Archive for drama class

“When will my reflection show, who I am inside?”

Posted in ACTING ONSTAGE, DIRECTING FOR THE STAGE, THE HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE CLASSROOM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by erikball123

I get so caught up in my own pride sometimes that I cannot see past my own nose. My little world that revolves around me and my self-absorbed, self-motivated, me, me, me, me, me-ness! How in the world can I begin to exemplify what I teach in my classroom everyday if I cannot regroup with enough dignity and pride-swallowing tact to consider myself even the most remote example to my students? I can’t.

On the flip-side…we’re all sinners. We make mistakes. In our efforts to extend ourselves as mentors, leaders..heck, human beings…we think so far outside of the box, we forget about what is INSIDE the box…which is what’s really important, right?

Enough speaking in generalities. So I got my hand slapped by my boss today. I did something stupid…I knew it…and I feel very bad. I showed an excerpt from an R-Rated movie (Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd”) in my H.S. Drama class before getting a parent permission slip signed by parents granting permission to do so. I usually pass these things out at the beginning of the year, and just keep them on file. I didn’t this time, and due to a time crunch, and a unaccommodating absence (I took a sick day), the film was presented, and the students saw Sasha Baron Conen’s bloody demise. Now, here’s the thing…I’m pretty positive that the majority of the class already saw the film…and I’m not so worried about any of them moving to London, grabbing a leather strop, and beginning a barber’s profession….but I DID know that I should have gotten the permission slip signed first.

Why did I show the film? I guess I don’t have a clear answer. Perhaps in the “big picture” of what happens at Faith Lutheran, I saw this as a small “oversight.” Perhaps, I thought no one would ever know. Perhaps…I didn’t care. I’m uncertain. I do know this…the ultimate reason for that decision was based on a luke warm form of conceit. Whatever the reason…whatever the motivation…I didn’t care enough for a policy I knew about to take a harder, more complicated road. That’s lazy, selfish and conceited.

I’m mad at myself for it. I contacted the concerned parent. I emailed all of the parents in both H.S. Drama classes to apologize and offer an explanation. I even forwarded correspondence to my boss and apologized to him. I suppose this all falls under the category of “do now…ask for forgiveness later.” Dang it.

We all know right from wrong. So why do we so often choose wrong? Why is that little shoulder devil’s voice so loud? I wonder if my inner monologue is getting drowned out by what I WANT to do, and the secular world that so willingly encourages me to do so. Ah….now I’m skirting blame. No, no…this is something that I’m toiling over…dealing with and sorry for. But that doesn’t right the wrong. Every tiff I engage my wife in usually ends with her saying “I’m sorry doesn’t necessarily erase the past.” As crazy as that sometimes makes me…she’s right. She’s right.

I was also angry last Saturday because tonight was the first Preview night for the musical I’m in, “Beauty and the Beast” with Signature Productions. Saturday they blocked the curtain call. I found myself quite upset about where my character was placed in the order for bows. (I know…”How arrogant!” I’m with ya.) I actually pouted. I would not say a word during the blocking of the curtain call…and did my job, but afterward, inside I felt I deserved better. (Even typing that makes me ashamed.)

I look back at that moment last Saturday and I can barely fathom how I could have been so childish…so selfish…so unappreciative. This role and opportunity is a privilege. The costume was made for me…the lights are adjusted to highlight a scene featuring me…the program has my name in it…and hours of time, talent and effort were afforded to me is unimaginable. How dare I snuff out all of those efforts for the sake of a post-show lineup! I DO get a curtain call…that’s more than some people get! My sincerest apologies to my fellow actors/directors. I love you all, appreciate you all…and would never take a second of recognition away from any of you. I promise you that is NOT why I do what I do…and I am ashamed I thought that way. Hindsight is 20/20. I guess I need to get my eyes checked.

Changing subjects…I found a box of Jello Pudding Pops in the ice cream aisle yesterday. I freaked out. I haven’t seen these puppies in years! Seriously…if you haven’t tried these things….they’re amazing! I unwrapped the creamy treat, and took a bite. Nostalgia melted on my tongue and I was in chocolate-covered heaven! What a treat, and surprise.

Another unexpected surprise…I received a phone call from MIKE LOGAN. Mike is my best friend from high school. I haven’t spoken to him in 8 years. Why? I’m not sure…we kinda parted and went our separate ways. There wasn’t much explanation…and when we talked, we both felt terrible about the past and looked forward to the future. I have only good memories about Mike. I remember our misadventures, our trials, and the differences in our personalities that evolved into a deep respect of the others philosophies. I missed him and I didn’t realize just how much until we talked again. I’m glad he took the initiative to call me. He didn’t have to.

What a stud. Rock-hard expression and slick white jacket. Miami-Vice...look out!

What a stud. Rock-hard expression and slick white jacket. Miami-Vice...look out!

I suppose life is kinda funny in the sense that when you are burdened by a hefty agenda or when you are star-struck by your status or personal goals…you always have the opportunity to make GOOD. The option is there. Sometimes making GOOD means dealing with the bad…and who wants to do that, right? But, nobody said life was going to be easy. But, around every situation…good or bad…there lies that hidden surprise. That “something” that you weren’t expecting. That maybe small…maybe big, life-reward, that you are presented without expectation.

Call it a silly Pudding Pop…or a rekindled friendship……maybe it’s more like, a true understanding of WHAT you did wrong, and the opportunity to reflect on it….whatever it is, these “surprises” are part of your walk with Christ. These moments are what shapes and builds your character, and it’s always what you DO with these moments that makes you WHO you are.

I cannot help but feel badly about my mistakes the last couple of days. Perhaps I’m brooding. But, “sorry” doesn’t erase the past (whether it was yesterday or 8 years ago)…all you can do is look forward with anticipation. Re-thinking that lesson, re-approaching that curtain call, re-starting where your friendship left off, or re-visiting a yummy-ness of a chocolaty past….all are gifts from God. These reflections are what you can grab hold of and run with, inside or outside of the box…if you’re willing.

“And we, who with the unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit.”

– 2 Corinthians 3.18

I thought it only fair I put my Senior Picture on here too. First an foremost...could my tie knot be any smaller? Secondly...look at all that lovely hair!

I thought it only fair I put my Senior Picture on here too. First an foremost...could my tie knot be any smaller? Secondly...look at all that lovely hair!

Go the Distance.

Posted in ACTING ONSTAGE, DIRECTING FOR THE STAGE, THE HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE CLASSROOM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by erikball123

These pictures are from the set of the motion picture “ROCKY BALBOA.” I was an extra in the final fight scene.

There’s this moment in the movie ROCKY where the timid Adrianne looks at her love in the eyes and says “why do you want to fight.” Rocky says simply, “because I can’t sing or dance.”

“Those who can’t….teach” is a common saying. I hear it often. Usually it is presented by someone who has never stepped in front of a class before. Usually it’s said after someone presumes they know what it’s like to be in the field of education…”and those amazing three-month vacations, where teachers relax and walk the beaches…nurture rich, dark tans…and live in Never-Never land until August!”

Give me a break. Granted, my particular position is nothing to complain about. I work in a beautiful school, with amazing students…and the faculty lounge coffee?…..It’s not so bad. But, anyone who says that teaching is a field where lazy, wanna-be professionals go to die…they need a gigantic bite of reality pie.

Rocky is probably not a prime example. But I like the fact that this boxer continues to fight against insurmountable odds, because he truly believes he is destined to do so. “Because he can’t sing or dance.”

This school district in Las Vegas is not a good one. Even the superintendent agrees. But, I refuse to believe that ANY educational environment is beyond hope…and likewise, I refuse to believe that every teacher is “lazy” by the saying’s insinuation. Teachers are forever students, always wanting to grow as providers. I’m not saying we’re all alike…some are short…some are tall. Some graduated with a 3.9 GPAs….some barely graduated….yet all teachers get the same opportunity: “To mold and shape the future leaders!”

