As ArtsEmerson student employees and Theatre Education graduate students at Emerson College, Kristy Mandour and Alyssa Mulligan jointly taught an extracurricular theatre course at Citizen Schools in Roslindale this past semester. Here is Kristy’s reflection on the experience.
By Kristy Mandour
Metamorphosis. This is the theme that my cohort, Alyssa Mulligan, and I determined to be a wonderfully rich subject to bring into our Citizen School theatre apprenticeship at Irving Middle School. After all, the students were going to be seeing ArtsEmerson’s Farfalle in May. Perfect! Little did I know that our plan of creating original performance pieces, focused upon change and transformation, would trickle out way beyond the stage. Although ten 90-minute sessions is not a lot of time to really grasp a solid understanding of a topic or for that matter, a person, these students continue to show an incredible willingness to learn, explore, and take chances. The openness that flows more and more, week by week into the classroom makes me want to add on 10 more sessions with them! The comfort level that inhabits the room increases and softens as the weeks progress allowing for new discoveries of one’s self and others to be uncovered and enjoyed!
One student who is more introspective than verbal told the Program Director that he, “would never miss Theatre. It’s the most fun I’ve had in my life.” This student in particular flourished during the monologue writing, always having another idea to add to the page.These are experiences that many of the students we work with are exploring for the first time. The progress, determination, and excitement of the students during various theatre games and exercises make for incredibly poignant moments for which I am extremely grateful to take part. For example, two students who were working on character profiles together, collaborated beautifully by offering ideas and helpful hints to each other when one would hit a “writer’s block.” In another instance during the improv game “K-Mart,” the students’ teamwork and enthusiasm was vibrating throughout the room. They all, as I like to say, “went for broke” and didn’t hold back. They helped each other out during “stuck” moments and supported each other as both fellow cast mates and active audience members. Many of these are first time actors and/or writers! Their courage strengthens with each passing lesson.
The comedians, writers, drama queens (and kings!), whom we face each Wednesday afternoon, are taught which roads lead them to become our future stand up comedians, playwrights and actors whom we may see tomorrow. Not only does this acknowledgment awaken their spirit, it awakens their purpose and intent too. As my involvement with Citizen Schools and these students comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the vast amount of knowledge of human understanding and connection that I have encompassed of which I am forever thankful.