By Kathryn Krull, Touchstone Apprentice
While teaching at Harrison Morton Middle School with Touchstone ensemble member and founder Bill George, and our co-teacher Bart Mummey, I learned a big lesson: Getting old stinks. On one of the first days of our residency, Bill asked the kids, “So if you could tell your own personal story, what would it be about?” The majority of the kids responded with, you guessed it: Vampires. And then I realized, vampires are nothing like they were in Bill’s day. Now, vampires sparkle in sunlight, dress fashionably, and they all are very attractive. All vampires, to these kids, were the famous Stephanie Meyer book and movie: Twilight.
Why do kids think the Twilight series is so exciting and compelling? On my first day teaching I found myself swamped in the obsession of Twilight. Of course, a random 23-year-old college graduate would be obsessed with Twilight, but that’s not the point. But what is it that makes Twilight a good piece of dramatic work? I remember asking the students about Nosferatu and Dracula. Of the eight, only one student was truly dedicated to the art of vampire narrative and history.
But nowadays, dramatic structure is minimized by the “cool” and “hot new thing”; in this case, beautiful actors paired with CGI special effects in the movies.
YPL at Harrsion Morton really helped students to look past the “magic and glamour” of the movies, and look at the writing. In my opinion, movies don’t differ much from the stage. The immediacy of theatre is one thing, and the capabilities in the movies are another, but when you get down the writing, there is so much in common. The kids realized slowly throughout the start of YPL that in order to make “a Twilight” happen, you just have to start writing. And to be able to help children realize that they are indeed capable of being the next Stephanie Meyer or William Shakespeare – THAT IS AMAZING!
Having now been through the entire experience, I must say working with these kids felt like family. Our assistant teacher Bart Mummey was an amazing help and really worked well with Touchstone antics. The kids in the group had enormous imaginations and that in turn, lead to plays being about everything! From high school proms, kidnappings, and animals, to pieces like the wonderful chosen play, The Princess, by Mirna Ortiz, which is about princes, a princess and mystical happenings… The sky was the limit.
But in all seriousness, witnessing children go through this process, and watching their imaginations grow was amazing. I am so thankful to have gotten this experience and work with Bill and Mr. Mummey. Interested in theatre education, I will cherish this YPL and all the wonderful things that came out of it. Thank you Touchstone Theatre and Harrison Morton Middle School! AND COME SEE THE YOUNG PLAYWRIGHT’S FESTIVAL ON MAY 18th!