Sue Patella, full interview transcript

Patella_Sue_int_pt 1 and pt 2

Sue Patella, 6th Grade English Teacher

May 3, 2011

Seattle, Washington

Interview by Steve Rowland


Total [01:20:27]

BEGIN Part 1 [00:65.34]

SP: . . . it seems to me that you took.

SR: On where?

SP: On that DVD. Is that possible? Because it’s—I’m trying to think, where did I see a picture of the—the two girls making the announcement before the—the show about the cell phones. Weren’t you filming that?

SR: Oh, no. Oh . . . .

SP: I can’t remember. But I . . . .

00:00:22 SR: It’s possible that they used it. I don’t know. I told them they could use anything if there was anything . . .

SP: I don’t know. I—I haven’t seen the whole thing yet but . . . .

SR: Yes. But there were going to just give me, not the DVD that they gave you . . .

SP: Oh.

SR: . . . but just the raw DVD of the stuff on Muriel I did.

SP: Oh, I see. I see. Oh, I got you. I got you. It was fun to watch her that night.

SR: She was awesome. She kind of blew my mind because she just . . .

SP: She just looked like she was: Okay, start talking.

00:00:49 SR: She—that camera was like a top-of-the-line, professional camera. She just picked it up, put it on her shoulder and said, “Okay. Dad, you ask the questions. I’ll shoot them.”

SP: I—it was great; it was great.

SR: She cracked me up.

SP: Yes.

00:01:01 SR: Okay, so today is May 3, 2010, and we’re in Seattle with English teacher—is that how you . . . ?

SP: Sure.

SR: . . . English teacher, Sue Patella.

SP: Yes.

SR: And why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself—about your background, how you ended up here at the University Prep, and how long you’ve been here.

00:01:21 SP: I am—I’m editing and sorting things out—I be—I became a teacher when that was the only thing that women could get degrees in; or got degrees in. You were either a nurse or a teacher in the ’70s—in the early ’70s. So I—that’s—I became a teacher.

00:01:45 But it—I always felt that was something that I wanted to do and—and I taught for two years in public school and then in the mid-70s they had massive layoffs in the Seattle school districts and—and I lost my job because I didn’t have enough seniority.

00:02:08 So I did my student teaching with the man—one of the founders of the school. I had done it at the University of Washington. And—so, and he had always said as soon as I have an opening I want you to teach at my school. So I started at University Prep in 1977 and I am now the second seniorist—[slight laugh] that’s not the right word—second—I’ve been here—only one teacher has been here longer than I have.

SR: Hmm.

00:02:37 SP: Well, actually that’s not true. Pat Landy is one of the founders and she teaches here still. So.

00:02:45 But my background is in speech. I don’t have a degree in literature, I don’t have—I’ve never taken a class—a college-level class in Shakespeare.

SR: Hmm.

SP: But . . . .

00:02:59 SR: So where does your—you have a very deep knowledge of Shakespeare, so where does it come from?

00:03:06 SP: You know, I’m not—I have to think back on that. I—in 1968 was the year that Franco Zeffirelli’s version of Romeo and Juliet came out and they accompanied the distribution of that movie—which I must have seen a dozen times—with a—with a record that had dialogue and parts of the movie on the record. And I—I don’t know why, I just listened to it over and over and over again. And I know the—the balcony scene by heart because of that.

00:03:48 And—and so I would just think about parts of—of that speech and—and the rhythm of it and the beauty of the language. Into—in my twenties and it—it just grabbed a hold of me and I’m—I don’t know why.

00:04:11 And then I saw—I was at the Seattle Rep [Seattle Repertory Theatre] the other day—I saw a play at the Rep—and there was this picture in the hallway of Richard Chamberlain—played Richard II at the Seattle Rep, early ’70s. And at the time he was—he was a super popular actor. Very, very popular. And so he was coming to the Rep to play Richard II and I was in college and I remember the day the tickets were available just phoning and phoning and phoning so I could get—so I could get tickets to that. And being just blown away by it.

00:04:51 And then going home and taking out the book and I remember spending hours looking at the speech he has at the end where he’s thinking—he’s in prison and he’s thinking how can I compare this prison where I—I am now to the world. And he says I can’t really do it because there’s just one of me and there—you know, there are a lot of people out there but he says I’ll give it a try. And I remember just reading it over and over and over again.

00:05:26 And it wasn’t just the language, it wasn’t just the words; it was the rhythm of it that somehow just caught a hold of me. And I—I had to understand all of it. So I would just comb over and I would look at references to make sure I understood what the words meant.

00:05:47 And if I say now what it is a—about Shakespeare that has a hold of me, it’s—it’s the rhythm and I can’t quite explain it any other way. It’s like—I read the sonnets. I have—I read the sonnets almost every day. And when I think—right now—sonnet, I hear the rhythm of the sonnet and I see the shape of the sonnet. And I’m not focusing on a particular line or a word or a phrase or anything, but it’s—it’s—it’s the rhythm of it that captures me.

00:06:23 And probably would make Shakespeare happy because they say that the—the—the connection with iambic pentameter is that it mimics the beat of the human heart. So, maybe that’s it.

00:06:42 SR: Could you give us a couple of lines from—either from a sonnet or one of the plays . . .

SP: [Laughs.]

SR: . . . that gives us an example of the rhythm?

00:06:53 SP: Yes. This is—of course I don’t know the numbers of the sonnets but I—but I know a number of sonnets—that I was just thinking about today because of—of a friend of mine and a discussion that we had over the weekend.


00:07:10 When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing myself . . .

Oh, I forget this middle part now. I’m forgetting it.

00:07:28 . . . like him with friends possessed,


00:07:32 But in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

Like to the lark at break of day arising

From . . .

Oh, my gosh. See, I’m supposed to know this.

From—from something-something,

00:07:48 . . . [sullen earth,] sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

Here’s the part:

00:07:51 For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

So, I didn’t do . . .

SR: Say that part again.

SP: I didn’t a very good job on that.

SR: Just say the last part.

00:08:04 For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

00:08:08 There it is. [Speaking in the rhythm] “For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings that then I scorn to change my state with kings.” [Ends speaking in rhythm.] But I’m fascinated by the fact that that’s—that’s the way it’s written but that’s not the way we say it. And there’s something—maybe—maybe there’s something in the space between da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da and ” . . . for thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings . . . .” that—the part that captures; I don’t know. I don’t know.

So, what else?

SR: Well, I’ve got a number of questions, but . . .

SP: Okay.

00:08:55 SR: Let’s go back for a second to Romeo and Juliet.

SP: Yes.

SR: That movie affected a lot of people.

SP: Yes.

SR: Maybe not quite as strong as you but . . . .

SP: Yes, yes.

SR: What was it like for you as a person in your teens, or your early twenties, to assume a given—a lesson in love and romance from four hundred years ago?

00:09:22 SP: Well, for—for one thing, at the time those two actors who played Romeo and Juliet had the same popularity as, like, a few years ago in Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes—played the parts. And so there’s an—there’s that immediate attraction in that—there’s that reason for listening in that it’s compelling for that reason, because of people who are very attractive, extraordinary people, that makes you want to listen to the story.

You know, when I—[aside—yes, it’s okay]—I mean, when I think of the—[aside—go ahead] . . .

00:10:15 [Cell phone chimes.]

00:10:21 SP: No, when I think of the story itself, it—it bothers me in some ways now because of—as an adult and having studied it—that—you know, that they made such stupid decisions. I mean, they meet on a Sunday, they’re dead by Thursday. And everything is so fast that—that you go, whoa! You know, whoa, wait a minute here. You know.

00:10:43 And—but I think at the time I was just so caught up in the beauty of these actors and—and as I think about it now, it wasn’t just the—the words themselves, but it was so beautifully scored that the music of both the words and the orchestration just—it—it was—it really grabbed me.

00:11:23 Honestly, I don’t know that at the time I saw anything in terms of a lesson on love that would have informed me about what love was like. You know, I don’t think I remember having that feeling about it at all.

SR: Then what was your connection to it?

00:11:41 SP: It was the—it was music; it was the music of the language. And the attraction of these stars and the fact that I could understand it, that language like this could be accessible and you know, the poetry of it. It just—it just grabbed a hold of me. So . . . .

00:12:01 SR: But still, I think what I’m hoping you can kind of illuminate for us a little bit is this issue of—because some of the people that we’re speaking to here in this series are people for whom they say, “I can’t go there, that’s too old, I don’t get the language, I can’t understand it, I can’t—there’s no way in for me.” And yet for other people it’s so resonant and so profound that of course we could hear it. So the question is, kind of, I guess, is how is it that somebody . . . .

00:12:443 SP: How some people can listen to it and access it, or somebody who doesn’t feel they can do it. Wait a minute. Go ahead—rephrase your question.

SR: One question is, what’s the difference between those people who get it and those people who reject it . . .

SP: [Laughs.]

SR: . . . which you might understand from teaching so much. I mean, I’m sure that there are some kids who get it and some kids who don’t quite get it.

SP: Yes. Yes.

SR: What’s the difference between them?

00:13:06 SP: I’m going to—I’m going to think about—I’m going to think about a friend of mine who you would definitely put in the “don’t get it” department.

SR: Okay.

00:13:18 SP: Okay. And it makes me laugh that when—the first time that—that Kenneth Branagh’s film of Hamlet was on TV, we watched it together—she was in her house and I was in my house and we were on the phone—watching it together—and she would say, “What did he just say? Wait, you know, I didn’t get—tell me what’s happening.” You know. And this. So I would interpret it for her and—and it glanced off the surface.

00:13:54 I think she felt she wanted to understand Shakespeare because educated people, I guess, understand Shakespeare. But it was just like [sound with mouth]—it just glanced off the surface. And so what struck me about that—and I don’t know that it’s as true for the kids I teach—but, you know, for adults there has to be a will there, a desire: I don’t understand this but I’m willing to wrestle with it; I—I—I want to understand it and therefore I’m going to give it what it needs, from me, to—to understand it.

00:14:34 And so maybe I’m ruining what you’re saying—the premise of your show altogether—because in the sense that what can everyday—how can everyday people connect with this—and maybe I’m saying you can’t unless you give yourself to it, unless you really want to.

00:14:50 And this friend of mine—I don’t think she had any desire to—to study Shakespeare or to really know more about Shakespeare. I don’t—I don’t know that—I don’t know.

00:15:07 On the other hand, I’m thinking about all the people who go to Ashland, too. They go, “Well, I don’t know anything about Shakespeare but I’ll—I’ll go to Ashland.” And usually—and I think about the students I’ve brought to Ashland—it’s the story that grabs them. It’s like, “I get the story.” And once they realize they get the story, then—then they’re already in the door.

00:15:41 And—and I—and I say to kids—when we went—recently when we went to see The Two Gentlemen of Verona, I said don’t try to understand every word or else you’re going to—you’re going to be done before the first scene. If you’re trying to understand every word you’ll get—you’ll just get enmired in it. Step back from it and let the story come to you first.

00:16:10 And that actually is true of some of my early experiences, with Richard II and—and that sort of thing, that I—that something caught my ear. Something caught my ear and I thought, oh, I’m going to go look that up. And—and then a little more and a little more and a little more.

00:16:29 But—so I guess I’m kind of contradicting myself, but to—you know, to go—you have to be willing to open yourself to it. And if you—if you go and—it’s like trying to get to sleep: if you say, “Oh, I’ve really got to get to sleep. I’ve just got to get to sleep.” You know, you—the very thing you need, you are preventing yourself from—from getting the thing that you need.

00:16:53 And it’s the same with Shakespeare. Like, “Oh, I’ve got to understand this. I really have to work hard at it.”

I’m contradicting myself, aren’t I?

SR: [inaudible]

00:17:03 SP: No. No, no. No, I—because I’m thinking about sort of people in a general level approaching Shakespeare and then thinking of geeks like me, who read sonnets and focus on—on a phrase or a metaphor and something and then look it up in my lexicon and try to understand its uses in Shakespeare’s time and that—yeah.

So I don’t think this friend of mine has seen a Shakespeare play since then or had any interest in it. And—but.

00:17:48 SR: But I—well, I agree with you. I remember I had a job interviewing some businessmen—very high-powered businessmen—a few years ago. And I was interviewing a hedge fund manager in New York, who was very well-educated and very wealthy, and his wife was a doctor. And one of them had gone to Yale and the other one had gone to Harvard. And when I mentioned something about Shakespeare during the interview, he said—he said, oh, you know, we just rented Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons. And I said, oh, how did you like it? He said, “Hated it. Didn’t even watch the first scene. Couldn’t get through the first scene.” And I’m like, really? And then he said, “Yes, I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.”

SP: Um-hmm. Yes.

SR: So I said, well, let me give you two hints. He said okay, what. I said, number one, turn on the subtitles.

SP: [Intake of breath.] Yes. Yes, that’s good. Yes, yes.

SR: And that will help. And I said the second thing is read the synopsis.

SP: Right.

SR: I said do you know the story? He said no. So I told him the story real quickly.

SP: Yes.

SR: He said, “Oh, really? That sounds interesting.” So he called me back a week later, he says, “Wow, man, that thing was great.”

SP: Isn’t that interesting. Yes. Yes.

SR: Then he really got into it. And of course those performances are very powerful.

00:19:12 SP: Right. Oh, I thought so, too.

SR: Yes.

SP: I thought so, too.

SR: They were like fabulous. The woman, Lynn Collins, who plays Portia . . .

SP: Portia.

SR: . . . just fabulous, I thought.

SP: Magnificent. Yes.

00:19:24 SR: So, what I’m interested in—and I don’t know how to ask you this question exactly—but it has to do with the—part of what always interests me about Shakespeare has to do with the fact that the language is more beautiful than the language we use.

SP: Yes.

00:19:44 SR: And people sort of think that people four hundred years ago were more primitive. And we’re like we’re sophisticated . . . .

SP: Right. And they weren’t. Right.

00:19:52 SR: And then I’m looking at this language and I’m saying wait a minute, there’s something wrong with that picture.

00:19:56 SP: Right. Or the misconception—people say, “Oh, well, they spoke Middle English. You know, I don’t get Middle English.” Well, you know, it’s not Middle English. But anyway, go ahead.

00:20:06 SR: So, but then the other thing is just like this sense of—of us, now, being inundated by the popular culture, global culture, world culture, media culture: movies, TV, thoughts, music—right?

SP: Yes.

00:20:29 SR: And then still, there’s this voice that keeps punching through all of that.

00:20:34 SP: Isn’t that—yeah. It—it—yeah. I had a thought; it went away. But it demands your respect and it demands—it demands your attention. It—you know, to—I don’t know.

00:20:57 I—I’ve—see, the beauty that you’re talking about makes me think about a metaphor. For example, one that I share with the kids, you know, in Romeo and Juliet, is the east and Juliet is the sun—and—to teach them the concept of metaphor and to say, well, you know, where is the metaphor there?

00:21:25 And they say—they know what a metaphor is so they say Juliet is the sun. I said well, why did he say that? Why didn’t he say that, you know, she’s this sort of luminous light, you know, and warmth and all that thing in the night? All he has to say is those four words: Juliet is the sun. And—and look at what—look at what’s in those four words that’s way beyond any description with a lot of words.

00:22:02 You know, it’s—I say—I tell them, I said that figurative language is like the espresso of cof—of language. So, you know, you think about what is espresso to everyday language? Well, it’s really rich, it’s condensed, it’s strong, you don’t need very much of it to, you know, make the impact. So that’s—that’s what figurative language is. And so isn’t that amazing?

00:22:29 And then to say well, look at how often you do that in your lives, too. They’re always using hyperbole and similes and that sort of thing to describe what’s going on with them. So—so it’s there. I think you just need to call their attention to it.

00:22:48 I think it’s interesting—why do we need metaphor? Why do we need to have meta—a figurative aspect to our language? I saw that on a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, years ago, where Captain Picard is beamed down to a planet, where he doesn’t understand what this character is saying to him because he’s talking in—in the metaphors of his culture. And the only way they can communicate is to try to understand those metaphors. And they do. And—eventually; you know, by the end.

00:23:31 And so you think why—why don’t we have a purely practical language? Why do we need figurative aspect to our language? And if I can get them to think about that [slight laugh] I think that’s really cool.

00:23:48 Part of it was, in that episode of Star Trek—and the same thing today—is that basically Picard realizes that the story that this alien is trying to tell him is basically the story of Gilgamesh. And—and he realizes that and he tells the alien the story of Gilgamesh. And they understand each other. Where they never could before.

00:24:16 So why? Why not just have a purely functional language? Why do we need metaphor? And—my own personal feeling is that life is metaphor. The whole thing is metaphor. For me, that’s the way I—that’s the way I make meaning in my life.

SR: What do you mean?

00:24:36 SP: So in order for me to feel like I can—I’m not going to be very—very eloquent with this. In order for—for me to feel like I can understand something that’s deep or—or which I can’t grasp the meaning of, I have to understand—I have to see it as a metaphor.

00:25:05 And so if somebody says, “Well, don’t you see, it’s like this.” And I kind of technically put similes and metaphors together, in the same thing. So, somebody says, “But really, you know, what the experience is like, it’s like this.” And here’s—over here is something that I’ve experienced. And I go, oh, I get it now. I get it. So I make my meaning from that, of seeing things in relationship to one another.

00:25:36 And I think that’s part of who I think I am. Weird, little thing that I am. I—sometimes I think I’m really, like, crazy or something. [Slightly laughing] you know, because it’s like, you know, who thinks about those things. But—but it’s the way I make my meaning. And I think probably everybody does, to a certain level, but not to the level of awareness that we’re talking about. So.

00:26:05 SR: Well, one of the things that I think about a lot of times, as a person or a person very interested in art, and what art and music does and what it says and why people are drawn to and why the artists do it, is sort of that there two kind of lovers of life and you kind of have your feet one in each place.

SP: Yes.

00:26:36 SR: One in the real world—the day-to-world world and the world of commerce and stuff . . .

SP: Um-hmm. Right.

00:26:42 SR: And then the other one is the world of ideas and thoughts and feelings and passion and memories and art.

SP: Right. Right.

SR: And it’s all there—right?

SP: Right.

00:26:53 SR: And that it’s the job of the artist to describe that world for us.

SP: Right.

00:27:02 SR: And to let us into it, which is why we wouldn’t want to have a language that’s purely functional. It would keep us only on the other side and we would have a bunch of, like, robots.

SP: Right. Right.

SR: Right, or a bunch of people in an Ayn Rand book or something.

00:27:19 SP: Right, right. But—you know, it’s funny—I’m thinking, but is it the artist’s responsibility? Isn’t it may—perhaps—the artist’s responsibility to put it in front of us and we—and we make the meaning of it. We—we have to make meaning of it for ourselves. So not everybody is going to listen to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and say, “Wow! You know I—that made a deep impression on me. I want to have—find some meaning in this for my life.”

00:28:04 Again—this is where I’m a real geek—where as I might listen to some nicer piece of music and go—and it just—I absorb it and—and somehow I have to—I want to find the meaning in it. So I’ll go back and I’ll listen to it and I’ll listen to phrases and let them in.

00:28:25 And it’s like what I said about what I do with these kids with Shakespeare. Okay, here’s the language and what I—what I feel like I do is I lead them to the door and I give them a way in. So—so if I teach them to understand the intricacies of the language and say ah, this is a metaphor, this is a simile. Oh, look, a hyperbole here; isn’t that great? Or look at the way he puts these two thoughts together.

00:29:02 If I give them ways to see it and—and I just—just leave them there—they—it’s not my responsibility to push them through the door; I just sort of put them at the door and then give them the way in. And—and some will—some will enter in and some won’t. Or will just stand at the door and watch the other people go in.

00:29:30 And—and I think that’s why—I think that’s why it works so well to do this with sixth graders is because they’re pretty fearless. They go, “Sure, I’ll do it. Yeah, okay.” Give me the bungee cord, you know, sure. I’ll jump off this.

SR: Now why is that? Why are sixth graders good at that?

00:29:51 SP: Well, I think—hmm—like in some way they’re—okay, just a couple of thoughts came. One is that they still like to play at that age. And I try to get them to transfer the meaning of play, like playing baseball in a field, to play, like being a player on a stage. And so they still like to play.

00:30:21 And they’re at that point in their lives where they’re willing to venture out. They need to know you’re there but they go, “Okay, all right. I’ll do this. I’m going to check to see if you’re here behind me, but I’ll do this.” And—and they’ll step out.

00:30:40 Not too much further down the line, and they’re so aware—they’re so—become so much self-conscious and they—they open up a social life that in—that in some ways inhibits them more. You see? It’s sort of a—they—they open up into a social life and—but then their sense of what they can do and can’t do kind of closes up because it all is in relationship to that social life.

SR: So one thing I didn’t—we haven’t said on the tape yet is that you—we’re talking about a program that you have been running for a number of years called Shake Hands With Shakespeare. How long ago did you come up with this and do you do it every year?

00:31:25 SP: Yes. The—actually come up with it, in its—in its iteration here at University Prep, early ’90s. It was maybe ’92 or ’93. And I got the idea from—actually, there’s a book called Shake Hands With Shakespeare that I used when I was teaching in public school, where you could do Shakespeare with the kids. And it—the thing that I didn’t bother—it didn’t bother me about it, but that the author of that book pretty much paraphrased the language—the original language of the plays.

00:32:10 And so when I decided that I wanted to start doing Shakespeare with kids that one is I—I really wanted them to have a broad exposure to a lot of different types of plays—of Shakespeare’s plays. But secondly I decided I wasn’t going to—I don’t want to say dumb down the language, but I was not going to use anything other than Shakespeare’s words. So I—I edited—I edit—the scenes for length, sometimes appropriateness for that—for the age group. Some things are not exactly appropriate. And—and they have the lang—and then give them the language. And so . . . .

00:33:01 And it just started out like a little thing I did in my classroom. You know, okay, we’re going to put on our scenes and it was very—it was just basically like a little project that we did. And I honestly don’t know—I don’t know—where we got the idea to start putting it on a stage. But it was like one of those, “Hey, let’s put on a show,” kind of thing. And we rented a stage and—and the idea was basically to do it for ourselves and for a few family members and that kind of thing.

00:33:35 But it’s just grown so much over the years that it really is—many of the sixth graders would say—the highlight of their sixth grade year. And they’re astounded that they can do it. But they can and they do it beautifully. So . . . .

SR: Okay, so a lot of grown-ups are going to think like, well, wait a minute. I can’t get this language, how can a sixth grader do it in the original language.

00:34:07 SP: Well, remember what I said about you have to commit yourself to it? Well, they commit themselves to it because I make them commit themselves to it, so—so it’s—it’s very important to me that before they go out on the stage they know exactly—[aside] my glasses are dirty, is that going to show up in your film?

SR: I don’t know.

00:34:30 SP: That they know exactly what they’re saying. And so they have to—they have to look up words they don’t know and they have to do that with—with Shakespearean dictionary—Shakespeare lexicon—so that they might—they learn what a word meant in Shakespeare’s time, which might be different than—than what we do.

00:34:51 We—we hunt down the figures of speech, the—the—the figurative aspects of the language, the things that Shakespeare would not have wanted anybody to take literally. We talk about it and then the—one of the most important rehearsals we do is I—I ask them to say back to me what—in their own words—what it was that they are saying—what they just said. So they have to be able to paraphrase—paraphrase for me accurately what it was they just said.

00:35:29 So I do engage them with the language. They can’t glance off the language; they have to—they have to go into it. And—be—obviously be willing to go into it. Of course, there’s this grade hanging over their head for me, but again, they—they say, “Okay. I’ll give it a try. Yeah, I’ll do it.”

00:35:53 And—yes, it’s—it’s pretty miraculous, I think.

SR: Are there any examples that come to your mind of lines that you’ve worked with with kids where they first didn’t get it and then they—then it opened up to them?

00:36:10 SP: [Slight laugh.] Yes. And—yes. And I—you know, I—I should—we should put the thing on pause and I should go out and get my Shakespeare book so I make sure I get the line correctly. Let—let . . .

SR: Okay.

SP: Really? You’d be willing to let me do that?

SR: If you want to, sure.

SP: Well, let me see if—okay, let me see if I can get it. It’s the line—it’s the line from Hamlet where he says:

[Act V, Scene II]

00:36:30 If it be not now, yet it will come.

If it be not to come, it will be now.

If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.

I think I got that right. I think I got it right.

00:36:45 And so—and so I—I remember working with a student on that once and we had to start with what’s the “it” we’re talking about here. Okay, what’s the it he’s—he’s talking about? Part of the—part of the challenge of what I do is that they just do scenes. So—but they have to understand the whole play but certainly not to the—to the extent if you read the whole—if you had read the whole thing. They just need to know the story of the whole play and how their scene fits into the play.

00:37:18 So I said to this—to the student—we were saying and I said well, what do you think “it” is. Didn’t have any idea. I said well, let’s go back—and we had talked a little bit about “to be or not to be” and I said what’s Hamlet struggling with. Well, okay, should I live—should I live or should I choose to end my life? Do I want to live, do I not want to live? So he’s struggling—he’s struggling with his very existence. And now here he is facing a fencing duel—he doesn’t know how it will come out. And—and so—so what he’s saying to his friend is if it be not now—if it be not now then it—yet it will come—he’s talking about what?

00:38:18 And the—by the time we sort of got to the fact—we had to, you know, walk around a little bit that he was talking about death. Now I said, okay, now that you know that, go back and say the line again with that knowledge. And it’s the—it’s the moment the teacher lives for. It’s like, “[intake of breath] I get it. I get it.”

00:28:41 And it’s—it’s like these little miracles that happen where—where you say—he said okay, I get it. So if I don’t die now, I know I’m going to die sometime in the future. But if I don’t die in the future and I die now, well, I’m going to die anyway. The most important thing is—readiness. Well what’s that mean? I should be ready for it. Oh, I get it. I get it.

00:39:10 And it’s—it’s a miraculous moment to see the little brain working, you know. The wheels turning and that sort of thing. They have to be willing to be led in, though.

00:39:29 You know, there was that young man in the Hamlet group that you observed for the first couple of rehearsals. The one—the young man that played Claudius. He gave nothing to it. Nothing. Kids around him they all learned their lines and they want to get up and they, you know, do the duel and all this sort of thing. And he gave—he—he didn’t know his lines, he gave no indication that he was interested in it at all.

00:40:02 And then when he did learn his lines he just, [speaks in a monotone] “Oh, forgive me friends. I am but heard.” [stops speaking in monotone] You know, that—that sort of thing. And what made that happen was two things. [Slight laugh.] A call home to the parents—[slight laugh]—who are very supportive of this kind of thing. But the other thing was—I have this little maxim that I give them in their groups. I said your job is to make each other look good. All right.

00:40:31 So that doesn’t just apply to this student who is responsible for doing his part to make you all look good, but also you have to focus in on him and help him to know that your—you—your intent is to make him look good. So rather than judging him or going, “You know, come on, get with it,” and you know, putting him down, how can we make him look good.

00:41:01 And—and there was this thing that happened, that because of the alchemy of the group, that brought him out into it. And they—then he saw how much fun they were having and he decided he would have some fun.

00:41:14 And [slight laugh] the great—the great triumph of that young man—he—he did it so beautifully when you consider where he came from—to where he ended up in the performance. But to me, one of the—one of the best moments for him was like I was watching him offstage and after Hamlet makes him drink the poison and he—he falled [sic] back—he fell back on his throne and this crown he was wearing just came [makes sound of falling]. It just came right down over his face like that. And everybody kind of started laughing.

00:41:52 And what he did was just move his head in a way that made it look like that was exactly what was supposed to happen. Because I said if something like that happens, work within the character to figure out how to make it work rather than—can I use his name? I’m just going—I don’t know if that’s okay—but to say—you know, rather than Noah saying, uh-oh, you know, what am I going to do to fix this; I better push my crown back,” but no, how is Claudius going to fix this. Of course, he’s dying, but you know. And to think like Claudius rather than like Noah. And he did it. That was his little triumph. So . . .

00:42:36 SR: Now we had a—there was one conversation that I sat in when you were talking to two students playing Romeo and Juliet, and I was really interested because you were speaking to two eleven-year-olds . . .

SP: Yes.

00:42:50 SR: . . . playing the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet and you were trying to get them—if I recall this right—into the space of what it’s like to really be in love.

SP: Um-hmm. Yes.

SR: And you were asking them about that.

SP: Yes. [Laughs.]

00:42:10 SR: Now, how does that work with kids who may not have had those kind of feelings?

00:43:17 SP: Well, I have to tell you, that was not a success. That casting was not a success. And in that situation . . . .

SR: Because what?

00:43:30 SP: One half of the team was willing to work and the other one absolutely just couldn’t—couldn’t give. Couldn’t give. And I don’t always do that scene. And that’s—and what you’re alluding to is the reason why, because they can’t always—two reasons—one is they can’t always see into the depth of it because they have no experience with it. The other is that kids give them a really bad time. Eleven-year-olds like to say, oh, so-and-so really loves so-and-so and that sort of thing and so where you—when you cast them as—as two kids madly in love with each other, they have to be strong enough in who they are to withstand that kind of teasing.

Well, in that case one of them was but the other one wasn’t and . . .

SR: One of them was—wasn’t what?

00:44:25 SP: You know, sort of able to withstand the teasing. And I think that . . .

SR: Oh, so there was a lot of teasing?

00:44:32 SP: Well, yes. They—they—yeah. There was. And to step over into that area where you really expose—you really expose your underbelly, like they both do in that moment, that’s—that’s a very difficult thing for kids that age to do.

00:45:02 So usually I won’t do that scene unless I know I have two kids who will let me draw them into that level of emotion. And those—that two was particularly successful. But I’ve—I think I’ve maybe done it four or five times in the past and I have to have just the right kids and they have done an extraordinary job. Really, when I think about the times that I’ve had tears, through all the years of watching—watching these performances, it’s been when we’ve done Romeo and Juliet and the kids have gotten it; they’ve opened themselves up to getting it.

00:45:47 Well, how is—how is understanding the love relationship there any different—not understanding the love situation; like you were saying, eleven-year-olds playing people in love—any different than not understanding what Hamlet’s going through because his uncle killed his father and married his mother. Or—or Lear being abused by his daughters. So each of those—really, how do you get them to access what’s inside the character when they’ve only had this much experience in life?

00:46:30 And that’s when you say we can only really take it so far. And you say give as much as you can give and that’s fine. And it makes me completely happy and satisfied to know, or to hear, this young man with—with a—you know, droopy tights and you know, his—his mother’s vest or overshirt or something like that and his dad’s belt, speaking these extraordinary words.

00:47:07 I guess what I kind of came around to here in this conversation is that if they get it, great; if they don’t get it, that’s okay. Because I think it makes an impression on them that—that—you know, may not surface—may not ever surface again in their lives. Or it may surface two or three or five years down the way. It just gives me a great deal of pleasure to hear them doing this, and—and to see that they’re willing to do it.

00:47:42 So, no, that was an entirely successful—was not an entirely successful Romeo and Juliet. But I do know that each of those kids gave everything they had.

00:47:53 SR: Now tell me about the other group, where you had a young lady cast as Hamlet.

SP: Oh. Oh, yes. That—yes, we had—in that . . .

00:48:12 SR: No, no, no. I’m sorry. No, I meant Macbeth.

SP: Oh, in Macbeth. [Slight laugh.]

SR: Yes. With Sasha as Macbeth.

00:18 SP: Yes, Sasha as Macbeth.

00:48:20 Well, in that group there was only the one boy and then we had this kind of gaggle of girls that are all really good friends and just made up their minds that this was going to be the coolest thing they had ever done. And—and it was—it was interesting at times to try to rein in that sixth-grade-girl enthusiasm into looking at the motivation of the character here and—and what was really going on with him.

