This lesson started by accident. During our college essay-writing unit, Andrew Kafoury, a senior in my Writing for Publication class, wrote a passionate essay to win acceptance into a college known for its theater program. He wrote: "When [the admissions officer] asked me to tell him why I was interested in the College of Santa Fe, I froze up. It must have been the way he was looking at me, doubtful and unimpressed. I sort of mumbled and stumbled on sentences, trying to find 10-letter words to impress him, when I should have told him the simple truth":
I love acting. I love putting on costumes and becoming creatures I am not. I love my skin sweating as bright lights send heat soaking through my body. I love getting to know my cast, watching the drama behind the drama. I love the quick change, the blackout, the dry ice and stage combat. I love cranky stage managers and quiet co-stars. I love watching ego-stricken actors fall into decline while a new face emerges from the shadows. I love the monster special effects that steal the show, and that oh-so-precious moment when you, the actor, send the audience head over heels with laughter. I love the call sheet with my name on it, and the director who calls to say I'm perfect for the part. I love the shows that I wish would go on forever, and even the ones I can't stand till they're over.I love sitting backstage, exhausted from the matinee, and knowing in another two hours I'll go out there and do it again. I love to play the bad guy, and I love getting that killer role I've always wanted. Hell, I love it when they toss a spear in my hand and say, "Go stand in the corner." I love classical and contemporary, tragedy and comedy, romance and swashbuckling! I live for the moment when I run on stage for curtain call and the applause gets just a little bit louder. I love the smooth feeling of steady memorization, and those intense moments when something unexpected happens, like an actor not showing up two minutes before curtain, so the stage hands have to make a split-second decision because, damn it, man, the show MUST go on.
Photo: David Bacon
After Andrew read his essay to fourth period, I decided the rest of the students should all experiment with an "I love . . ." piece to potentially add to their college essays. It was just too much of a teachable moment to waste. Some ended up in my students' college essays-like my daughter, Gretchen Hereford's, below-while others turned into prose poetry.