Home > Conference: November 2009 > WOW (The Play) – Act III of Shifting Thinking

WOW (The Play) – Act III of Shifting Thinking

November 4th, 2009

No liveblogs from me today until now – this was day 2 (Act III) of Shifting Thinking and I think I can unashamedly claim that it was AWESOME! (And we still have another hour and a half to go).

The day began for me at 6.55am with a phone call letting me know that one of my castmembers was unwell and hence I would have to play her role in the secret “surprise” opening to Act III – a short 15-minute play I’d written especially for the Shifting Thinking conference.

(The play, in case anyone is interested, is called “This is school: Or, Changing the Script”)

So picture this.

You are an audience member at the Shifting Thinking Conference. You arrive on time (as instructed) and file into the theatre. Onstage are four people, sitting on chairs, chatting quietly to one another, apparently oblivious to the incoming audience. You chat to the person next to you, until a message appears on the screen behind the stage: “Quiet please”

A hush comes over the crowd. And suddenly, a cellphone is ringing! A woman, in conversation on her phone, walks onstage. She is saying something about a dress rehearsal….. wait a minute! I think a play is about to unfold onstage!!

Changing the Script

Changing the Script

Click here to watch a video of the play!

This was how we began Day 2. Our 15 minute play attempted to encapsulate, with humour, some of the main tensions, challenges, quandaries, and opportunities that have threaded through the entire ST Conference. “Changing the Script” was play within a play. The main character, a director, attempts to stage a nice, simple play about school. Her actors have all come to rehearsal on time, they have their scripts in hand, but little does the director know that at today’ rehearsal, nothing is going to go as she has planned it.

The two actors playing the “teachers”, for example, don’t even seem to have read the script, and immediately they begin to suggest doing things differently (despite the director’s pleas to simply act their parts as they are written in the script).

As for the actors playing the “students”, well one of them has already figure out he’s supposed to be a so-called digital native, and he’s more interested in listening to podcasts than listening to the director. Meanwhile the other student has abandoned all interest in this silly little play – she is far more concerned with what she sees as the impending doom of environmental catastrophe. And to top it all off, people who aren’t even IN the script keep interrupting the rehearsal asking to be written into the play!

The poor director. She doesn’t know who wrote the script, but she is desperate to execute it exactly as it is written. How can she cope with all these questions and these highly uncompliant actors!

If you were at the Shifting Thinking conference, you’ll have seen what happens…

So I’m wondering, did this play make sense to you? Did it make you think?Do you think we ought to write a sequel for the next ST conference? (heheh if we ever dare stage such an ambitious conference again)

Conference: November 2009 , , ,

  1. | #1

    @Sandy Mac
    Yes maybe all the lines that made you guys laugh would provoke a different audience into angry stony silence? :) Hopefully not though. I’ve still not seen the video but looking into ways I could share the script…

  2. Sandy Mac
    | #2

    Yep, the play was a stunner, really illustrated the absurdities of some of the constraints we are currently working under. I want to show it to teachers up here in Auckland, but I’m wondering whether it had the impact it did on me because I can already see some of these things as absurd, and so it was just confirming that in beautiful technicolour amplification? So then what would the reaction be to a dyed in the wool, firmly anchored in the 20th century secondary school teacher? What do people think?

  3. | #3

    I kept hearing ideas from the play resonate in the discussions in the various sessions I popped into during day two. Great script. Just about to lokk at the video and hope to get it up online. cheers, Sarah

  4. | #4

    @Rachel Bolstad
    Cheers Rachel, I would bring in some adlib to suit the environment I work in and simply becoz it’s fun to add one’s own creative touch. If I write a new version, I will send it to you..

  5. | #5

    Thanks Jenny – I’ll get back to you on this! Maybe I can publish the script on this website, with a creative stipulation that if you share the script with others you have to get people to act it out together – (and perhaps even ad-lib your own scenes relevant to your specific context! :)

  6. | #6

    Congratulations on the play. It encapsulated all the questions and thoughts that we have about a 20th century style of teaching:
    Q Did you think this play was set in the 19th century?
    A Er…yes
    Q But WHY can’t we teach together
    A English is English and Science is Science

    And WHY we need to change
    Q Why are there only two students?
    A We only need the GOOD students. We will paint the rest in

    Is there a way to get a copy of this- or, Shakespeare-like, should I just reconstruct this to the best of my memory? I would like to show it at a Team Solutions (Auckland Advisory) team day.

    Cheers, Jenny P

  7. | #7

    I was talking to one of the learning coaches today and he said (and lots of others agreed) that the play was the PERFECT bridge between the work we did in Act II and the work of today in Act III. Thanks so much for your inspired work writing it and then the amazing job all of you did staging it. People will be talking about that surprise for a long time!

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