I suppose it’s just like saying all lawyers are sharks…and all doctors are quacks. Sheesh. Is there anything nice to say about people out there? Is there any positive reinforcement? I know there is, somewhere. And I’m not just talking about the superficial nonsense that accompanies those denim vests with sparkly reindeer or “Happy Holiday” flowers that elementary teachers wear. Look beyond the Christmas Tree ornaments that say “Teachers are Special”….and remember, before anyone can scrutinize a teacher’s motives…a teacher’s philosophy….a teacher’s effectiveness….you have to agree that at LEAST all teachers have one thing in common….like Rocky Balboa, they keep getting up when knocked down. Everyday is a build up…and test of endurance. Everyday teacher’s must file away their personal lives and allow their student’s personal lives to take the forefront. They must go the distance. In a sense…they are the ultimate student. I can’t think of another job where the goal of the job is to purposely plant yourself in the seat of the target audience and simply…endure….transform….regroup….and engage again.

My wife once said that teaching is the only job where your job description changes EVERYDAY. No two days are the same. Ever. Think about it. A fireman knows that either they will or will not put out fires that day. Teachers put out fires….start fires….talk about starting fires….prevent fires….fuel fires….or catch on fire! They are the only people that plan for the un-plannable. It’s a tough job.

It’s also the most refreshing and rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. I continue live with the stigma of having to live up to a Private Lutheran School Teacher expectation. Is that too bad? Nah…but it’s an expectation. And in or out of the classroom, attempting to ALWAYS exceed that expectation gets tiring sometimes. Sometimes it feels like a never ending battle. Sometimes it’s a thankless, never ending battle. Sometimes it’s a losing….thankless….neverending battle.

It’s no wonder my colleagues at Faith Lutheran are such amazing people. I know I roll my eyes at the stodgy-ness of some of their philosophies. Perhaps the philosophy that needs to be under the microscope should be mine! My rolling eyes never seem to think that though. But, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have the freedom to go to my Lord in prayer every day. In a school that not only embraces that….but encourages that….well, it makes the un-plannable approachable. It’s makes fire feel bearable. It helps the weakest fighter go the distance.

Alright…I’ll go there. Why am I not working as an actor on Broadway? Heck…working as an actor anywhere! Why? I don’t know. God’s plan, I guess. I can tell you this. Ten years ago, I sure wouldn’t have told you that I was going to be a high school teacher. But then again, ten years ago I was pursuing an acting career…and I was in a self-loathing, self-indulgent, self-ish…pit. My ambitions consisted of landing that commercial audition and feeling the warmth of the spotlight on my face in front of a crowd. Sounds okay for the novice goal-setter! But for the ambitious, A.D.D. actor….nope. It wasn’t enough. I was so scattered…I didn’t know what was around the corner. All I knew was that when I turn that corner, I didn’t really know where I wanted to go next.

Today…I turn the corner and find myself inspired by the shy wallflower in my 4th block class whose eyes sparkled when I used her example in class. Or the tough-guy jock in 1st block who actually made eye-contact with me today and….listened. A milestone? Maybe. A goal reached? I wouldn’t necessarily say that. But I do know that every morning…I put on both of my socks…I shave my patchy face….I eat my Apple Jacks….and I dust myself off, and start all over again.

Those who can’t…teach?

How about: “Those who have faith…teach.”

Without the grace of God…the support of my God…the wisdom and strength of my Lord…I could not even get out of bed. I’d be spineless, scared…and lazy. I’m not the example of a good teacher. Shoot! Not by a long shot! But I’m the example of an average student. One who lives, breathes, prays and learns with my classes everyday. I wouldn’t change that opportunity for anything in the world. Funny thing is….for a silly starry-eyed wanna-be actor….I never even saw it coming!

I don’t agree with Rocky. “…because I can’t sing or dance.” Eh…what does he know. I’ve seen Rhinestone! But I admire the character’s determination. I admire the fact that he knows what he NEEDS to do, whether or not he WANTS to do it. I can’t explain WHY I need to be a teacher. But I do know this…it’s not because of the teacher’s lounge coffee or the promise of a juicy red apple at the end of class. It extends so far beyond that. I can’t tell you why! I don’t know myself.

Instead…I’ll take my summer breaks, thank you! (Or as I call them, “scrimmages.”) Because if it wasn’t for those long runs up the stairs of the library, and the punching bags…and the desire….Rocky would have never gone the distance. I just continue to hope to last the next round….with faith.

%d bloggers like this: