Monday, April 28, 2008

Fear & Friendship in 48 Hours

Just got back from 48 hours in NYC, where I presented at NYU's Shakespeare Conference. I felt oh-so-academic as I milled around with fellow teachers, performers, directors, and professors, discussing all things related to the Bard. What I found was this:
1) Truly smart people don't have to use big words. In fact, it's a lot more effective (and cuter) when you use words like "fanny."
2) Just because you have a British accent doesn't mean you're brilliant.
Seriously, the weekend was fabulous, and I was just so honored to be presenting alongside some truly remarkable people. I attended four workshops, a paper panel, and a production of Twelfth Night. That was a trip--the actress playing Viola was a girl I'd coached for Romeo & Juliet four years ago. Back then, she was this mousy little thing--albeit incredibly brilliant--whom I actually wound up writing a paper on (the phrase I used to describe her was "refreshingly age-appropriate.") Now, she is this very composed and lovely young woman about to graduate high school. I praised her in the talkback afterward, and her face just lit up when she recognized me. It was a very cool moment. As a teacher, you just get used to letting students crawl into your heart, set up shop for a while, and then they vacate. You're left with memories and funny anecdotes and just pray that they'll turn out okay. So this was such a gift--to see a kid you've really loved just thriving as a young adult.
My workshop was entitled "The Play's The Thing: Teaching Hamlet in the Secondary Classroom." I got some great feedback, and although I barely ate all day due to insane nerves, it was well worth the trip. (If you'd like a copy of the workshop, do let me know--I'm all about sharing!)
I also got to meet up with some of my favorite people while I was in the city--people whom I admire, respect, and love wholeheartedly, and who always affirm me in the best ways possible. On the infuriating ride home (they oversold the train, so I was stuck with my 50-pound suitcase balanced on my lap for the whole trip--oh, and then they had to replace the motor, so we were trapped in a dark, airless car for 40 minutes), I distracted myself by focusing on how grateful I am for the gift of these people in my life. God truly does send you people for a reason.
And now I'm back in da 'Hill...and so, so grateful to be back with my boys. :)