Thursday, June 26, 2014

London Calling by Isaiah Bent

Goals for my London adventure stretch beyond eating my body weight in fish and chips.  Broadly, I can say I want to inch closer towards becoming a master educator.  That’s why I’m here right?  Our London Drama and Youth community is stacked with leaders in educational theatre.  We are in very good hands.  For example, I will mention the wonderful Cecily O’Neill, who I had the pleasure of speaking with during the past school year.  She is equally brilliant in her understanding of process drama and dramaturgy.  I am very much looking forward to listening to her and the other great drama and youth practitioners over the course of the next three weeks.

I have grown very fond of process drama and see it as an effective way to teach any subject, even math if you want to get creative about it.  Redcoats and Patriots by our esteemed professor Dr. Philip Taylor shows the possibility of doing this in tough circumstances.  The improvisation exercises fused with subject matter glues the new ideas into the young, impressionable brains of students.  My goal is to eventually facilitate these presentations effortlessly by the time I graduate in the fall.  Process drama is a superbly fun way of enhancing the learning experience for students young and old.
The Oily Cart reading has me chomping at the bit to see it live and in person.    My Mother spent 35 years teaching developmentally disabled infants from 0-3 years of age.  Spending much of my childhood playing with her colorful classroom equipment has me eager to plunge in the Oily Cart world.  Our course readings fueled my wonder about how the masterfully created settings could appeal to all five senses.  It makes me think of the old cartoons where they would present the “smell-o-vision” during a world of tomorrow segment.  I am looking to take some of the ideas from Oily Cart back to California to see if my Mother can use them with her own students. 
This past spring semester at NYU, I made a concerted effort to learn more about process drama.  I created (with my colleagues) two process dramas that had a class of young adults acting like vampires and aliens.  The presentations were successful in a sense that they learned an academic lesson in the atmosphere of a Halloween Party.  A goal in London is to enhance my ability to keep pushing participants in these outrageous directions and how can I reel them in to reflect on their work during the presentation.  Praxis makes perfect.   

I am also one of the co-program assistants.  I would not say I am in charge of the group by any means.  I would say I am someone to give my fellow students answers, even if I do not know them off the top of my head.  I believe the students should spend their time focused on their studies and experiencing the magic of London.  I do not want them burning calories worrying about trivial things like “what bus do I take” or “where is the nearest vegetarian restaurant.”  These burdens should be on me and I am happy to do it because it helps me learn even more about the city. 

Finally, I am amped at the prospect of strengthening my understanding of Shakespeare by seeing both Henrys in the same day as well as viewing Julius Caesar in two separate settings.  I have made sure to read up on the plays before seeing them because I might get lost if I do not.  Two books: Shakespeare for Dummies by John Doyle and Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom are two staples of my Shakespeare pre-show reading.  Dummies helps me figure out the relation of the characters, I get confused about uncles and cousins mostly.   Harold Bloom’s book sheds light on the awesomeness of Shakespeare.  For example, he dubs Falstaff as the Bard’s second greatest creation behind that moody young prince from Denmark.  I knew Falstaff was a special character, but hearing the character dissected at length on why he is important to Hal, the play as a whole, and Shakespeare’s canon enhances my understanding of not only the play, but of humankind.  So, yeah.  I’m pretty excited to go to London!