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Friday, September 20, 2013

Under the Influence

First off, the title of this blog refers to a play that was performed in front of our students today.  I've been to dozens of assemblies over the years and generally speaking I tolerate the disruption to my classes.  I politely stand with my students and police their behavior and generally am bored out of my mind.

This assembly was different.  Over the course of 2+ hours I spoke to 1 student about their phone.  I didn't once have to speak to a student about their behavior.  This is a first.

The play is based upon the book (*The Pact*) in which 3 boys (Marcus, Cameron and Shawn) make a pact to keep each other focused on their way to becoming doctors.  Before you decide that the subject matter is pretty dull, understand that these are inner-city boys who are dealing with many different pressures as well as their own goals.

The characters are easily identifiable among my own students.  As a teacher we see many students whose potential is squandered because they lack focus.  The characters interact with each other and their environments in realistic ways which my students found refreshing.  There was no preaching, just lots of dialogue sharing the characters' perspectives and feelings.

I don't want this blog piece to be filled with spoilers, but there are all couple things I will share.  A acronym is given early in the assembly for D.R.E.A.M. that I wish they had elaborated upon in the play.  During the second act, Shawn gives a speech about how "doing what (he) wanted" ended up leading him astray.  Also, Marcus' father has a heart to heart with two of the boys which as a parent myself left me content that the boys' families weren't just a source of conflict.

I'm not sure if the troupe performs just locally or nationally. I can say that if your school serves a similar demographic to mine (inner-city students primarily) then this play would certainly give the students something to think about and perhaps help some of them to reevaluate their lives and goals.  From what I've heard in many of the schools where this play is performed, students seek out and read the book from which the play was written.  For many of our students that might just be the first book they've read which wasn't assigned.



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