My students continue to amaze me with stories of their lives...and we've only just begun! This week we heard stories of romance, love, heartache and a few surprises. As I glanced at the stories they handed in for me to read (not all stories were read) my eyes rested on Betty's story of boycotting the lunch counters in Concord, NC. She wrote of being called foul names, spat upon and pushed around and later told by her college that she was not allowed to demonstrate...and a gentleman who, as a high school student raised a Nazi flag up his high school flagpole and to this day no one knows who raised this flag in post WWII 1949 America...he did it as a prank... and so Willie continues with her journaling of our process from the students point of view. Wrenn
The Memory Chair (cont’d)
Wednesday 23, 2011
This is the fourth week of Life Stories class and certain things are beginning to show: we are planting roots of our yesterdays’ remembrances: hellos are quick to come, smiles are instantaneous, and our body language suggests an easy camaraderie is settling between us. And, although many still wear name tags, they seem to be just a thing to put on, completing our routine of stepping into ‘a classroom atmosphere.’
As with the beginning of each session, Wrenn gets everyone out of their seat and moving, warming us up with hand waves, body bends from head to toe, and always the kicker: laughing! We next heat up our brain cells by calling on Shakespeare and revisiting his endless kit of insults where we invariably—you guessed it—find laughter, again.
Within the last couple of weeks, we’ve been introduced to another challenge: mirror mimicking each other’s movements. At first, it was a simple one on one…then five on one and this week, it was a group exercise, and there again, you can imagine how it ended—more laughter. We’re getting quite good at this laughter thing!
Next came improvisation time: Mardell and I had part-time jobs cleaning jails: clearing cobwebs, and dusting old mattresses. When live spiders were found under the mattresses, the job took on more than we had bargained for and even the money paid paled to our endurance level of tolerance toward the leggy critters.
The men filled the next playbill: Hess, Don, Dave, and Ted. The story involved a visit to a car dealer for a first time purchase of a car for the teenage son. The young man had a hard time controlling his excitement; he had no interest in his dad’s questions of: how many miles to a gallon? Was it in good condition? His brain was on fire! He was already behind the wheel; his foot ready to take flight. Did he get the car? The smile was still on Dave’s face today!
Story reading time followed: groups of four gathered close to share memories. Voices buzzed low, giggles erupted now and then, and Wrenn eavesdropped at every turn. Time soon came to choose a story to act on and preparations were quickly made.
The improvisational skits were: Jane’s story of a sometimes combative son and her first meeting of the son’s special girlfriend face to face; Marti’s story of a family dining out and the young daughter enthralling a stranger who is simply passing by; and Sandy’s tale of found love, lost love, and found love, again—then marriage and moving to Rome, Italy.
Catchphrase words came from Jane’s tale upon hearing her son’s girlfriend’s first laugh—why she sounds just like me! Elizabeth Towles (Willie)