A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ford's Theater Day Two

We are back in the hotel after a very busy day. The students have toured Ford's Theater, performed improv near the National Archives and looked at modern art at the National Portrait Gallery. The fellows read our speeches and critiqued fellow fellows speeches as well as analyzed student work. The teaching artists have been working with the kids and so I haven't seen much of them but they seem to be having a good time. I am really excited to hear their speeches on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial tomorrow.

At lunch, Ray Dempsey of British Petroleum spoke to everyone. BP is a supporter of the oratory fellowship and Ray is the VP in charge of legislative affairs in DC. He is a phenomenal speaker and he captivated the kids. He has a great story to tell and tells it well. He and I chatted and found out he graduated from Winfield, Kansas and had lived in Ark City (my hometown). His grandmother still lives there. He said he's in Wichita regularly and so I'm hoping I can get him into TIS for the kids to hear him. He talked about the BP oil spill in 2010 and his role as one of the media people for it during the disaster. Its easy to paint the company as a greedy villain until you hear him speak. Compelling is the best word to describe it.

 The afternoon for the students was a tour of the theater and the Peterson House (where Lincoln died). Fellows spent the afternoon looking at student work we brought. I had expected a show and tell but Sarah and Cynthia offered a different angle on student work. The work was viewed with no explanation. The reviewers could report what they saw but make not judgements about the work. After that, they could ask questions which the presenter compiled but didn't not immediately. When their observations and questions were complete, then the presenter explained the work and answered questions. It was a cool exercises and completely unnerving when it was my turn. Five minutes of silence as they review the work and then six sets of eyes noticing and questioning. I used the kid's analysis of King's I Have a Dream Speech (you can see these in the King's Speech posts 1, 2, 3 and 4.) I like that it relies on the work to speak for itself. In the end, they noticed things I hadn't and asked questions I need to reflect on.

The evening was spent at the theater, Ford's Theater. We saw Hello Dolly and it was excellent. It was something I had wanted to do for a few years now-to see a show at Ford's, and I am so glad we got the opportunity. I've never really warmed up to the show. This production, however, made me a convert. The Irene Malloy was phenomenal. Beautiful voice and great comedic timing. The Horace Vandergelder was a treat to watch--that can be such an unlikeable character and you saw the charm as well as the rough edges. The dancing was amazing--the dance chorus (four men and two women who made up the chorus but were also the companies principal dancers were unnervingly tall. They all had to be 6 foot plus. They towered over a couple of the other actors and had a couple showstopping moments. The real showstopper was the Dolly Levi. Its a role that becomes characture-ish quick and she never was. She commanded the stage. There was a moment between Vandergelder and Dolly in the restaurant which was as good as it gets in the theater. The staging was clean and ingenious in its use of these unmanned baggage carts as the set for the train station, feed store and millinery shop. After the show, Steven, one of the teaching artists and an professional actor who played three roles in the show, gave us a tour of the theater and talked about the assassination. He was a hoot to watch on stage (I would have been curious to see where he would have taken Vandergelder) and so generous to spend an hour after a show to talk with us.

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