Overcoming the energy gap
Chuck Brooks knows his way around a student theater production. The longtime Rosemount High School teacher has directed plenty of plays at RHS, and he still narrates and writes the script for the school's OnStage variety show.
Middle school, though That's a whole new challenge.
This year Brooks is directing Rosemount Middle School's production of Our Miss Brooks. He took the job because the show needed someone to take charge, and because he might like to do more shows when he is retired in a few years. But the process of actually getting a finished product to the stage has proved simultaneously energizing and exhausting.
Middle school students have no shortage of enthusiasm for their work. But sometimes getting that energy pointed in the right direction can be difficult.
"They're great kids and they're fun, but the energy level (can be exhausting)," Brooks said.
Adding to the challenge is the fact Brooks and costume designer Sandy Sandberg finish their day at RHS at 2:20 p.m., then have half an hour to wrap up their own business and get up the hill to the middle school. That doesn't leave much time to meet with students who need help or take a breath before jumping into the next part of their day.
Brooks chose this year's play in part because he knew he would have a cast made up of more girls than boys. It is a coincidence, he says, that it happens to be about a teacher named Brooks who finds herself directing a play she would rather not be directing.
With just over a week before the first full performance, Brooks is happy with the progress students are making. They jumped back into rehearsals Monday after a week off for spring break. As much as anything, he's trying to teach the students to enjoy what they're doing.
"The payoff will be Thursday and Friday next week," Brooks said. "I hope in 20 years they remember this fondly."
For his part, Brooks says he may be back to direct future middle school plays. Just not until he's retired from his day job. Then, he says, he just might have the energy to keep up.
Our Miss Brooks will be on stage at 7 p.m. April 11 and 12 in the RMS multi-purpose room.