January 26, 2009

Huntington's Corn is Green - A Valentine to Teachers

I saw Meg Campbell - Head of Dorchester's Codman Academy Charter Public School - at the opening night festivities of The Corn is Green.

I have to take a moment here to congratulate Meg, and to crow a little - Codman recently was recently given the state's highest award in arts and culture, the Commonwealth Award, presented by the Massachusetts Cultural Council to Codman Academy for its innovative partnership with The Huntington. Codman Academy is the first public school to receive this award, presented to organizations or individuals deemed to have made extraordinary contributions to the community quality of life. Our partnership has been nationally recognized as an innovator in arts education. Codman Academy and the other award recipients were honored at a celebration, which took place on Tuesday, January 13 at the Massachusetts State House.

Meg was over-the-moon about the production, she loved the story and the performances - she called it "a valentine to teachers". It's pretty easy to suppose that Meg saw a lot of herself up on that stage. She is a Miss Moffat if ever I knew one - always challenging her students with tough love, a knowing insistence that they are capable of more, and tireless dedication. She has known many Morgan Evans' in her life.

Last week I took a group of educators backstage - part of our "Teachers as Scholars" program where around 15 teachers will join us for three days to learn about us and how they can use the Arts as a teaching tool - all part of a professional development program paid for by the schools. I love meeting with this group - I've done it for the last 4 or 5 years. They are engaged when they walk in the door, easy to talk to, full of questions - a real joy to spend 30 minutes with. A couple of them had already seen Corn and shared Meg's enthusiasm. And, as teachers do, they led me to see the play in new ways that I hadn't previously considered.

Lynne Johnson, Donna Glick and Meg Campbell - teachers all.

A lot of people have been talking the mentor/mentee relationship in this play. Our own Peter DuBois talks about his high school English teacher Linda Miller who "taught me to see the world a bit differently, always pointing me towards new revelations as she blew my mind with new writers, ideas, and a new way of looking at the 'every day' ". He also spoke of playwright Paula Vogel - who taught playwriting at Brown when he was a graduate student. "Paula made me realize that the theatre can be an incredible world in which to live, the source of remarkable community, and, at the same time, a war zone where artists need to fight for what they truly believe".

I remember a high school music and drama teacher, Don Adams, who gave me the chance to learn the joys of performance, a college Technical Director, John Larrance, who introduced me to the fun and challenges of backstage life, and a whole slew of role models and friends at the Weston Playhouse where I began my professional career.

Peter DuBois says "I am thrilled to be producing The Corn is Green, a tribute to those from our past who profoundly shaped our futures".

Is there a teacher, mentor, role model, in your life that you would credit for changing your life? Please comment and share your story.

Educators - Teachers & Professors - are eligible for two-for-the-price-of-one tickets to The Corn is Green when you buy online. Enter the promo code "TEACH" or click here. You must show ID verification when you pick up discounted tickets.

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of The Corn is Green, by Emlyn Williams, playing January 9 through February 8, 2009 at the Huntington's mainstage, the B.U. Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA. Buy tickets online or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.

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