I’m in the throes of preparing students for a big performance. There are lots of after-school rehearsals, lunchtime rehearsals and seized-moments-in-between-other-classes rehearsals going on. Essentially, my desk has turned into a holding bay for random props and extensive lists that I can never find when I most need them.
I have also, four weeks away from opening night, taken to waking at 2am and having major epiphanies until 4am. Needless to say, when my alarm clock rings at 6.30am I am not waking relaxed nor refreshed.
There is nothing that embodies the martyr more than a drama teacher in full production mode. I know, because I am living it. While colleagues are bemoaning the pending report writing season and their marking loads I wish I only had to contend with their pressures.
I have even taken to stalking the corridors on the way to class, clutching a coffee — not something I do at any other time of year. I have come to the conclusion that I must do it as much for impact as I do necessity. Maybe it’s my little way of sharing the stress of walking around with an extensive to-do list in my head and a song on repeat that even my husband is now whistling thanks to my constant enthusiastic renditions around the house.
I am now on first-name terms with the couple who run the local $2 shop (Bruce and Peng) as I seem to be spending countless hours trawling the aisles for bargain props, costumes and decorative wares. I have also ascertained that they have a great range of pet toys and fantastic stationery — just as important as production paraphernalia in the whole scheme of things and a definite sanity aid.
When you add a three-hour rehearsal to the end of a full teaching day, no-one is going to come out on top. Even the thrill of missing a staff meeting for the privilege fails to counteract the tension of such an action-packed day. The stress of the whole thing makes you slightly deranged, and the kids’ lack of focus drives you crazy.
“Miss, do you think we should wear purple glitter eye-shadow in this section?”
“Miss, can we get fluoro yellow leg-warmers for this dance?”
“Miss, look at Travis! He just shot Fanta out through his nose!”
Last rehearsal, I overheard a student say to another, “Miss Adams always goes a bit psycho during production. If you think she’s bad now, wait till the week before — that’s when she really loses it.”
I think this student might have compared notes with my husband, as, yes, this is traditionally when the wheels come off. This year, to add further intrigue and challenge, the production will be taking place during report writing week. This will no doubt send me one step further over the edge than usual — no doubt all around me will revel in this experience.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.