00:48:52 They wanted Macbeth to come in in sweeping robes and crown and, you know, all this sort of stuff. And I remember just saying—saying to them he would not have wanted anybody to know that he was going to see three witches. What if Obama went to see a psychic? Do you think he would go down the street in his motorcade and, you know—and, you know, all the big hoopla and stuff. He needed to be as secretive as—as possible. So get inside that—get inside that audacity, that fear, that anxiety—you know, all those things. And yet it’s all—all shrouded.

00:49:47 And—and—and Sasha was willing to go there. And she’s—she’s a young lady who is very much into friends and that sort of thing but she also will—will go through the door. You know, you take them to the door. She goes, “Okay, I’ll go through the door.” You know. And is willing to go down to—to the deeper aspects of it. You know, so—and I thought she did fine and I never had a problem thinking of her as a girl playing Macbeth.

00:50:25 And it’s only been recently, by the way, that—that I’ve boys who have been willing to play girl’s parts, who have wanted to play girl’s parts, and not do them clownish, dragish kinds of things. You know, the last couple of years I’ve had the—a boy playing Gertrude in Hamlet and then a couple of years ago a young man who played a woman’s role in the Comedy of Errors. And—and I said you can’t do this like a clown. And he said oh, no. You know, he said I—give me the dress and I’ll do it. And so I’ve had . . . .

SR: How do they get away with that without getting ribbed?

00:51:10 SP: Well, they—let me think. I think—I think my Gertrude this year probably took a little bit of ribbing. Not as serious—it’s not as serious a thing to kids as—as the being in love thing. You know.

SR: If you said it’s only happening recently, does that have to do with something that’s changed in society?

00:51:35 SP: That’s a good point. I—I think probably so. I haven’t thought about that before, but I think probably so. Kids are—well, I was going to say it and then I contradict myself, saying that kids are really more—all open and tolerant of—of lots of different types of people, just sort of being themselves and that sort of thing. But then I’m taking it back so don’t put that on the thing. Because—because sixth graders can be particularly mean to each other about people who don’t fit into a certain mold. So—I don’t—I don’t know why that is.

00:52:15 But I think that Josh this year, who played Gertrude, he’s just a—he knows who he is. You know. He just does. And so they give him a bad time he just goes, well, you know, who cares. And this is what I want to do. So . . . .

SR: So what do the kids learn overall?

00:52:50 SP: [Slight laugh.] I’m trying to think. You know, so many things go through my mind. I have them write, you know, what is it that you’ll always—what is it you’ll always remember about—about Shake Hands. And—and some of them say, “I learned that I could do it, that I could overcome stage fright; that I thought I would be, you know, sick to the point of not being able to do it, and I did it. I did it.”

00:53:29 I’ve—it’s kids who write, “That I’ll never forget . . . “—well, we had—the—the scene from Midsummer Night’s Dream, I don’t know if you heard or if we talked about it, but the first night it just went—it just went crazy—it just went terribly wrong, which was perfect. The wall fell apart, the—the wig fell off, all that sort of thing; none of that was planned. But—[slightly laughingly] so the kids say—the kids say, “Well I’ll never forget when Thomas’ wall fell apart and how hard we laughed.” And—and then, to take it a step further and to say, “And to think they did this four hundred years ago. And it probably was just as funny. And—and that—that we—we’re the same as they were: we laugh at the same things.”

00:54:25 And—so sometimes they’ll say I’ll remember so-and-so’s performance and—mostly, a lot of it is they say that I could—that I could even do this. That I could even do this, when I thought I would never be able to do this.

00:54:44 And—and I hope they learned that Shakespeare is an accessible thing. You know, it’s like what you’re saying. You know, what you want to accomplish with this thing. Shakespeare is accessible.

SR: What about language? What kind of insights do they get into language?

00:55:02 SP: Well, we did—as I said, you know, I—I want them to learn that language is a powerful, powerful tool, and so—so looking at again—and understanding the figurative aspect of language and the power that it has, not only to communicate but to—to bring you to a level of emotion that—that you might not have thought you could get to. It’s a powerful thing.

00:55:36 SR: But in a way isn’t there something of level, we were talking about before? I mean, that was kind of one of the things that I saw, as an observer, was—well, there were two things that I observed, in general, other than a lot of specific and wonderful moments and . . .

SP: Yes.

00:55:57 SR: . . . sort of extraordinary details. But the two overall things that I saw were, number one, if you think of that sort of model of there being kind of two realms that we all have to kind of straddle . . .

SP: Right.

00:56:17 SR: . . . of the practical and the [inaudible] and have to call in the artistic or the romantic or however you kind of want to define it. It seems to me that it’s sort of about that age, where kids—well, first, they start in a kind of fantasy world, in a land where anything’s possible.

SP: Right. Right.

00:56:39 SR: Then they come to where they are being made to be more and more practical.

SP: Right.

00:56:42 SR: And that also will at that time is when they’re beginning to be able to appreciate art.

SP: Right.

00:56:50 SR: And to be able to say oh, you know, there are these people in the world; these special people—whether it’s Mozart or Shakespeare or even, you know, popular culture musicians—you know, country music, rock stars, or whatever—who have a way of kind of condensing all this stuff and then you have the espresso.

SP: Right. The espresso, right.

SR: Right?

SP: Yes.

00:57:15 SR: So, what I was seeing was, like, kids getting that experience, like, oh, this—there is this way to kind of articulate that and to talk about.

00:57:32 And the other thing that I was noticing was—how can I explain it? One of the things that always bothers me about education and about school is that it kind of compartmentalizes everything. And then you get tested on this, tested on this, tested on this.

SP: Right. Right.

SR: And, you know, to some degree there’s no other way to do it.

SP: Right.

00:00:57 SR: But what I saw was like this holistic experience of kids who were dealing with language, with movement, with costumes, with getting up with being who they were, of trying to overcome fears of memorization, and then this whole socializing.

SP: Right.

00:58:18 SR: So, to me it was sort of like, well, wait a minute. This is sort of amazing, like how much learning is taking place all at once . . .

SP: Right.

00:58:29 SR: . . . as opposed to taking a test and memorizing a sonnet.

00:58:30 SP: Right. Well, when—when you look at the whole project, you know—what?—ten years ago or fifteen years ago—sorry, John Gardner, I can’t remember how long ago it was—the idea of multiple intelligences was presented. You know, that there are more than two ways of learning things. You know, not just mathematical and linguistic but there—visual, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical. I think that covers it all. Seven intelligences, the way he set it up—Gardner sets it up.

00:59:15 And without really trying—and I honestly kind of just walked into this—all seven. All seven. And in a way, no one more than any other. I mean, they—they’ve—they really have to go the gamut of—of every one of these types of entrances into understanding. They’ve got to get up and move. They’ve got to read it and—and understand it. They have to do personal reflection on it. They have to work together. You know, so it’s—so it’s all there. And as—as I said before, you know, for me it’s a musical thing, too. It’s very musical.

00:59:56 But then recently there’s been writing on the domain of emotion intelligence. And—and the—when I picture this—when I picture this whole project—I see all these—these smaller elements—kinesthetic, visual, and so on—enveloped by a context of emotional intelligence, of an emotional experience. And—and it comes from so many places. It comes from having that profound fear of going out on a stage and acting and worrying that you’re going to fall on your face, and then you find out that you don’t. You know. And that—that exhilaration that comes from that.

01:00:47 And also—and also just the fact that there’s something about the chemistry of the whole class working together on this project that ignites almost the emotional part of it. Because—because—I think I told you the story about when I did the NEH [National Endowment for the Humanities] Shakespeare Institute a few years ago and we were all involved in putting on scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and that the first play that we did was Much Ado About Nothing.

01:01:26 And we all—there—we all—there were twenty-five of us and we all were cast in these different scenes and so the night we performed it was so exciting. We got in the little theater and each group got up and—and presented their scene and we were so happy. But when the whole thing was over there was this element of excitement that I never would have anticipated. And then it occurred to me that whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

01:01:58 So that—so that all of this takes place in this context of yes, there’s—there’s energy and emotion coming from all of these things but then you put it all together and it just—it—it doesn’t explode, it just—it just opens up this emotion in kids. And—and I think anything that we teach in that context—in a context of emotion and in a context of something that you feel—that you really feel—is—you remember. Is something that you remember.

01:02:34 And so that’s the part I—that’s really astounding, to me. Because it’s such a—it’s such a delicate time for kids and in terms of their own growth; emotionally, physically, all those things. And—and yet here’s this sort of miraculous little program that—that happens. And I can call it that in a humble kind of way because all I ever did was sort of say, “Hey, kids, let’s do this.” You know, and it kind of developed into this other thing that really helps them to reach a level of emotional understanding about themselves and about other people. And then when it’s over they go back to name-calling and teasing and you know, all that sort of stuff. But for that—for that moment—for those five weeks they’re—they’re in awe. And I’m in awe, of what they do.

01:03:35 SR: Hold on one second.

SP: Yes. Oh, what time is it?

SR: It’s five.

01:03:46 SP: Oh, five o’clock. Yes, I probably have a little more time. A little more time.

SR: Okay. [inaudible]

SP: Oh, okay. Well, then let’s—we can do it . . .

SR: [inaudible]

SP: We can do it—well, we can . . .

01:03:54 SR: I just have a couple of more questions.

SP: Okay.

[Telephone conversation.]

END Part 1

BEGIN Part 2 [00:15.03]

SR: Wait a minute. Let me [inaudible].

SP: Okay. Muriel. Yes, and let’s go. Yes.

00:00:04 SR: So we were just talking about the extraordinary amount of learning and learning on these different planes sort of simultaneously.

SP: Yes.

00:00:13 SR: Which is something that I deal with and saw in a very real way and could tell that it was happening, on some levels for every student that was involved.

SP: Yes.

00:00:25 SR: Even the ones who maybe were not expansive . . .

SP: Yes.

SR: . . . they had to be . . . .

00:00:32 SP: That’s the word I was looking for: expansive. Good word. Yes, okay. The emotion is expansive. Okay.

SR: You mentioned something to me one day which really blew my mind, which was that you are under some criticism for this. I mean, that there were some people who didn’t believe in it.

00:00:49 SP: Well, here’s the thing. We’re not—as a private school, we’re not subject to state standards. You know, where we—everything we do has to match state standards for kids at certain ages. We—we are in the process of—of moving to formative assessment, which is—you know, how—tell me what you know, how far—you know, with certain benchmarks. So certain standards. You know, how are you coming along on those things rather than saying how did you do on this assignment or this assignment or this assignment. We’re looking at an overall progression of skills and writing expression and that sort of thing.

00:01:43 This is very hard to quantify. This experience. It almost defies being able to quantify it in some way. I—I—when I was working on objectives for this quarter and looking, well, what kind of objectives can I pull in to say okay, you know, the—the student achieved this skill or that skill or that skill. It’s like what am I going to—what am I going to write? [Slight laugh.] I don’t know what I’m going to write.

00:02:18 And I found myself kind of making stuff up because I just don’t know how you quantify this stuff. I don’t know how you quantify what the kids learn in this. And that we’re—we have anything in a system that could do that.

00:02:37 Because I—I’ve always told the kids it’s never—it’s not at all about the performance, it’s your—what you do throughout the process to get you to that point. And—and what you bring to it. And I can’t say that it’s—it’s goal 3.1 or that sort of thing.

00:02:58 So—so I think the particular criticism—I’m hedging out a little bit because I’m trying to imagine this on the radio and in hearing somebody criticize, you know, the school, because I love this school. But that—that there wasn’t enough writing, that they—they weren’t doing enough assignments to justify setting aside five weeks to do this.

00:03:30 And within—within the course of that week, they write—there are some benchmark assignments where they have to paraphrase, where they have to define words and that sort of thing but it’s certainly not like write me an essay every week on—on whatever. You know, so part of it is—part of it is I can’t do that. Because—because working throughout those five weeks—twelve, fourteen hours a day on everything that’s involved in this—I don’t want to go home and read papers and assignments. You know.

00:04:10 And—and yet I wanted to say to this particular person who had asked me about this, “Do you have any idea what they’re learning here?” I—can you get—and she was new to the school so I don’t know that she really had a sense of it—but—but no, I don’t give fourteen assignments and I don’t—I can’t give you ten state standards that this—that this meets. But it—[slight laugh]—I can’t—this is the most extraordinary learning that I’ve ever looked at, I’ve ever seen in my years of teaching.

But, you know, I can’t—I can’t fit it into that—that—that little hole there. You know, so I—I don’t know what to say about that.

00:05:04 I—but on the other hand, I don’t think as long as I’m here that it will ever go away because to—to tell the truth, the admission director has said to me that—and parents have said to me, too—when new parents—new families coming to University Prep—that they’re not sure whether they want to go to this school or this school and they’re trying to decide and that that—this experience, knowing that the kids will have this experience, tipped it toward University Prep. Or put their kids here because they wanted them to have this experience. That’s powerful stuff.

SR: Could you say that general idea again but say the words Shake Hands With Shakespeare?

SP: Okay. Okay, let me think.

00:05:54 So, going back to the point about—I mean, yes, it’s not exactly fitting these expectations of—of formative assessment, but on the other hand I think as long as I am here there will always be a Shake Hands With Shakespeare because I hear from parents all the time that—that they are trying to decide between two schools—where to—where to send their child—they send them here because they want their—their child to have this experience of this little Shake Hands With Shakespeare program. And—and—and it’s extraordinary how many parents say that to me. Very flattering, but I—I’m just blown away by that.

00:06:42 And—and I think it’s become such an important part of our whole school that I don’t think anybody—I’m not going to hold anybody hostage here. Sometimes I think, you know—like these athletes, you know, I should say—okay, well unless I get this I’m going to—I’m not going to do it anymore. You know. But no, I—I—it’s just a part of our fabric now. So . . .

SR: Okay, so I want to—we’re sort of out of time . . .

SP: Okay.

00:07:15 SR: . . . so just one more question, which might open up to [inaudible] we’ve got to spend an hour talking about.

SP: Yes, okay.

SR: Because there are actually a lot of things. You are very articulate and there are a lot of things that I’m learning from you, but I’m curious about what advice you have for young teachers who want to figure out how to teach Shakespeare.

00:07:33 SP: [Slight laugh.] Okay, let me think. Yeah, we—I may need to come back on that. I—I think the main thing is—the first thing that comes to my mind is—is—is not to be afraid of it and—and to not start from the place of thinking that—that eleven-year-olds can’t handle it, because they can. They—they can. They can understand much more than—than we would give them credit for. And—and so—so don’t be afraid of it and—and really believe that—that kids can do this.

00:08:16 And I—and I—I set that high expectation for my—the students. I say you may not think you can do this but I know you can because I’ve seen it. So, we’re going to start with that assumption, that you’re going to be able to do this and you’re going to do it with great understanding and—and great skill and we’re going to have fun. That’s the other part of it: we’re going to have fun.

00:08:39 There’s lots of particular details that I think make this program work, that make Shake Hands With Shakespeare work, and a lot of it has to do with involving parents and it really makes it a whole—whole-grade activity that—that I think really launches it. But—plus I think we owe it to kids to do this.

00:09:07 I used an example once—seeing as how we were talking about metaphors—that it’s like taking animals that naturally swim—like little duckling, sort of thing—and throwing him in the water. They know what to do. They know what to do when they get in there. And if they don’t, they’ll flap around until they do figure out what to do. And so, this is their language. This is their language. So, in they go.

SR: What do you mean this is their language?

00:09:45 SP: The language of Shakespeare is their language. Shakespeare—this is the English language. And it’s just a matter of—of giving them ways to get into it, and I think also having fun. You know. You know my little thing: Shakespeare was a playwright who wrote plays that were performed by players in playhouses. You know, let’s play; we’re going to play. And they have a good time with it.

00:10:20 And true, I’m—let’s get this point very clear—there are some of them that just love the idea of not sitting in a desk for five weeks. Whoo! We don’t have to go to class! And we go back to—after this is all over and they go, oh, okay, we’re back. We’re back. You know [slight laugh]. But anyway, that’s where it is.

SR: That must also be where some of the criticism might stem from, they say you guys are having too much fun.

SP: Yes, how could you do this all the time? We would have to start another school.

00:10:50 Really, you know there are people out there, you know, whose philosophy of education is you go out and build houses and that’s how you teach math and that’s how you, you know, teach these things. And so it’s—it’s a—it’s a pretty extraordinary out-of-the-classroom experience. And, you know, it’s just got to be a balance.

00:11:08 In fact, I’m trying to teach myself to bring the—the successful aspects of Shake Hands to—to my other lessons, to my other units that I plan. Okay, how can I incorporate these successful things into what—what works so well with Shake Hands. So . . . .

I didn’t get to talk about the portraits, because to me that’s a very important part of the process.

SR: Okay, tell me about it.

00:11:42 Portrait day to me is—is like a miracle day. Because up to that point we’ve got just little—little pieces and little pieces and words and phrases and blocking that’s not coming together. And then all of a sudden—and it’s a week before the performance that we do the photos—on purpose—all of a sudden, whoost, it all comes into focus. Sit there and show me how Hamlet would want to be photographed, show me in your body.

00:12:15 And yes, they’ve got little pinned-together costumes on and stuff like that but that’s not the important thing. It’s what’s in their face and in their body. And that’s the moment when the character gets set—to me—settles in—in the student and—and I—it’s such a critical point. I can’t imagine not doing it.

00:12:40 At first we did it just to have pictures of the kids and then I saw what was happening. It’s like now I am this character. And it’s amazing. So that’s an extraordinary part of it, too.

00:12:55 And to those new teachers, though, you really have to pull together a team of people—really getting people involved at all levels. I think that’s an important part of it.

00:13:05 And a professional photographer—Wild Louie—hasn’t always been doing these pictures. We just started—he just started taking them when his daughter came here. But I’ve had parents take the pictures in the past, so it doesn’t have to be—you know. But those are pretty cool, aren’t they? Those posters?

SR: They are stunning.

SP: Stunning. Yes.

SR: They are so incredible.

SP: Yes, yes. Okay. Well, if you think anything else, I’m . . . .

SR: Okay.

00:13:32 SP: I hope you get a little bit off of there that—that you can work with.

00:13:36 SR: There was one thing I was going to ask you about—about the portraits.

00:13:43 SP: They have to write down their favorite line?

SR: Have you had students leave here, after high school, and go into theater or acting or writing and then be able to tie it back in some way to that experience?

00:14:03 SP: Well, I—I can’t think of anybody specifically. I—I need to think about that for a little bit. Usually what happens is that if they experience some success with this, then they start taking middle-school drama and being in plays and then they’re in upper-school drama. And I can of a couple of students who—who found great success in Shake Hands—that’s—by the way, that’s what we call it. It’s so funny: Shake Hands. Shake Hands. Kids will go, “Oh, is Shake Hands coming up? Is it time for Shake Hands already?” It makes me laugh.

00:14:42 Anyway, who—who continue to do performances here that were absolutely stunning. Absolutely stunning. And our drama teachers come to the performances and scout. You know, so. But I’ll—let me think if there’s anybody—I think there might be a couple.

Okay, go.

END Part 2