Monday, August 10, 2009

The Understudy

I was back at the continuation high school today. English class. They were reading Act II of The Crucible.

It was a pretty common lesson plan. Students "volunteered" to read parts, and we got through several pages. Then they answered questions about the section that we read.

It was 2nd period. I was trying to drum up volunteers (before I volunteered them into roles). I explained that John Proctor had the most lines in the section we were reading. Yet, I still got an actual volunteer for the part. Score!

Reading aloud is kind of interesting. Sometimes (especially at the continuation high school) we get readers who don't read very well. It makes for a painful experience. And it takes forever to get through anything. So, I was happy that our John Proctor was a pretty good reader. Things went smoothly--for a while.

Slowly, John realized that I wasn't kidding when I said the role was a large one. And he had just about enough. I could tell he was losing steam. Then, suddenly, another boy was reading John Proctor's part.

I hadn't noticed anything. We had been reading, and the students had kept up with their parts. John 1 read one line, then Elizabeth Proctor said something, and John 2 read the next line. I had no idea how the two boys communicated the switch in parts. We had not planned for such an eventuality. And I was in front of the class the entire time, watching the class (well, okay, I was watching the book more than the class).

Since it made little difference to me, I just went with it. At least the flow of the play continued (I've had readings not go so smoothly). Unfortunately, John 2 wasn't as accomplished a reader as John 1.

We got through Act II. They answered their questions. And I get to do this again tomorrow.

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