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Monday, October 19, 2009

"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night."

Many years ago, in the mid 80's, I used to teach drama. During one of the semesters, I came upon a play called "Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night." It was for high schoolers. It was like Spoon River Anthology. Each character was on stage in bed. Suddenly one of the sleepers would wake and deliver a monologue dealing with the reason for waking up in a cold sweat or troubled. Then s/he would fall back to sleep and another sleeper would rise up. I loved it and the kids loved it. The class would write their own sketches and then we presented them to the school. We would have a week of performances so we could get to the whole school. They became very popular especially with our guidance department.

In that semester a young girl wrote a painful sketch of how she was awoken by her stepfather on many evenings. While she sat in bed she was blaming herself, she couldn't tell her mom, because she believed her mom would blame her, and she just didn't know who to turn to. Eventually she decided she had to speak to someone and decided she would speak to a teacher at school or to her guidance counselor. It was a brilliant piece, in fact in her first performance, two girls sitting in different parts of the auditorium left abruptly and I discovered later had gone to the Guidance offices. I learned of this because the head of the Guidance department came to ask me what was going on in the auditorium. When I explained to her our play, she was thankful. During our week of performances, no fewer than a dozen girls visited their counselors. Drama had served more than a vehicle for entertainment, it had provided a path for too many of our young ladies to find help about a troubling issue.

As it turned out this sketch was drawn from the girl's life. It was happening to her cousin. I discovered this when I spoke with the girl's mother.

I was thinking about this play recently as I am discovering that a play like this with this topic and others may be needed right now in our school. The students seem so much more tough than we were, but they are only playing at it as a protection against the difficulties they face. They think they are alone in their problems and we must let them know they aren't. I'm in a school with more social workers than that other school had Guidance counselors. Life is so much tougher for our young people and we need to find ways to help them discover their paths to recovery. This kind of play I did so many years ago, sadly may still have an audience and a need to be revised.

1 comment:

Allison Fisher said...

I am doing a monologue from this play for my theatre exam. We were given monologues from this play "Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night." Thanks for this article. It really helped me connect with my character.