sparked lots of curiosity about the office set up. They began to look around the theater for more clues about the imminent performance. Also, when I take my seniors, they have a new appreciation for the role of the actor. For the past sixteen years, my students have performed an abridged Shakespeare play thanks to a Trinity Rep six-week residency. During this time, every student has to enter the world of an actor: memorize lines, understand stage directions and nuance. After they see the professional actors’ performance, they have an entirely new level of appreciation for their commitment and talent. They also get to relate to them with shared experience- being on the stage. Huge.
Third, I love bringing them to a play because for three hours, they get to leave their current adolescent world, often filled with angst and pressure, and enter a new world, often filled with topics they can relate to but aren’t directly theirs.
Experiencing a live performance at Trinity Rep compared to reading or watching a film adaptation of a text is a game changer for many of my students. When the actors perform, my students get to experience first hand and in close proximity, their facial expressions; their dramatic pauses; their interplay; the scenery changes; the audience reactions: laughter, astonishment, suspense, tears, joy. Most importantly, they get to do this together with their peers, friends, and strangers alike regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation. All are welcome at Trinity Rep.
We always leave Trinity, more enlightened and more excited to embrace the challenges and joys of today’s world.