Monday, October 1, 2007

Thanking My Students

I only learned, when I got to India, that saying “thank you” was an American thing. I say “thank you” automatically, to waiters and store clerks and everyone – and, of course, to my students, who like to tease me about saying it. Every time I say “thank you” in the rehearsal hall I hear my students parrot it back, imitating my accent and giggling.

But I have a few special thanks for a handful of students who have really worked hard; above and beyond, as they say. Without them, there would be no show whatsoever.

To Student #1: You have risen to leadership without trying, simply because you saw that the work needed to be done and you took the initiative to do it. Now the entire group looks to you. You took charge and built the majority of the set, and delegated what you could not build yourself. At the beginning of the workshop I gave you a very small part in the show because you seemed shy and hesitant to take risks and make big acting choices. Now you are no longer shy, and your talents are very clear. I would like to ship you to the National School of Drama in Delhi and have them train you to become a first-class technical director.

To Student #2: You grab my attention every time you step onstage. Your commitment to your work shows both in your focus to your part and in the millions of questions you ask me after every rehearsal, many of which reveal parts of the play I hadn’t thought about before. You’re the kind of actor who forces me to work harder. Keep at it.

To Student #3: If I had to do it over again, I would cast you differently. Maybe. The trouble is that you’re one of those “triple threat” types – in addition to being a strong actor you’re also an extremely strong dancer and musician. So of course, looking at the needs of the group, I chose to make you the leader of our chorus of magical spirits, because it was a role that demanded rhythm and movement. I know that disappointed you. You would have been good in many of the principal character roles as well. Thanks for choosing to work hard with the part you were given.

To Student #4: You showed up two weeks after the start of class and wanted to be a part of the show. So I made you “assistant stage manager,” a role which is pretty much a title that allows you to watch the rehearsals. Then, when my assigned stage manager took on a different project and stopped coming to rehearsals, you stepped up. You’ve been an invaluable help since.

To Student #5: I know you stayed up until midnight for three days straight translating the script for us. Thank you.

To Student #6: Your Thermacor sculptures are lovely. I’m sorry I thought you were working too slow and tried to take your props away from you. I didn’t know then that you would decide to put so much extra time into what you were making. The finished product is absolutely worth it.

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