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Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Note About Competition, Part 2: My Kids

Welcome to Theater is a Sport.  My name is Bobby Keniston, and it is going to be an abbreviated post tonight.

So tomorrow is the big day, the day we have been working toward for the last eight weeks or so.

Tomorrow, my kids and I head to the one-act play competition sponsored by the Maine's Principal Association, where we will be competing against four four other schools for the opportunity to move on to the State Festival in a couple of weeks. 

In truth, there's not a whole lot more to be done now.  My kids have performed the show twice, we've been working on strengthening it this week, and, come Saturday at 3pm, it is going to be performed for the judges, and they will be the deciding factor in whether we win or not.  Regardless of what happens, my kids have worked hard, and the process has been an educational one, and they've made tremendous strides in understanding a rather difficult play with difficult characters. 

No matter what, of course, I am proud of them.  No matter what, of course, they have no reason to feel like anything but winners.

And yet, I want them to win.  I want our play to win. 

Not because I wrote the play, and feel like it is a good one, more than capable of winning.  It's called Aeroplane Over the Sea, for those interested, and it is published by Brooklyn Publishers.  I will one day write a blog post all about how and why I wrote the play.

And no, I don't want to win out of some pressing feeling of bringing a trophy home to our school, although that would be nice.

And I don't want to win for any kind of self-validation, a pat on the back, proving I do my job well.  I do my job the best that I can, my student actors seem to like me and trust me.  I am lucky in this.  A trophy, while nice, cannot give me a sense of "job well done", especially if I don't feel it in myself already.  The only person who really knows if I've done my job to the best of my ability is me, and I believe I have. 

I want to win for my kids.  My kids deserve to be winners, and that is why I want to win.  No matter what I can possibly say, whenever you compete, no matter how great a sportsperson you are, winning feels so much better than not winning.  I know this because I have been fortunate to win a few things in my life--- maybe not as many as I would like, and certainly my life is not perfect, but I do have memories of being a winner for some events that have mattered to me. 

And I want my kids to have that.

It's funny--- for a guy who has yet to have been blessed with children, I am using the term "my kids" an awful lot.  And, no, I don't suppose I even say it in a paternal way, but merely as a teacher to their students, but that is something.  It is still a position where an authority figure develops a genuine caring for a group of young people's successes and challenges. 

As I said, we have done what we can, and as long as they stand on that stage Saturday and do the best that they can do, then there is nothing more to be done.  And I know they will do their best out there.  Thus, in so many ways, things are out of my hands at this point (especially after our tech time at competition). 

So why can't I relax?

I suppose it is becaue I second guess myself, wonder what more I could have done to prepare these students.  After all, I know what to expect from these competitions.  Have I really done all I could do to prepare them? 

I think so. 

So much depends on the opinions of three people.  Three people.  Three people with thoughts, opinions, and personal tastes that can't be turned off.  It's not like scoring a touchdown or getting a ball through a hoop (which, of course, have their own challenges).  I mean, sure, there are the mechanics of it, vocal projection, memorization, character work, concentration, all of that good stuff, but at the end of the day, honestly, it comes down to what the judges liked better.  It really does.  And I am not putting them down for being impartial--- they are human beings. 

In any case, this will be a valuable experience for my kids (there I go again), and we will get to watch a bunch of theater over a few days, meet some like-minded people, and then just hope for the best. 

I most likely will not have another post for Theater is a Sport until Sunday.  My time is going to be pretty well taken up these next few days, and I won't be at home. 

So, until then, send warm thoughts to me and my students, and remember:  competition can bee good, and theater is a sport.

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