Life Laid Bare: Confessions of a High School Drama Teacher
2 out of
I went to this show not knowing who this man was, I could tell there were many in the audience who did because many spoke to him at the end of the show, probably parents of kids he had taught in high school or actual students. I thought he had some really interesting stories…particularly interesting were his stories about his mom and dad and also his friends he had lost to AIDS. These were very moving, I even wiped away some tears.
At the same time, I felt that overall the show lacked a clear direction. From the very beginning, it seemed he didn’t know where he should put the focus. There were many times he seemed lost, unsure about what he was supposed to say or where he was supposed to go. He often seemed to be reaching for the words to say, many times he hesitated with “ums” or stuttered words. I guess he just seemed a bit nervous and maybe he was. He did mention in the beginning of the play that he was. I guess I just didn’t always know where he was going or why he was telling a certain story. Maybe he meant for it to be this way but I think it could have been mapped out a little better, sometimes it felt like he was just rambling.
Being as the show was called “Life Laid Bare: Confessions of a High School Drama Teacher” I had also gone to the show expecting him to talk about his experiences as a drama teacher. He did talk about how difficult it was to be a gay man in Kansas high schools and he also mentioned a particular letter that a mother of a gay student sent him, telling him how much she appreciated everything he had done for his son. But he didn’t talk at all about the classes he taught in high school, the productions, the students. I was left not really knowing why he became a high school drama teacher, what it meant to him. He skipped from talking about being in college to suddenly becoming a drama teacher. So I was left not really knowing what the significance of being a drama teacher was to him.
He had some hilarious stories. Particularly the story he told about an experience he had in a Swedish plane. But there were stories that seemed like they just didn’t belong. One in particular that comes to mind is a story about a lesbian who slammed her fist down on the counter because she was hungry and said she would eat a blonde. I just thought to myself, “Ok…why are you telling this story?” I mean, I get that he was going for a conversational, laid back feel but I just sometimes got the impression this show could have used more editing and a clearer direction.
Unstructured wander through a retired teacher’s memories, containing little to nothing about his career as a high school drama teacher, despite the title. The sole actor was speaking so softly that even in the tiny venue, he was hard to hear. At times boring, at times maudlin. Two things were funny enough to laugh at. Very hard to sit through. I don’t see why it’s gotten such good word of mouth.
An honest, heartfelt, humorous journey through this inspiring, brave, and entertaining man’s life is a gift for those fortunate enough to snag a seat. Kudos.