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A Mid-Life Summer’s Dream

Roger-Gaboury

by Guest Blogger, Roger Gaboury, Schenectady High School Teacher

“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream.”
–A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 4.1.204-205

When I decided on a career switch from newspaper reporting to a teaching many years ago, I knew I needed to shift my professional perspective. How would I change the semi-anonymous introvert behind the notepad into a “sage on the stage”?

So as I waited to begin my college studies to become a teacher, I figured the best course of action was to work as a guide on a haunted hayride and to study clowning. I could think of no better training for controlling an unpredictable group and developing a fearlessness about making mistakes.

Now I’m 17 years into my teaching career. I’ve taught several different high school English courses, earned national certification, even taught a graduate college class. Yet still I find the need for new challenges to keep energizing myself and my teaching, and to refine my focus and perspective. This year may be my greatest challenge yet, as I work as an intern for the Saratoga Shakespeare Company.

This opportunity began last summer. After watching SSC’s latest offering, Love’s Labour’s Lost, I thought how great it would be to join them on stage. It’s always been somewhat of a dream of mine to be an actor, although I have no real experience. (Unless you count a junior high production of Donald Payton’s The Boarding House Reach. I played the protagonist’s father, Mr. Maxwell.) I approached SSC directors Barbara and Lary Opitz and Tim Dugan after the show about the possibility of them taking on a teacher intern. Already they train a number of college students each year in the on-stage and behind-the-scenes workings of a professional Shakespearean production. Why not do the same for a local teacher? Someone who teaches Shakespeare, but doesn’t specifically teach or work in theater? Someone like me. (Okay, actually me.) What could be more natural than putting a teacher on a stage? Already, I “perform” in front of 125 students a day. I do about five 50-minute sets of “standup” (as in I rarely get a chance to sit) each day, five days a week, 40 weeks a year.

And they said yes!

It was only then, with my dream about to become reality, that I realized (gulp!) that the thought of being on stage outside the classroom makes me as anxious as a bookworm asking the head cheerleader to the prom. (Something else I never did. Although I did play a good bookworm in high school.) But it is this very anxiety that shows me I must do this. I tell my students all the time to dream big and to work to fulfill their dreams. Now, after reaching my half-century mark, I figure it’s high time to practice what I teach.

And so, for five weeks this summer I will be a teacher intern in the Saratoga Shakespeare Company. What does that mean? That means that I will be training daily with an ensemble of 13 college interns to learn the ropes of staging and performing a Shakespearean production. That means I will be taking the same classes learning about voice, movement, and other components of the theater. And that means that I will take part in one of these Shakespearean productions. (Breathe.) Our intern show will be a traveling production of the comedy Much Ado About Nothing. The intern production lands in Congress Park on Aug. 6 at 2 p.m.

Despite the anxiety, I am ecstatic about this opportunity that SSC is giving me. “I have had a dream,” as Bottom put it, and now thanks to SSC I get to live it.

Roger Gaboury is a national board certified English teacher from Schenectady High School. He has degrees from Union College and the University of Idaho, and has trained with the Freedom Writers and the Capital District Writing Project. His last performance was in an Intro to Clowning graduation show at Schenectady County Community College.  He will be guest blogging his experiences with our Intern Program throughout the summer. Check out his blog at  www.outofthecentrifuge.blogspot.com.