“Demolition time,” two words that can turn a group of teenagers into a horde of working minions. When it was time for a set to come down, stagecraft students were at their best and worked their hardest, because it was damn fun. I thought of my students today, as I stared at the heating and air conditioning unit I was disassembling. I laughed all by myself, standing there looking around for Tray – or Lindsay, Christen, Wyatt, Skelly, Pony Boy, Trout, Tom, (Alex and Mike, stay in the booth, we got this,) and so many others I’m sure I’m offending by leaving out and too numerous to name – so I could say, “I’d really like to see that gone.”
A statement like that would be met with a wide grin and a question, “We’re not saving any of it?”
To which I would respond, “Do not hurt each other. Stay under control, but yeah, DESTROY THAT SUCKER!”
Oh, to unleash the pent up emotions of a teenager on a seek and destroy mission is an amazing thing to watch. It is also fun as hell to participate in. It gets rather tedious toward the end of the project, when the mess the destruction created has to be cleaned up, but swinging a sledge hammer at something is cathartic, I don’t care how old you are. I miss those moments with those kids. We had good and bad times together, but mostly I remember the laughter. I remember the smiles, high fives, and hugs for a job well done.
I also remember standing in the wings, beaming with pride, as those kids dressed in black, the stagehands, made the magic happen. I was proud of the performers too, but they received praise from an audience that saw their work. Only those of us privileged enough to be backstage can know the hard work and dedication it takes to live up to the adage, the show must go on. “They’re the first to come and the last to leave,” as Jackson Browne said, “Let the roadies take the stage.” I bow to those kids dressed in black, the unknown faces behind the scenes. They are not unknown to me. I will remember them long after the lights fade on the stage.
I receive thank you notes from former students, and I always wonder if they know how much I owe them. I owe them moments of remembrance, smiles and laughter I will never forget, and the knowledge that I did something good once. I owe them moments like the one in the backyard today, when I smiled and thought of them. I owe those performers for the smiles that overtake me when I hear a song from a show we did together. I owe my students for helping me to remember to laugh, to seize the day, and to swing that sledge hammer every now and then.
I am totally enjoying my new career, but there are moments when I remember why I was a teacher. I’d like to thank my students for that.