The rest of Hannah’s visit was consumed with school normalness. She taught a few of my classes, observed several others at both the high school and the middle school, and we filled in the non-school-time as much as we were able to despite the exhaustion that comes with a typical week at school.
Happily, I was able to coordinate a drama field trip for the week of Hannah’s visit, so on Wednesday we packed up 18 kids and headed downtown for a day of drama.
We had a pre-show workshop about the Marx brothers and slapstick comedy before going to a school matinee of “Animal Crackers’ (based on the Marx brothers’ movie of the same name). The show was well done and highly entertaining, albeit with a script full of nonsequitors like the original (Why a sudden dream sequence all about a French king seducing his mistress with the help of the three musketeers? Why not?). The students loved it, as you might expect when the show includes jokes like:
Groucho: (to an audience member) Thank you for dressing up. So many people don’t dress up for the theater today. Just the other night, there was a woman sitting in your seat wearing a t-shirt. The t-shirt said “Guess” on it, so I said, “Implants?”
They were quoting Groucho the whole ride home.
I talked the transportation department into giving us the bus for the whole day, so instead of rushing back to school right after the show we stuck around for a Q&A with the actors. My students (and all of those in the audience) were shocked to hear that 98% of the show was not improvised – including an entire scene where one character flubs another character’s name. It happened by mistake in the movie and Groucho Marx just ran with the joke while the cameras were running. They kept that scene verbatim in the play, and the students were astounded that it was scripted and not just a live mistake.
After the Q&A we detoured on our way to lunch to give Hannah a photo op in front of some of Denver’s famous street art:
|“The Dancers” outside of the DPAC
|and “The Big Blue Bear” outside of the convention center
Then up to the 16th Street Mall for a quick bite of lunch before heading back to DCTC for a second workshop. The educational director offered to customize the second workshop to a topic of my choice, so I asked for one about the play the class is working on. “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is a famous enough play that I was certain they’d have no trouble getting one of their “teaching artists” to spend an hour with my students on it. Justin, an actor in residence and a former Disney cast member (which always reminds me of the stories Annie told about her stint there!), spent an hour working with my students on the characters in their play and talked about using Uta Hagen’s exercises to figure out some of the problems Stoppard presents.
It was good trip all around, and I liked giving the students a chance to get to know Hannah outside of the formalities of class. She thought they were just adorable (which they are) and such good kids (which they are), and they decided she was “the British Waterhouse.” She and I came to school for just the first two classes on Friday before she had to catch her flight, and the students presented her with a giant card, a bag full of candy (evidence that they haven’t tasted non-American chocolate because anyone who has tasted the wonder of European chocolate knows better than to offer someone from those lands Snickers and Twix), and a group hug:
This class is big on group hugs.
As we were signing out for the day, I spotted the chance to check off one more photo of Hannah’s list and pulled our current school resource officer out of his office:
Then we headed back to DIA to send Hannah on her way. By the time I dropped her off there was no point in my trying to get back before the end of the school day, but it wasn’t even noon yet. So I hopped back on I-70 and drove to Grand Junction to visit the family for the Easter weekend.
On the way, I spotted two more good American signs that I texted to Hannah, much to her enjoyment. This was printed on the tile in front of the toilet in the restaurant where I stopped for lunch:
and this was posted outside a second rest stop along the way: