Six weeks ago, one of my school administrators asked if I would write a script for our fourth and fifth grade end of the year play. We had purchased a script from a children’s theater company, but we weren’t very happy with the product, and there wasn’t time before the performance to try to order another one. It was Spring Break, and I was feeling intoxicated with all my free time, so I accepted the offer.
I chose the topic of Texas history, because it was a unit that was on my scope and sequence for the year, but one that I knew I’d run out of time to cover thoroughly. Unfortunately, Texas history is not an area of my expertise, and so the first two weeks of my writing project were devoted to research as I narrowed down my possible topics and then learned as much as I could about the seven events and figures I’d chosen.
The next week and a half were full of frantic writing as the script took shape. As had been the case since I began the project, my free time was spent at the computer, including most of the daylight hours of my weekends. Lesson plans, grading papers, all of my other normal responsibilities were an afterthought (and forget about cooking dinner or cleaning house, where my uncomplaining husband graciously picked up the slack). Finally, the Thursday before we released for Easter break, I passed out final scripts to my eager students. It was three weeks from our scheduled performance date.
The past weeks have been filled with frantic rehearsal, as the fifth grade teacher, Jennifer, and I devoted all of our expendable class time to the play. All of our twenty-five students had to memorize lines and deliver them convincingly, in addition to learning six new songs for the final production.
I’ve fretted over details of stage blocking, decorations, costumes, props, and transition times, and I spent more hours than was necessary on a program. I thought through details of the script to distract me from ab crunches in my aerobics class. I have had Texas-themed songs stuck in my head for weeks, and have dreamed about Sam Houston and the Alamo since Easter.
We did two shows this past Thursday: one at two o’clock for the rest of the school, and one at seven for parents and grandparents. Both performances were fantastic, and I could not be prouder of my students, who worked hard, did a great job, and do not seem to harbor any lasting resentment for my impatience and stress of the past weeks. I received lots of affirmation for all of my work, which I won’t pretend I didn’t appreciate.
On Friday, as Jen swept down the stage and I picked up wadded-up programs from the floor, I felt a very strange sense of loss. I think it must be like postpartum depression or the letdown some brides feel the day after the wedding is over. There’s so much buildup for one moment, and even when there’s plenty of work left to do afterwards, it’s hard to let go.
I came home almost in tears, put on my sweats, and watched about four hours of television. Tomorrow I’m going to think about the rest of the school year. And if I get to pining away for some fourth grade theater, well, there’s always next year’s play to think about…