Well... I just finished up with our school's fall drama, Jane Eyre[\U], and I have to say that in the 25 years that I have been involved with theater, I have never had a show so destined to not go well. Before I go any further, though, I do want to point out to my students who read this board that you all did a great job and showed quite a bit of talent and maturity pulling off a show that had so many wrenches thrown at it in the last two weeks of rehearsal. Now for my rant: It has been tradition at our school that the week prior to tech week is called "pre-tech" week where our stage and tech crews watch the show with the sound, light and set cue sheets to learn how to move the set. Unfortunately we lost 80% of this time because our school was hosting... get this... regional volleyball tournaments that didn't even involve our own volleyball players. The auditeria, which doubles as the lobby for our gymnasium, was too crowded and noisy to even think about any form of a run through, so the time we had for rehearsal was spent working in our choir room (which was barely large enough to hold the cast, let alone allow the crew to properly watch). So… we had zero “pre-tech” which means that our crews came to tech week cold, which added hours to our rehearsals. It has been tradition at our school that the week prior to our opening (Sunday to Thursday) is tech week. You all know what tech week is about, so I am not going to describe our procedures. Let’s just say that our wonderful choir teacher scheduled two events for the Monday and the Tuesday of tech week that took 35 of our 61 participants leaving me with only 26 cast/crew members… 20 of which were our elementary/middle school chorus members. EVERY lead and EVERY leader (student director/producer, student tech director, one of the two stage managers) was missing. Obviously I wound up canceling the rehearsal and used that time to finish our program and add detail to our sets (luckily our student scenic designer was still available to add frosting to the scenes). That left me with Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday for our tech week. No problem… I’ve put shows up before with less tech prep… it just meant that I’d have to have my wife (who is very good at operating our sound and light boards) in the tech booth and I’d have to be back stage leading the crew (which is a slap in the face of our stage managers who lead the crews). Our Sunday rehearsal was total crap (because our crews weren’t prepared for rehearsal due to losing the pre-tech week, so we had a lot of “ok… let’s stop here and work out the scene change” or “ok… let’s stop here and reprogram light cue 35 to include more lighting from the right”, etc… We rehearsed for 5 ½ hours and only ran 9 scenes before parents came to pick up their kids. Wednesday was a decent rehearsal… for a second tech week rehearsal… NOT for a day-before-final-dress rehearsal. Needless to say I had a lot hinging on a great final dress. My kids came in Thursday excited and ready to have a great rehearsal. I even heard my senior leaders saying… “Hey, guys, Mr. Dingman and Mrs. Dingman worked very hard preparing this show for us… let’s go out there and give them the best rehearsal of our lives so that they can go home and relax tonight”… relax… that’s funny as the program wasn’t even finished yet (because of all of the extra crap at our school and because of how involved my students are in extra-curriculars, our ad sales for the program were dismal and we extended the ad deadline). So… Thursday was going great! I was excited! I wasn’t yelling up at the booth to fix cues and the stage crew were performing their set changes smoothly and quickly. We got to Act I scene 7 with only one big mistake when another teacher came up to me and said “Mr. D… there will not be school tomorrow. Apparently there was a bomb threat found in one of the bathrooms saying that a bomb will go off tomorrow at 9:30 AM. The superintendent says that you can still have rehearsal tonight and that you can put the show up tomorrow, though, so it shouldn’t affect you in any way.” Sure… I’m going to be the staff member who keeps 60+ students in a building that supposedly has a bomb in it. I confirmed what the staff member said to me and immediately stopped my final dress rehearsal and sent the kids home. I also cancelled our opening night show because the community was just up in arms (we’re about 45 minutes from that school in Cleveland where a student shot several teachers and students). So… Saturday roles around and we’ve not had a full tech and our show was going up at 7:00. I called my students in at 1:00 and started one last ditch attempt at a final dress rehearsal. We started really good when all of a sudden my stage crew has a 5 minute scene change (usually they change in about 15 seconds, so something obviously was wrong). I stopped the show, pulled the cast and crew onto the stage to see where the problem was and to try to fix the it. What was the problem? Three of the crew members were talking on their cell phones to their girl friends out back and 8 other ones were sitting on our staging area talking with cast and eating pizza (that was half of the set crew). The rest of the crew froze up because they were waiting for their piece partner. I was at a loss… I couldn’t think what to say or do. I took their apparent lack of interest personally and left the rehearsal before I said something to the kids (the majority of whom worked so hard for the past 12 weeks on set, lines, etc…) that I’d regret. Before you think… why did that teacher leave his kids alone… I have five parent volunteers, one of which is a staff member with me… who were there helping me watch the kids when they weren’t on stage. After my five minute fresh air break, I came back in to 61 different apologies. I don’t know what my senior thespian president and senior student director said in my absence, but the rest of the rehearsal went very well. Our opening was the best attended drama in history. We usually average 125 on opening night (because drama doesn’t involve a pointed ball). We had over 400. The show, while technically rough… but not rough enough for the audience to notice… just for me to notice… went very well. I couldn’t be prouder of my kids. This whole affair, though, has left me with a sour taste in my mouth (and I have the musical starting up in 2 weeks). I have always defended other extra-curricular activities. I push my students to be involved with SOMETHING… sports, arts, etc… it’s really unimportant, just as long as they’re involved. I am very conscious about other activities in our building and I attend every one. I never schedule in conflict with people and am the first to rearrange my schedule if there are conflicts. If irks me that the same courtesy isn’t returned. We had two staff members come see the play, one of which has a student involved with it. The lack of consideration for our school’s drama is simply astounding… and to top it off we’re the largest extra-curricular activity in the school with over 100 members (our school only has 375 students in it). We’re never thanked, we’re never mentioned at board meetings (whilst our 0-8 football team is multiply mentioned as “working hard” and “we’re still proud of them”), we put on high quality shows and these kids who work so hard for seasons that are just as long as any football season get zero recognition for it. So again… to my drama students… I am proud of all of you and thank you for your maturity, your patience and your willingness to work with me putting on some great theater. Thank you for letting me ***** and moan.