Posts Tagged ‘Drama Music’
This month is African American History month, and during a reading of the wonderful play by Kim Hines, “Home on the Mornin’ Train” in our Drama/Music class which we read as part of our school’s homage to this special month, a certain issue came up concerning some of the language chosen by the playwright that my co teacher and I were not able settle. My suggestion to the class was that I write to the playwright herself and ask her. Below is the letter. I am very hopeful to receive a response as Ms. Hines is very approachable. When and if that happens, I will certainly post that response as well.
I am hopeful that you will remember me, and probably you willnot. Several years ago I directed Home on the Mornin’ Train in a middle school in VT, and you were kind enough to offer your counsel to me on how the show could be done with all white VT kids.
Well, many things have changed in my life since then, and now I am drama teacher at the Glenforest School – a K-12 school for kids with learning differences – as well as the director of a Youth Theatre program here in Columbia SC.
I recently had my drama/music class read Home on the Mornin’ Train and study the spirituals within the script to increase awareness during African American History Month. as you might imagine, there are many more African American kids in my classes now!
Here’s what I ran into: the African American kids took exception to the way the characters in the play and the stage directions use the words Colored, Negro and black. My co-teacher and I attempted to explain what we thought the purpose was: that the characters were using terms that were accurate to the time period, but our explanations fell flat and it seemed to me that the kids either did not understand or did not believe us. Our students can be less than worldly thinkers – I do not say this in a judgmental way, but only to give you knowledge of our kids who have a range of challenges including ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome, Dyslexia and other learning differences. At any rate this makes any but concrete thinking difficult for them in many cases and I think they had a hard time seeing the use of the specific language from any but their own perspective.
So my request is this: if you have any time at all for such things anymore, would you be willing to make a statement to our students concerning your choices for the language in the play? When I mentioned that I had in fact communicated with you several years ago the students perked up their ears and really seemed to get excited that you, the playwright, were not only a real person, but someone one could communicate with! lol – again, that concrete way of thinking and looking at things.
So anyway Kim, I do hope things are going well with you, and let me tell you I really enjoyed revisiting the play. And if you happen to find time to help us out with these guys and their understanding of the language in the play, I think it would help them on many levels.
Thank you, and best of luck to you!
I have had the most delightful last nine weeks with my FAW group of kids. They worked well and got along well (ok, for the most part) happily took part in helping me prepare for the show by constructing and building and even velcro-ing the pipe system for hanging the black curtains. And I have been sad to think that it was almost time for us to change groups, though I had definitely missed some of the other Drama oriented FAW kids and was looking forward to working with them again as well.
So I was really excited when our music teacher suggested that we work together on a project. She told me that in her music class she had played ragtime for the kids, and they had really enjoyed it. And when she explained to them how it worked during the silent film era, with the music as the background, they became very excited and had a great time creating little silent scenes to go with the music.
So that’s what we have decided to do. And in this way the current drama kids will not have to move over for another bunch, as we can incorporate them all into the drama/music class while adding another set of kids for this big project. We’ll have twice as many kids as usual, but we will also have two teachers and lots of material to work with. I’m really looking forward to getting started tomorrow!