Sunday, April 27, 2014
The Japanese Donkey Mask
Great classes have great mythologies. This has always been true. Half the battle of creating a great class is to create a challenge for them to go through: A Quest! Something that becomes a story lasting a lifetime.
But the ultimate cherry on the top so far has been ordering a specialty donkey mask from Japan and having it delivered to the university. How cool is that? So my daughters and I walked over to the little university post office and after much explanation that …yes, I was the teacher/director of a Shakespeare play on campus … and yes, I was the very Mr. Hartenstein that was sent here to pick up said package despite having no I.D. on me… and yes, it was in fact a donkey mask sent from Japan…. Would you like to try it on? No? That’s ok! I’ve got another mythology I’m building with my daughters…they’re more than happy to oblige.
Mock Trials and Scavenger Hunts and Teacher Pranks and Celebrations…all of these make a great class…but to do a performance together? Well, anybody who’s ever taken on this daunting task with native speakers knows how easily they can be made into a fool. Doing the whole thing in a second language…and with Shakespeare… call the madhouse! This being said…we plunge onward toward Midsummer Night.What makes this year vastly different is the University / High School is being so helpful. Case in point…the Donkey Mask! In years past, I have had to do everything myself…creating costumes, sewing together setting, fashioning props…but at my new school, when I told the Department Director my idea, she loved it…and word spread quickly that I needed help. Straightaway I had volunteer teaching assistants building a forest stage and others offering make-up services and even a wary homeroom teacher giving consent…things that at the old Taiwan school caused huge chaos and uproar.