When I was 16 years old, my girl friend Tracey and I went to the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Neither of us were too familiar with the movie—it was my first time seeing it ever—but we knew it was a little odd, like us, and a little verbotten.
When we arrived at the theater, the ticket taker outside took ours in hand and gave us a long, hard look. He then announced to the hearing of all in the vicinity: You’re virgins, aren’t you?
We. Almost. Died.
Firstly, how on earth could he tell that from looking at us? Omigod is that something people can SEE?? Secondly, what on earth does that have to do with seeing a cult film??
It’s your first time here, isn’t it?
“Ohhh… well, yes.”
I thought so, he concluded. And proceeded to take a blue face-paint pastel and DRAW GIANT V’S ON OUR FOREHEADS !!! so that everyone else would also know we were “virgins.” Immediately as we stepped into the dim of the theater, my friend and I vigorously scrubbed the V from our faces, bathed in darkness to hide the vicious red creeping upon them.
Yesterday was my first time teaching Shakespeare.
While the opening of my first Macbeth lesson plan—my “Vegas Moment” to quote Teach like a Champion—went wonderfully, as we came to the actual reading of the text, that “out of my depth” feeling suddenly swelled. Oh god, their eyes are glazing. Quick! What do I do?
Well, first off, it was the end of that class period. So I get to reapproach it all today. And secondly, it is my first time. I am inexperienced, awkward, Shakespeare’s elbow’s on my hair.
I’m stoked that my opening Vegas moment went so well (we created “fortune teller/cootie catchers” to illustrate the role of prophesy in all decisions if we knew what was going to come of us), and my students were engaged, curious, creative, and laughing. They got the point of the exercise, and its relationship to the play.
But lord have mercy, today I go at it again.
I’ve taken enough Shakespeare survey classes to know how to read it at a college level, to read it independently, to sneak peaks at the modern English just to check anyway, because hello, Shakespeare. But I do not know how to teach a 14-year old how to read it or how to translate it so that an 8th grader will actually care.
I know I’ll go at it again. I’ll walk into the classroom with blue smudges across my forehead, feeling a little gangly, a little uncertain of what parts feel good and what don’t.
But today, I’ll do it just a step to the right…;)